Poet Robert Frost writes,
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
The other day I was thinking about how Unitarian Universalism is truly a religion of the honeybee. Like honeybees, which do not elevate one kind of flower or tree above all but go wherever there is nectar to be found, we Unitarian Universalists affirm a “many ways” spirituality. We go wherever truth is to be found, and out of this, we create a honey wisdom.
Life in covenantal community is also essential to who we are, and here again, honeybees are suggestive. They have hive and honeycomb, and we have church and congregation. Bees do the waggle dance and the tremble dance to communicate, and we do the complex, many-faceted dance of human community. They follow instinct, and we do our best to follow our Covenant of Healthy Relationships.
Finally there is the often-made observation that honeybees are aerodynamically unsuited to fly. It seems incredible, given how they are shaped, that they should ever be able to take flight. Yet they do. And so do we. Some people may think that a religion has to define a detailed system of beliefs in order to work, but we know the power of the open spiritual journey. Says writer Doug Muder, “We give our members the freedom to doubt and encourage them to question their beliefs not so they will see all beliefs as whimsical and contingent, but quite the opposite: We find that hard-tested and hard-won beliefs are more likely to withstand the challenges of modern life. A marriage whose every assumption and duty has been freely negotiated is not a house of straw, but rather a house whose every brick has been carefully laid. The freedom of liberal religion is an invitation to engage with the most significant issues of human life and society, not an excuse to fall into a shiftless and vacant hedonism.”
Just something to ponder … Unitarian Universalism is a religion of the honeybee.