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We can learn a lot from Bees.

Inside my beehive, the frames fit together neatly. They create rows of cells to be filled by the resident bees with comb, brood, honey, water, nectar, pollen and of course, baby bees. Each single, geometric cell defines the work-life of a honeybee.

For the bees, the cells and frames provide an orderly space within which to perform the functions of daily living. The queen lays a nearly invisible egg in the center of middle frame cells. Slowly it becomes a curled grain of rice, then a growing larva and eventually, the nurse bees put a protective layer that acts as a lid over the opening of the cell. Mature baby bees will push through that lid to join the hive and assume roles such as worker bees, nurse bees, the queen’s entourage or, if the bees are males, they leave the hive to seek a queen to mate with. 

Bees are very protective of their space. 

Not just in the ways we think of bees – the sharp sting provided to an unfriendly intruder. To the bees, the space between the frames and comb is precise. If, for instance, the beekeeper haphazardly leaves frames loosely installed in the hive, the bees in their discomfort over this lack of order, will begin filling the gaps.

Thinking about this recently, it occurred to me that it is the exact response I’ve had during liminal seasons. When it seems that there is an unexpected space as the result of a watershed experience. Things feel uncertain, my sense of direction is askew and there is a space between what was and what is yet to come. In that space, I work, sometimes furiously, to fill the gaps. 

To the bees, that open space is uncomfortable, so much so that filling it feels essential. 

It is uncomfortable for me as well. I may find myself thinking that going back to what was – even if it wasn’t good for me. In the discomfort, it might appear to be better than the in-between space. It may feel as if I need to jump in and do something myself to fill the space. Acting can seem like a good idea. Yet, acting can also become a derailment. If only I had waited in discomfort a little longer the open space might have revealed what I needed to know or learn. 

While the bees cannot keep themselves from filling the empty space, I can choose differently. 

I can choose to look at the empty space with curiosity. With a sense of wonder. I may need to slow down even more. Resisting the desire to fill the open space takes practice. Sometimes it even means filling the space to the brim only to be reminded that the space is a necessary gap. Instead, the space may be inviting you to go further in – to take a pause. A deep breath. Take time to reflect in the present season. It’s okay if you still feel uncomfortable. Sit with the discomfort. Invite it to come closer. Welcome it. And within it look with curiosity and soft eyes upon yourself. Wait there. Breathe. Give yourself room and see what happens.

Share a time when you were able to find calm in a chaotic moment.

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