Contemplative prayer through beekeeping

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“Contemplative prayer through beekeeping” was the theme of a recent sabbatical experience that took my wife and I to monasteries and farms through Europe and the United Kingdom to visit bee keepers. For centuries, people have utilized honey and wax and other hive products. Different bee keepers approach this art from various perspectives, from commercial to contemplative. Some are in it for the money and productivity, while others appreciate the biodynamic energy and healing properties of bee colonies.

In Slovenia, a country with a varied geography from Mediterranean coast to high peaks of the Alps, bee keepers utilize the A-Z Hive System, different than the Langstroth boxes that Americans typically use. These hives are often permanently constructed in a bee house, what we might call an outbuilding or shed. I will be sharing about this Sabbatical visit to Slovenia and the benefits of the A-Z Hive System. In a workshop held at First Presbyterian Church of Sandpoint on March 10, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and again the evening of Wednesday, March 14 with the Bonner County Gardener’s Association’s spring home horticulture series in Ponderay, people will see aspects of what this bee keeping technique entails and how beneficial it is to North Idaho’s geography and climate.

One of the wondrous parts of bee keeping that I really appreciate is that bees know what they’re doing. They are an ancient species following the rhythms and patterns of nature for millennia. As a bee keeper, I get to come alongside something taking place that is much larger than myself. When I conduct “visitations,” opening up the hive for inspection or management, there is always something to discover, more to learn as this art is revealed and explored. Sometimes, I’m reminded that much of life is beyond my control, my grasp, or my ability to understand. Some things in life are best received through a heart space that is deeper than our own egos or will.

That is where contemplative prayer comes in. Much like Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray, or gets up early while it is still dark to find solitary places, or has transformative moments in the desert wilderness of temptation or on the mountain of transfiguration, we too are invited to let go of that which we cling to, so we may instead receive God’s living Presence, turning our attention to sharing divine grace and love. Contemplative prayer helps us experience something larger than ourselves as we come alongside God’s creative power.

On Saturday, March 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., First Presbyterian Church and Cedar Hills Church partner in providing a half-day retreat to explore various spiritual disciplines that help us pray. This retreat provides a time and space set apart to care for our spirit as we explore the depths of Christian faith. While not everyone has a calling to bee keeping, we all have a holy vocation of living out hope as we follow Christ Jesus. Spiritual disciplines, such as meditation, are ancient Christian tools that help us become more intentional in this journey.

We have just entered the season of Lent, where the church traditionally observes a time of preparation for Easter. Right after Jesus was baptized, and just prior to his public ministry, Jesus was led by the Spirit through forty days of temptation and fasting in the desert wilderness. By symbolically coming alongside Jesus, for centuries Christians have “given something up” for Lent, reminding them of Christ’s sacrifice. Another approach is the idea of “taking something on” for Lent that’s beneficial, some project that helps the larger world become a better place even as we learn and grow.

If you want to explore spiritual disciplines, take prayer to a new level, or celebrate your connection with the natural world and God’s creativity, consider yourself personally invited to the above opportunities. There are many ways we can encounter the wonders of God, so consider “taking something on” to exercise your faith and engage your heart-space in ways that help you find your center in the living Christ. Peace and All Good!

Pastor Andy Kennaly can be reached at First Presbyterian Church of Sandpoint.

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