Bees

Two dwarf Rose of Sharon bushes stand guard on either side of our front porch. Over the past seven years, they have grown at a slant, leaning towards each other as if they’re trying to hold hands like a stooped elderly couple. Once summer gets really good and hot, they put out beautiful, white blossoms with petals as soft as chiffon. It only takes a moment of listening to the buzzing to know I’m not the only one who loves these flowers.

The bees can’t get enough of them. Big, fat bumblebees and smaller, quick honeybees dart in and out of the blossoms all day long. Recently, their busy movements prompted me to sit on the front porch and watch them work. I attempted to see how they harvest nectar and gather pollen but their work was too miniature for my eyes. So I did the next best thing, I googled “honey bees.”

That’s where I learned what these vast armies of tiny insects are capable of. It takes 8-12 worker bees working their whole lives just to make one teaspoon of honey. One-eighth teaspoon of honey (the life’s work for an industrious lady bee) is easily what is left in the curved crevices of the plastic, bear-shaped squeeze bottle before I throw it away.

There are three jobs available for employable honey bees. They can be a queen (a difficult job—she lays around 200,000 eggs every year), a worker (those are the female bees we see flying around), and the drones (the male bees who mostly remain in the hive…where they belong—barefoot and impregnating). Within these three career tracts, there are various sub-specialties. For instance, some chew the honey when it arrives to make it thicker, while others construct the series of waxy containers that make up the honeycomb.

However you look at it, a beehive is a remarkable, natural illustration of teamwork at its best. Every bee has a job and gets the work done. Their most important motivation is the health of the community, and the only way to keep the hive buzzing is for everyone to work together.

I love being a part of a team. I like to collaborate to make a pretty good idea amazing. I like to see what happens when you put a bunch of different people with a variety of skills and experiences together and let them loose. There’s a palpable excitement in the room when a theoretical project starts to materialize into something real.

Whether you’re the boss or a lowly drone, we could all learn a lot from the bees.

D.I.Y.

In my family of origin, we were Do-It-Yourself-ers before D.I.Y. was cool. Long before HGTV inspired envy and Pinterest boards overwhelmed us with promises of what could be, my tribe was made up of people who promoted in-home haircuts and changing their own motor oil. We were aghast at the thought of paying someone else to do something we could easily do ourselves, like decorating a birthday cake or painting our toenails or ripping off the roof and building an additional story on to our house (never mind the fact that the builders were mostly made up of college professors, salesmen, and a geologist).

While I still enjoy making things from scratch, I can also see the beauty in not doing everything myself, even if it goes against my nature to allow it.

Adding a child to your home is a perfect example of a time when you must admit that you need help. Though my initial reaction might be to turn away offers of meals and help with the older siblings, DIY parenting is a big mistake.

Pretending you don’t need the help of others and going on as usual will result in a 24/7 eye twitch—and that’s the best case scenario. Who are we kidding? When friends offer help, especially the “no-strings-attached, exactly-what-you-need” kind of help it should be a no-brainer.

But this isn’t just about the receiver of the help. It’s also about the ones who get to give it. When we deny others the chance to bless us with help and casseroles, we are preventing them from experiencing the joys of servanthood. We are stopping them from doing what they were made to do—acting like Christ, the ultimate servant.

Besides the satisfaction of helping others, the giver also gets to be a part of something outside of himself. When we help people in times of sorrow, we share in their mourning and bring a bit of it inside ourselves so we can practice empathy. When we help people in times of joy, we get to rejoice, too, as we walk back to our car thinking of the meal we just dropped off and the newborn baby we just held. (Ah, that new baby smell!)

If there is one thing I’ve learned about including others in our dreams and failures, it’s that the story is so much sweeter with a larger cast of characters. When we allow people to walk the journey with us, it makes the journey better, bearable.

There may be a one letter difference between “me” and “we” but that one letter can make a life-changing difference. Sometimes it’s just better to Do It Together.