Lessons From a Bumble Bee

Sitting in the garden last week, as if in slow motion,
I watched my daughter touch a bumble bee on the back
And then lean forward to blow it a loud, exaggerated kiss
Before it flew away

Maybe not the safest thing to be observing, without stepping in,
But I was mesmerized by the scene
And I was also tired
But mostly, I was mesmerized

This insect that I saw as a stinger with wings
And ran from as though its life purpose was to poison me–
She didn’t know to avoid

I couldn’t bring myself to teach her how to fear it
When to her, it was a momentary yet recurring friend
That somehow popped up
In all the most beautiful places

I thought about that bumble bee the rest of the day
The way she didn’t know to be scared of it, so she wasn’t
The way the bee didn’t sting her
Even as a giant, sticky, toddler finger tapped it on the back
A silent truce between new friends

There will come a day that she will experience her first sting
At summer camp, in the backyard, or elsewhere

Maybe she will be furious, at me or the bee or both of us,
Feeling the evidence of betrayal under her reddening, rising skin

But maybe she will be grateful
That she had spent her life, up to that point,
Loving something that others didn’t know how to love
Or at least live with in peace

I think about the other things, both living and non,
That I fear out of habit or convenience or learned avoidance
I take an inventory of the areas where I see angry stingers
When, really, they might be safe and simple enough
To gently love
Even if from afar

May I teach her
May I teach myself
To default to kindness, curiosity, and faith
Knowing that sometimes we’ll get stung

But sometimes
Most times
We’ll find an unexpected friend
–or at least the absence of an enemy
In the thing we were running from

2 thoughts on “Lessons From a Bumble Bee

  1. She seems to know already to be gentle. You could teach her that bumble bees will tell you when they don’t want you to touch them. They raise one middle leg on one side and this is like them saying something to the effect of “Back off now, thanks, but I need my space”.

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