Whether you are an overworked children’s, youth or families worker, or a frazzled, stressed out, parent or carer of a child or young person with additional needs, this story is for you. It’s a story about a bumble bee and a hare, a journey God took me on at a retreat, but it’s your story too…
5:00am and the alarm goes off. That’s not 5:00am “in the morning” because for me “the morning” doesn’t start until at least 7:00am. 5:00am is still very firmly “night”. And yet, there I was, hurriedly getting dressed to drive for over four hours to the Urban Saints staff team retreat being held at Cloverley Hall in Shropshire. A long 215 mile drive later, I arrived in time to be greeted by my friends and colleagues and to attend the first session of the morning… it was about meditation.
The Bumble Bee
We were led by a guest speaker who encouraged us to choose a passage of scripture (some were suggested if, like me, you couldn’t think of one; my brain was still on the M5!). I wandered off to a quiet bit of garden and looked at the suggested passage, Psalm 103. Did anything jump out of the words of this Psalm? No. Did a booming heavenly voice say something profound to me? No. I really wasn’t in the mood for meditation. I felt cross, irritable because I had so many things to do and yet I was being asked to meditate for an hour. I felt I was wasting my time. I couldn’t connect with the passage.
Then… I heard the sound of bumble bees in some wisteria next to where I was sat. It made things worse, now I couldn’t even start to try and connect with the passage, the bumble bees were making so much noise! As I looked accusingly at a bumble bee, something changed in me. I felt God was showing me the bumble bee and how hard it worked, going from one flower to the next, never stopping, on and on, never taking in the beauty of the whole wisteria, which has huge, magnificent and stunning to look at.
I felt God saying that I was like the bumble bee, always busy, always task focussed, moving from one thing to the next on my never-ending to-do list, never standing back and looking at all that God is doing, wondering at all that he has made, enjoying the moment, enjoying him. I stopped being angry and frustrated and simply sat looking at the beauty of the wisteria that God had made, thanking him for the peace that looking at it brought to my soul. I could then look at Psalm 103 afresh and see so much that is beautiful in it…
“Praise the Lord, all his works, everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.” Psalm 103:22
Mary And Martha
In another session later, we were asked to look at Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus comes to visit. Martha is busy doing ‘stuff’ while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Mary chooses better. It’s a choice. I was struck by how much like Martha I am, too task focussed, carrying too much. God used the passage to remind me what is needed; to spend more time with him, at his feet. It’s a choice. Instead of feeling that it’s all down to me, to recognise that it’s all down to God. I can choose better. I prayed saying that I felt like Martha, I carry too much, let me lay it all at your feet Lord. I thanked God for the knowledge, the reminder, that I can give it all to him and be with him, that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). That I can, and must, give my burdens to him. I need to be more ‘Mary’. It’s not all on my shoulders, less in my strength and more in God’s. I can choose better. How about you?
The next morning, while back in the garden at Cloverley Hall again, thinking about all that God had showed me, a hare wandered up to where I was sat. It was less than two meters away, just looking straight at me. It stood up for a better look, then dropped back down and sauntered off, completely unafraid. It was a breath-taking moment for me, I’ve never been that close to a hare before, and it was beautiful. I didn’t know what, if anything, God might have been saying to me through the hare, but some friends suggested that this animal, so often associated with speed, was showing me that it could slow down and enjoy the moment too, like God had taught me through the bumble bee. It was another reminder to take those pause moments and just ‘be’.
Whether you work with children and young people, or parent them, we can be caught up all too easily in the frantic rush and busyness of life. Maybe you think that’s all there is? A week ago, I did too. God used a bumble bee and a hare to show me that there is a different way, a better way, his way, through which he gives us those opportunities to rest in him and just ‘be’. I’m learning a new way; will you join me? It’s a choice.
Having told this story to some friends, one of them, who is amazing at knitting and doing crochet, made me a bumble bee as a reminder of what God had shown me. It’s on my desk!
‘Be’, don’t ‘Bee’, it’s a choice,
What The Story Of Mary And Martha Teaches Us About Disability