I was at my folks doing yard work last week when I noticed a yellow jacket still, almost pensive, on a blooming flower. It’s basically fall now, so I wondered what was going on. Is he or she getting ready to die? Slowing down at least for winter? I googled and found out that by late summer into early fall males will mate with females and then die off as winter approaches. Fertilized females will seek shelter for the winter to become next year’s queens. I have no idea if this friend was male or female. No matter, really. His invitation to me was to reflect on aging, new seasons in our lives and our choice for how to approach them.
This creature seemed quiet and reflective. I’ve also seen yellow jackets in the fall that seem full of anxiety, nearly frantic. Over many years of ministry, this is basically how I experienced various persons approach aging and even death. Pensive, reflective, as if simply moving into a new venture to ponder and explore, or fighting this new time, panicked and anxious. I looked at the bee more and found myself thinking about my siblings and I looking at my parents aging right now. Some of us are more pensive, while others are a bit more anxious at lots of unknowns for these next months and years ahead. Actually, our demeanors are not that simple, clear cut, “either or”. It’s more like some days, or some moments day to day, each one is more pensive, then buzzing around with questions or concerns, then finding a calm center once again. Even as we like to label or “pigeon hole” one another in this world as “this way or that”, there rarely are simply “pensive bees and anxious bees”. The truth is we each carry a varied busyness inside us as we fly through each day and are given the gift of each other to land near and be present with in every season. When we are attentive to one another enough, noticing and present like I was with the bee that day, often something helpful happens. We meet each other where we are with an ultimate calm and simple curiosity that doesn’t need to analyze or fix anything, but rather simply waits, watches and wonders with other. Sometimes a need is named that might need tending. Sometimes the naming itself may be the beginning of the tending and quite enough for the moment. The bee reminded me that most often all we need, whether calm or anxious, is someone to stop and see us, keep looking over, and simply stay nearby a while.
Thanks be for yellow jackets. For the ways every piece and inhabitant of this great garden make holy invitations for us to embrace the larger invitation to take hold of the life that really is life.