Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers

The Romance of God: In Honey, Hive, and Heart


September 24, 2012

If we are awake, there are many natural and spiritual happenings taking place all around us during this month of September. One of my projects this autumn is to continue studying with the Sisters from Bristow, VA in an evening class given by Steve Palmer. One of the books that we are beginning to investigate is entitled, “Reading to Live: The Evolving Practice of Lectio Divina by Raymond Studzinski, OSB. Fr. Ray quotes from so many varied sources as he relates to reading and just how important it is in our lives. The entire evolution of words from the beginning of a letter which was considered to be a character, to characters put together forming words, from the printing press to a community activity and then to an academic activity, flowing into the Monastic Book, and now from the paper page to the screen of computers onto electronic books on one screen is fascinating. The one sentence that really took my breath away while reading was when I read Fr. Ray’s quote:

“Before anyone read, we were all equal.”

At this time of year, we see fruits and vegetables from the laboring farmers on display at roadside stands along with their jams, jellies, and fruit preserves. From late summer to early autumn there is a cyclical pattern for harvesting, filling barns, and filling pantries with God’s gifts from nature in order to sustain ourselves during the long winter. But there is another form of nature that has its own order of repetition each fall and this is the work of the “honey bee” who was brought to North America in the mid-1600’s and obtains two things from flowers: nectar (for honey production) and pollen.  After the female worker bees return to the hive after visiting 150 to 1500 flowers, the substance is taken to the hive bees where regurgitation and a mouth to mouth exchange aids in creating wax honeycombs inside the beehive. The definition of the word, “honey,” from the American Heritage Dictionary, is a sweet substance, such as nectar; sweetness; pleasantness. When the bees leave the honeycomb, the honey is ready to be processed. Honey has many medicinal purposes but serves a two-fold purpose in our lives: firstly, as physical nutrition and secondly, as spiritual nutrition. One example of healing is an old Vermont remedy suggesting that if you suffer from allergies during allergy season, begin chewing on honeycomb regularly and it will alleviate sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Begin chewing honeycomb a week to 2 wks before allergy season to prevent symptoms and chew it as long as possible. Honey, itself contains potassium; bacteria cannot survive in honey because of this ingredient.

This now brings me to the spiritual nutrition of honey and how important it is to have this imagery always before us we absorb the word of God into the fibers of our beings. Another part of the calendar in September this year, brings the Jewish people to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (their New Year), where they dip apples in honey to symbolize a sweet year and Yom Kippur whereby they atone for their sins. Both of these traditional dates emphasize the Torah which is the book that contains the Hebrew Word of God. The Jewish people believe that without the Torah, there is only a half life and that they are dust without it. The devout Jewish reader believes wholeheartedly that by reading the Torah, they embody the Word and weave it into life so that sacred text becomes the context for all activities. Christianity shares this same devotion to the Word of God. Memory plays an important role in Religious reading; in order for us to absorb the Word, we have to have a sense of what is being said in order to make it part of our lives (taken from Studzinski).

I believe that the bees are our resources…Scripture, the Torah, our readings, our Lectio Divina; the bees bring God, through His Word to the hive; the hive of our hearts. The honey is the sacred word that God is trying to imprint on our hearts. The words are dripping with knowledge, wisdom, sweetness, richness, good choices, pleasantness, goodness. It is a gift that is there for the taking if we would only make time.

My question is to you: If you were physically and/or spiritually hungry, would you reach for the Word of God to satisfy your hunger?

My song du jour is: In the Land There Is a Hunger composed by Michael Lynch.

The refrain:

In the land there is a hunger.

In the land there is a need.

Not for the taste of water.

Not for the taste of bread.

In the land there is a hunger.

In the land there is a need.

For the sound of the Word of God

upon ev’ry word we feed.

“In all things, may God be glorified.”

Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, O.S.B.


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