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Bee There

February 22, 2021

5 of 40

A little road not made of man,

Enabled of the eye,

Accessible to thill of bee,

Or cart of butterfly.

If town it have, beyond itself,

‘Tis that I cannot say ;

I only sigh,—no vehicle

Bears me along that way.

Emily Dickinson

We see no bees, but we know that we will. In a year of Lent, we touch no one, but we know that we will, too.

These dark mornings I scan words of Emily Dickinson. For no reason, “A little road not made by man” hit. I read, thought, then the internet told me that a “thill” is the shaft that attaches horses or oxen to a cart, that “vehicle” is an “alternative” word (the one Emily wrote is inscrutable). And I thought.

A man knew me, before I knew him. I knew his wife before I knew him. As I know Emily, he knew me from words that I wrote. But we met, we laughed, we knew each other. We were both architects, who built things.

After a decade or more of visits where I saw his buildings, I would bring the latest book, and he showed me his bees. A new obsession, he was older than I a little, so this was a nice compliment to making things. He was fully immersed in the realities of facilitating the incredibly full and complete world of bees.

In a dinner after my bee exposure, he looked me in the eye and said “I have pancreatic cancer.” He knew that I knew what that meant. He understood. In that time we talked of bees. He had come to know bees. I think he had come to know death. I am sure part of him was deeply sad, perhaps afraid, but part of him knew:

“I only sigh,—no vehicle

Bears me along that way.”

He died, along that way. Knowing bees.

To me, I think he knew God that way. His, our, passion, making things, is a touch by God of our humanity that has no reason to exist, “no vehicle Bears me along that way.” There is no understanding from me, by me, or for me. But, like my friend, I can know things.

My doctor wants my blood. Often. So I go to a place that gets it, but the place gives back infinite arcane readings of what is in that blood, 20 minutes after taking it, at 8AM on a Saturday morning and I see it, and every other test I have taken. In charts. With “normals” and their alternatives given.

Like my friend and his bees, I see the insane complexity, that I can absorb, but really do not understand. In the 70 factors, 3 are not “normal”, but they are not spikes, either.

Being like my friend, I dive into efforting understanding. The three things have one origin, kidneys. Being fat, kidneys are not happy with my BMI, I get that.

But here, in one factor, I kinda know the name of an “abnormal” look it up and it is revealed that elevation of that factor happens after exercise. And I worked out for 90 minutes one hour before my blood was removed. But my glucose is still just a little over.

Do I know why any of those 70 things are there? Did my friend know why the little roads of bees took them where they are going? Did he, or I, or you, know where our little road is going?

I know where I want my little road to go, and I know that that is not up to me. My friend did, too. There is no comfort in ending what you love, but it always ends.

But things we hate end too, like this year, but “no vehicle bears me along that way”, I try, I think, but I do not know. Like the bees. They have a faith I cannot have, I do not think I want to have.

But I do want faith.

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