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Bees: A tribute to Dr. Martha Clare Morris,

Read at the celebration of life services on March 14th, 2020 in Oak park, IL. My mother died of cancer February 15, 2020 in the comfort of her home and surrounded by her three children; Clare, Laura and Patrick.

Bees are an incredible, superior species. Their work is perfect, their product is perfect. The honey bee's process for acquiring ingredients (pollen) for their product (honey) births meadows, orchards and thriving new generations for all plant species. Their life’s process, the way in which bees live, contributes to the highest good of not just the hive but the evolution and health of planet Earth.

Bees do not need humans for their survival. Their product, the honey, is coveted and enjoyed by humans across the globe. In order to experience the magic and healing properties of honey, we humans, need the bee keeper to harvest the bee's product.

Honey from Moon Acres (Yoga House Michigan), tastes different at different times of the year. In the spring it is spicy from the basswood trees. In the fall it tastes fruity from the pear trees and grapevines that grow behind the hives.

As the bee keeper, occasionally you set a mouse guard, add sugar water or test for mites; and twice a year you harvest, taking the bare minimum, leaving the bees ample food for the harsh midwest winter.

I like to think that by planting wild flowers and lush gardens adds to their life experience but I have no solid proof, as bees have grown our gardens and meadows with their hard work since beginning of time.

When calm and centered, we move within the hive freely, without gloves or sleeves. Taking out sheets of honey comb, with bare hands; exploring layers of the colony looking for the Queen. Often times sharing honey with a worker bee as they lick the sticky gold from our finger tips.

One cloudy morning (clouds make bees cranky) before a group of 20 women were to arrive to Yoga House, I assisted Kristy on a hive check. As the morning passed by; my mind started to drift to the to-do lists and anxieties of serving clients in a stellar manner.

Golden rule of bee keeping, leave your human monkey mind at home, the hive can smell fear and worry and it makes them defensive of their hive.

The deeper I got into my stories of fear, anxiety to do lists, lack and business; the more annoyed the bees became. I was in their space with a cluttered mind and scattered energy. They started thumping my forehead and buzzing my ears.

Bees don’t sting at random, they take their time and look for your flesh. They will crawl around until they find an opening in your suit and a sweet, fleshy spot to deliver their sting. They know where it hurts.

Realizing a swarm was forming, I sprinted to the barn. The bees following and getting stronger in their defenses, realizing their efforts successful. I doused myself with the hose until the bees finally retreated.

This was a life changing experience for a person who spends her life studying meditation, awakening and the connection to the whole.

I believe Mom and I traded roles of bee and bee keeper. Or maybe it’s deeper than that.

Maybe mom was the clouds that rolled in that made me the grumpy bee and the mouse guard that assuring no rodents made their home in my life.

Maybe she was the vessel that spun the liquid gold or the basswood that added spice to my honey.

At times I was the scattered thought that sparked fear in her hive or the bright sun that inspired her out to collect life from the flowers.

We were both the war bee looking for a vulnerable piece of skin to sting and the finger offering the sweet treat for the both of us to delight in.

How often did my buzz in her ear sound like painful threats or the creation of one of my combs inspire awe, wonder and God.

Right now I am the bee keeper missing and remembering my mother with awe, wonder and God.

Maybe, mom was the entire honey making process, the journey to creating the honey that sustains us. Creating life not only for my siblings and father but for individual human eco systems across the globe.

Maybe we were both everything at the same time, the bee, the beekeeper, the honey, the flowers, the mouse, the customers, the sticky, the sweet, the sting, the wonder, the perfect creation.

Dr. Maya Angelou must have known I would need this some day when she wrote:

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.”

My mother was earth.

Grounded and connected to providing, acquiring, sustaining. Fearless in her pursuits and acutely aware of her duties as Queen to multiple hives.

My mother was THE Boss lady. She’s a Destiny’s Child song, Beyoncé of the science world. Strong, loud, sparkly, feminine, divine, power, strength, innovative, brave, truth telling, diva, inspiring, beautiful, spiritual, giving, fierce, a devoted wife, a championing mother, a challenging leader, a loyal friend, an admiring friend, a cheerleader, a stone cold fox, a flirt, a charmer, adorably clueless, wise, authentic, loving, a Queen, proud sister, a tough sister, a devoted trusting daughter, a present and connected mother in law, an adoring grandmother, fun grandmother, Clare’s mother, Laura’s mother, Patrick’s mother, Jim’s wife and love of his life.

I’m sure there are a million more ways to describe my mother.

And as I wrote this I could feel every cell in my body heat up and I wanted to scream for her, where are you mom? You were here just a minute ago, sparkling, glowing, moving, breathing, laughing, creating. I miss your warm skin and sweet smell. I feel this may be my forever conversation with her going forward. Where are you mom? I miss your warm skin and sweet smell. Where are you? It’s funny that she asked me that question every single phone call. All one million of them. Where are you?

Like my mother, our bees did not make it through the winter. They did not swarm and leave as they sometimes do. They died. All of the bees and all of the hives. A couple days after Kristy (master bee keeper, friend, teacher) hauled off the corpses for an autopsy, my dogs and I explored this new space in the fields created in their absence.

At first the space felt big, vast, unrecognizable yet full of possibilities.

What can we plant here? We could extend our runs around the entire field and play fetch in this space without fear of getting stung. We have clear access to the pear trees now.

Do we like this space? It feels strange, wait, will the pears taste as good? How will I experience the flavor of basswood? Will my garden be the same? What will happen to the wild flowers down below?

Will Kristy still come by? What made them die? Is the world ending? Will I be next? Why would the universe conspire to remove such a life giving source?

And what about the honey, this sweet liquid gold spun from the layers of natural magic that is my home, it’s gone.

Just like that.

I don’t have any answers about death of the bees or loosing someone so magical.

But I do have some answers about life.

Answers that start with questions for yourSELF.

Self, is my process of living in service of the highest good for myself, for the hive and for the planet?

Thank you mom for instilling this powerful knowledge and I know the 3 of us will carry on your legacy until the end of time.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for loving my mom. Thank you for showing up. Please continue to show up. For my family, for your family, for your home, for the planet and for you.

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