Lenten reflection by Mary Pandiani*
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3 NIV)
In my dissertation focus about wisdom that is shaped in aging, I discovered a woman who re-started the research around wisdom, a somewhat ethereal subject where few people can define it. Her name, Vivian Clayton started out quite passionate about the subject in 1970s and 1980s. However, as her work became thwarted by people who considered wisdom unquantifiable (therefore, not research material), she found few who were willing to listen to her findings. She chose to then move into the field of geriatric neuropsychology as a clinical psychologist. For her spare time, she became a bee keeper.
So how does a woman in wisdom research who became a bee keeper have anything to do with today’s celebration of Valentine’s Day, especially when we are looking through the lens of Lent? Let me connect the dots for you.
(Note: this post was originally posted on Valentine's Day 2017 and is a reposting; this year Valentine's Day fell on Ash Wednesday.)
First, something you may not know is that St. Valentine is the designated patron saint of beekeepers. While certainly invested in the lives of couples in love, St. Valentine keeps busy in the afterlife as one who watches over those who tend bees. Hmmmm….love and bees?
Then there’s Clayton who has her own connection to bees as a way to understand wisdom.
“Somehow, like the bees, we are programmed to understand when someone has been wise. But what wisdom is, and how one learns to be wise, is still somewhat of a mystery.”
So wisdom, love, and bees under the Lenten season of what it means to be hungry and thirsty for God, how are they related? Using Clayton’s words, it is all a bit of a mystery. In this celebration of Valentine’s Day, I imagine many of us would consider love a mystery. Giving chocolates with Valentine cards doesn’t necessarily acknowledge the hard work and commitment that love requires. Questions abound. How does one love in the midst of the good times and the bad? How can I show my love? Why would anyone love me? How does God love me? Can I love God, really truly love God? When we’re hungry and thirsty for God, questions surface in the midst of mystery.
Then I’m drawn back to something as simple as bees. Perhaps in the questions, the wonderful questions that put me at the feet of Jesus, is it possible to look at a bee during this Lenten season to remind myself of the mystery of God’s love and wisdom? Is it possible to recognize that I can take hold of that love and wisdom for myself as a follower of Christ during this Lenten season? Even when I don’t understand it all, I can acknowledge that part of the hungering and thirsting for God requires a willingness to sit in the mystery while holding onto whatever tangible pieces I can, like becoming a bee keeper.
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (NIV)
 Stephen S. Hall, Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience. 2010: Alfred A. Knopf, NY. 56.
* Mary Pandiani of Grace Reimagined is a Spiritual Director, Facilitator, Instructor, Professional & Personal Development Coach