Last week, after two years of writing and revising an essay about beekeeping, post-partum depression and acceptance, I was able to let the process go: The piece was published on the website Lion’s Roar, in conjunction with the Buddhist Justice Reporter. Lion’s Roar is an in-print and online magazine devoted to exploration of meditation practice and Buddhism. Other topics find their home here, too: stories about skater culture and Buddhism or the Disney movie Encanto bring new perspectives to both topics and hopefully inspire people to contemplate things in a new way.
That was one of the goals of my essay, to push others to think in new ways, as all the articles in Lion’s Roar inspire readers to do.
The idea of writing about Buddhism and beekeeping came to me in 2019, when I got my first hive of bees and the small creatures stung my right hand seven times. I was so lost in the changes of motherhood that I mostly felt sorrow that summer, sorrow and depression with little pops of joy.
The day the bees stung me, I was transferring them from their “nuc box” (a small, cardboard travel box) to their permanent hive on my farm. I was wearing a pair of thin fabric work gloves and picking up and moving frames loaded with bees, larvae and honey. The bees were slightly agitated, and when I felt the first sting, I tensed. It was a hard way to come into my body, which had felt so foreign, so not mine, for the past year, and yet at the same time, the zing of pain felt good. It was MY body I was feeling. Then another sting came, and another. I stopped moving the frames and stood in place, watching the bees on my hand lower their rear ends into the glove and administer melittin, an acidic venom. I could feel the pierce of the stinger, and then the burn of the venom, and then a slow heat radiating out from each puncture.
It felt magical, like the first time I understood Buddhist philosophy and its promise that there’s a way to move past suffering in any moment. It also felt magical because I imagine being zapped in the hand by a magic wand would make one’s hand feel warm and thick and full of some other energy force.
In those moments, finding Buddhism or being stung, life slowed down and came into hard relief. Being pulled so completely into anything sometimes leaves me so focused I can’t see a way out of the thing–for good or bad–and Buddhist philosophy and meditation have given me a way to try and remind myself that this moment, any moment, will pass and something new will come.
I’m excited to have a byline in Lion’s Roar, but it’s also cool to have this piece featured in the Buddhist Justice Reporter, which publishes writing seeking to answer a complex question: How do and how can the values of truth, awakening, compassion, wisdom, skillful means, lovingkindness, joy, and equanimity manifest in these times?
The Reporter came about to explore the horrors and events surrounding the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Today, the publication has expanded beyond that moment in time to covering “Buddhist perspectives on justice” so that practitioners can “become skillful agents of social change in the interest of compassion and wisdom.”
I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the discussion about justice and Buddhism and “moving on,” even as I know that this too, shall pass.