Last summer, I noticed the Easter lilies and bees in a small garden on my way to church where I walk every weekday. I first observed how all the bees were hovering over a bunch of blossoms. Next, a single bee’s flight to the flower attracted my attention with so much curiosity that I caught myself only inches away from the pair! When I realized how focused the bee was on the flower itself, and was not going to come in my direction, I relaxed, looked carefully, and saw how the bee stopped in the middle of the flower and then disappeared into its body, resurfacing a few moments later.
I lingered longer and leaned in even closer to see where the disappearing bee had gone. To my great surprise and delight, I saw the bee drop from the middle of the flower upside down to the bottom of the flower, ever so gently. When the bee reached the bottom, it began to roll back and forth, like a dog on its back in the middle of a plush plot of grass…to collect some of the pollen that had gathered there! Afterward, the bee slowly and somewhat “drunkenly” climbed up the middle of the flower (pollinating it in the process). Then the bee staggered on to the next flower to continue its encounter with another flower.
Recalling this memory about the flower and the bee reminds me to live in the moment. As Meister Eckhart notes, “There exists only the present instant…a Now which always and without end is itself new. There is no yesterday not any tomorrow, but only Now, as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence,” and again, “The most significant person is precisely the one sitting across from you right now. The most necessary work is love.”
I have been reminded of the importance of “being in the moment” by the flower and the bee in so many other moments over the course of my sabbatical. I hope to carry this incredible gift back with me as I transition back to a “regular” ministry in the years to come!
Pope Francis has often written about these moments of “encounter” and encourages us to develop the capacity for them. He wrote about a “culture of encounter” in his morning meditation of Tuesday, September 13, 2016:
An invitation to work for “the culture of encounter,” in a simple way, “as Jesus did”: not just seeing, but looking; not just hearing, but listening; not just passing people by, but stopping with them; not just saying “what a shame, poor people!,” but allowing yourself to be moved with compassion; “and then to draw near, to touch and to say: ‘Do not weep’ and to give at least a drop of life.”
If you’re curious about how to look at the world differently, through the eyes and ears of a contemplative encounter, just stop and look around you. What do you see? What do you hear? Just be!
Interested in learning more about religious life? Consider talking with one of our vocation ministers, who are here to walk with you to help you discover how God is calling you in your life. You’re also invited to check out our upcoming Vocation programs, such as the Mission for Peace – Mission and Service Program, June 2-6, 2023 in Akron, Ohio.