Bees warmed up to that sermon

Published 1:29 am Saturday, April 1, 2017

I might have told you the story of the bees in the church before, but I kept getting reminders of that day recently when I saw bees drawing sweetness from azalea and wisteria blossoms in my yard.

One nippy Sunday morning when my husband served the small congregation of a weather-beaten rural church, we opened one of the warped front doors and hurried inside, seeking the warmth from a couple of gas heaters. In a few minutes, after greeting some church members, our daughter took her place at the piano bench, I settled in on a front pew, and my husband approached the pulpit. While we were singing the first hymn, I brushed away a bee buzzing close to my head. It was not unusual, since on mornings when the church was bathed in sunshine, we noticed a few bees and sometimes wasps cluster on the inside part of the windows. We knew they flew from openings in the ceilings of the steadily decaying building that dated back to the late 1800s.

A single light socket hung from the ceiling. Plain handmade pews faced the pulpit platform. Several of graduated height sat to the left and right of the pulpit. Behind and to the left and right of the pulpit were windows. I admit the windows could be a little distracting. I enjoyed watching the seasons change through those windows. They revealed freshly plowed ground set off by a sudden burst of pear blossoms in the spring; a scene of lush and green during the summer; a brown and bare field in the fall and winter. The building was isolated except for a small cemetery across the road.

Earlier that Sunday morning a thoughtful member of the church had lighted the heaters. I noticed that it was getting quite warm, both from the heaters and the bright sunlight coming through the windows. By the time, the preacher began delivering his message, more and more bees had clustered on the windows. My attention often strayed from the sermon to bees now also hovering overhead, close to the ceiling. In spite of their numbers, few moved close to the people. But the buzzing sounds grew louder and louder. It became harder to keep my mind on the sermon.

Our daughter had left the piano and sat beside me on the pew. We exchanged anxious glances when we noticed her daddy brush a bee away from his head, then one from his Bible. He preached on, swatting one bee, then brushing another away,

When the last “Amen” was uttered, our daughter and I reached a door at the same time. What a relief it was to jerk it open and step outside to safety under a giant oak tree. Others in the congregation followed suit, confessing they felt just like we did.

The preacher? He said he was concentrating on his sermon and did not intend to let a few insects interfere with his message.


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.