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The Gospel is Sweet
 Larry Duggins

[A couple of weeks ago,] I watched the first harvest of honey from the bee hives at Haw Creek. There was joy, there was learning, there was cooperation and helping – there were so many wonderful affirmations of how a group of bee keepers can be a church.

The process was guided by Ricky Manning, a gentle soul with many years of experience keeping bees. Ricky did not do everything himself. He did not preach a sermon on the process of gathering honey. Instead, he led his group of learning bee-keepers out to the hives, and demonstrated, guided and taught. Ricky got stung along with the rest of them – two of the “girls” crawled under his hood and got him on both sides of his jaw – but Ricky hung in there, in the middle of things.

Our bee-keepers speak very respectfully of the bees – they are the “girls” and when they disapproved of having the honey frames removed, they were just “feeling frisky.” The bees are carefully tended, and great care is taken to be certain that they are heathy, free of mites, and have plenty to eat when the excess is removed.

Our bee-keepers taught each other, and took turns in trying the process so that they all could gain experience. Ricky took care to coach without interfering – “hold the heat knife at a bit of an angle to cleanly slice the caps off of the cells full of honey” – “turn the honey centrifuge slowly at first so that the full comb is not torn apart by the force” – and everyone got a turn trying so that the lesson was solidified through experience.

And then the honey started to flow – it was light, clear and sweet, perhaps from the nectar of sourwood trees nearby. The bees, the teacher, the students and interns and volunteers all came together to create and harvest the beautiful sweet honey that will bless literally hundreds of people as the honey is shared and enjoyed. A wonderful gift borne of cooperation, awareness of nature, care for creation, love of each other – the Gospel is sweet.