I remember learning the meaning of the word confluence as a young child…my summer vacations growing up meant visting both sets of grandparents and some great grand parents in far eastern Ohio, close to the Ohio river. This was the land of KDKA on the radio, Mail Pouch tobacco signs painted on the sides of barns, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is the confluence of the Ohio, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela rivers that forms Three River stadium where the Pirates played.
This morning and afternoon brought back some of those childhood memories for a wholly other type of confluence…this one to do with bees, public radio, God, and poetry…among other things.
This morning as I drove back from spending the night in Saint Louis, i listened to an interview on public radio. The person being interviewed referred to poetry as that place where “reality slips” and room is created for us to step in and name more truly, touch more deeply, the essential of what surrounds us. Poetry as the place where the ineffably divine meets what is most real.
With that already dancing in my spirit, I spent time this afternoon in the backyard of a friend’s house…a backyard that includes much life and many things that bloom, including a variety of flowering sage. I was captivated by the extraordinary number of bees that honed in on the purple spikes and found myself wanting to be closer…to see more intimately what the bees were doing. So, I rolled down my sleeves…and a while later wrote this…
…just spent some long moments with my head as part of the border in a batch of flowering sage, watching the congregation of bees working their way diligently up and down each spike…baby bees, bumble bees, drones… Because I was sitting on the brick, my head was just level with the flowers and the fifty-plus bees that were in a buzz. It was a uniquely intimate experience to be in the midst of them and not be afraid of being stung. In fact, the bees seemed to know of my presence but skimmed by me, never landing. Moments like this are the same sorts of moments in poetry when reality slips…when I have the chance to take a step into the Great Ineffable through extraordinary connection with what surrounds me…when it is possible to believe again as I did as a child that if I pay close enough attention, I will be afforded a glimpse of the inner life, the inner working, of whatever bit of Glory is the present captivation.