Bees at Midnight: Swimming Upstream by Mother Diane

November 14, 2020

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Bees at Midnight is a compilation of reflections during Mother Diane’s twelve-week internship on a farm in Oregon while on her journey to becoming a priest. This collection of short stories captures her beautiful experience and candid musings. We have shared one story a week, and this story completes the collection.

Preface (9/19) | Rock Festival (9/26) | The Parade (10/3) | Seeds and Weeds 10/10 | Cockcrow (10/17) | Housecats and Barncats (10/24) | Bees at Midnight (10/31) | Fancy That (11/7) | Swimming Upstream (11/14)

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” (I Cor. 2; 12)

Swimming Upstream

About two weeks before the end of the internship, my thoughts began to leap forward to the responsibilities and duties that I would be returning to in California, thoughts of my job and of my senior year in seminary at CDSP. Feeling the need to try to center myself once again in the present experience at the farm, I walked down to the creek sometime before Compline. The sunlight of the day was fading, and the water looked murky, dark and thick, even with the sparkles of silver and grey dancing on the surface. I was reminded of the ongoing flow of events that I would be returning to and also of how often we can get swept up and carried along in our daily concerns without sensing our own purposiveness or God’s purpose in our lives. It was the precise opposite of the thought that the river’s transparency reminded me of during the day—of the flowing forth of God’s purpose in the clearness of the water and its journey to the sea. Now I was touched by the earth’s dark side and mysteries we cannot often even pretend to understand.

How can we know what to do when what was clear is barely perceived in darkness? How do we seek God’s purpose in the midst of forces so awesome that we sit in trembling wonder, mesmerized by the moments and the stillness? What sign of grace exists here and now if we could just see?

Just then there was a ripple on the water, something moving against the current, coming almost imperceptibly up the center of the stream. Ever so smoothly and effortlessly it glided toward me. I watched in wonder waiting to discover what it was that broke through all my ponderings, as if by design.

A beaver! It came out of the water just across from me on the other bank. And it began to go about its appointed task, gathering tree branches for its dam.

My heart stopped in joyful delight in my surprise. There was the sign of God’s grace that night—an animal so adapted to its world that it could swim against the current with ease and grace and then go about its business. That, I have often thought since, is what we have to do. We have to be able to understand God’s grace in its depths as well as its transparency, to adapt to move as easily against the currents that the world would use to sweep us away as that beaver swimming upstream. And then we have to continue doing the work we have been given to do.

My seeing the beaver was a first at Taucross Farm, that is what Father John said. So I choose to believe that my time at the creek that night was a special gift. The farm has many such gifts to give if one will look. To see them we have only to still ourselves and wait in expectation. Signs and wonders are all around us, the ordinary made extraordinary by the Spirit of God.

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