I have never been one for honey. Nope – not on toast or bagels, neither in tea or spoon-fed directly into my mouth as I prefer with Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s. Simply put, honey is just too sweet. I raised this concern about ‘sweetness’ with Rwandans time and time again when they would place 5 heaping spoonfuls of sugar in their tea (or on occasion, coffee) and they would raise their eyebrows and hands in disapproval. In that world, if you have sugar, salt, and bananas, you are good to go. Divine once told me, “eh! You have tea but no sugar? My God. Don’t even cook that tea.”
About the honey.
I avoid it because it tastes so sugar-infused that it automatically laces and intertwines my pearly whites with a coat of frost, like a windshield at 5am following a cold fall night in Denver.
Well, turns out, real honey changes everything.
Like Winnie the Pooh with hands in the honey pot, sticky, slimy, and feeling no shame, I found myself holding ounces of pure, bee-fresh honey last Saturday morning. I, along with 4 little ‘Growing Colorado Kids’ youth, were in charge of harvesting the best of the farm’s honey. The bees nest on the property had been largely wiped out from the cold winter and so it was time to salvage what was left before the new season of bee-working honey makers started.
Growing Colorado Kids is an organization that I have written about before, but it never ceases to amaze me. It is a non-profit ran by the formidable and inspiring Denise, a friend of mine from when I worked at a Denver women’s shelter, The Gathering Place. She wanted a farm and hot dang, she did it. We used to mend urban gardens at various Denver homes in the city, but once she had the land and the capability, she went to the farm country as soon as possible. Donkeys, chickens, horses, you name it. And they all have names – which makes it even better, let’s be real.
Every ‘Farm Saturday’, volunteers and immigrant youth plant, harvest, and hang out together. Or, like this particular Saturday, ooze out honey from the honeycomb. The girls I was working with – ages 7-9 – watched in awe and then helped scrape the liquid from the wooden planks until all of the wax entered a filter for the honey to be separated. They were delightful the entire time – imagining bathing in a tub full of the stuff, or what would happen if all the bees in the world collaborated together in one spot. Like little beekeepers, they were fearless.
Isn’t that what makes kids great?
Imagination. Curiosity, Enthusiasm.
I think that is why one weekend of volunteering has become two, then three, then a full-long-term commitment.
Before harvesting honey and after planting potatoes earlier that morning, the young girls and I were discussing the soil and water and how all of it works together. These young ladies have a greater perception of earth than even I do – they have spent a good chunk of their lives in other countries, namely Kenya and Thailand. Mostly in refugee camps. They’ve experienced a very different life than I could even begin to understand.
I tried fumbling an answer from my distant memory of high school biology in regards to how the atmosphere works, when the small little girl from Kenya stopped me and simply said,
“God doesn’t waste one drop of water.”
It was like, the most profound statement I had heard in a really long time.
Because it’s true – about water, about us, about honey, about soil – everything.
Our lives – each of them – fit into a larger story. God created us with intention, purpose, and meaning. We are not wasted or disregarded in His eyes. Like the shepard that chases just one sheep, He will seek and strive to be with all of us. Believing this, and hearing what this young lady said above, I smiled deeply in that moment. With more insight than some adults even have, I knew she was on to something.
Oh – and the last thing I should note about the honey.
Coming straight from the honeycomb, count me in, I’ll eat that all, day long. It was delicious – with the perfect amount of sweetness.