Fringes June 2021: Tell the Bees

Our June service for many years now has centered around poems about bees and honey and sweetness. While last year our liturgy had very little sweetness, as we prayed our response to the growing COVID crisis and the murder of George Floyd and the response to that murder, this year we made space for the sweet even within ongoing crises.

We built the service around the folk custom of “telling the bees” – for centuries farmers who kept bees for both honey and the urgent work of pollination would tell the bees about deaths and other changes in the family. Hives might be draped in black crepe, or a slice of wedding cake left for the bees, or a goodbye before a journey – the bees needed to be told lest they fly away.

You can download our liturgy as a PDF here.

We used a song from the wonderful Bengsons, which you can watch online. “Hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes”

For our torah study Elliott taught the havurah about the history of Indian Boarding Schools – the violence of these, the unrecorded deaths, the intentional cultural destructions – as a way of understanding the uprising of grief in Native communities across the continent after the remains of 215 children were found at Komloops school in Canada. We made the connections between this history and its ongoing repercussions to current Israeli government displacement of and violence against Palestinians. You can see the notes for the talk in the liturgy; here are a few other resources:

From Indian Country Today, “We Won’t Forget About the Children”

From High Country News, “The U.S. stole generations of Indigenous Children”

From The Guardian, “The discovery of unmarked children’ graves”

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