The Humming Hive: Life-giving Work (#Small Wonder Link-up)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt - marvelous error!-
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.

- from Last Night as I Was Sleeping, by Antonio Machado

Two batches of oatmeal-peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies.

One box of brownies.

A double-batch of Zuppa Tuscana and another double of Lentil- Spinach Soup.

Cleaning the yard, cleaning the house and mopping for the first time in (gulp) “a while.”

These are the things my husband and I did on Thursday and Friday as we prepared for this weekend’s two writing events.

It was a lot of work.


Thursday morning the twins’ preschool hours – the time in which I usually write – were filled with activity.  Late into the afternoon I scooped teaspoonful’s of cookie dough onto well-greased pans.  Into the oven they went, then onto the stovetop to cool, off the pan and into a large Tupperware container. 

I chopped a bagful of potatoes and several onions.  I sautéed and simmered, while washing an endless stream of dishes.  We had frozen pizza for dinner because I was so busy cooking ahead.  The twins were relieved to know all of that soup was not meant for them.

The entire afternoon and on into the evening I spent spinning from counter to stove, sink and oven in that small corner of the kitchen.  At some point, on one of those rounds of cutting and sliding things into a pot, in the midst of washing and rinsing I felt it – something like a happy hive of humming bees buzzing inside my chest. 

“I love this," I thought.

The feeling continued on into the next day – through scooping up the piles of “dog dirt” scattered around the yard, cleaning the toilets and plotting the arrangement of chairs and tables. 

Then the people came.

First Andi – the writer/editor I met last summer.  Andi, who inspired our search for a dream house with the vulnerable sharing of her own dreams.  Andi, who showed me last summer how simple a retreat could be. 

Next came the kids – eleven total.    

The kids were off-the-wall with Friday night fever and a little dose of sass, but when they started writing things grew quiet for a few splendid minutes while colored pencils scratched ideas to life.  

Later, with shinning faces they shared their stories.  My son came to me, leaned in close and whispered his in my ear. 

After they left, silence crept into the corners of the house.  We tucked the folding table and chairs away and slept in the unfamiliar stillness that is a house not filled with children. 

Saturday, more people came, new faces and familiar ones, published authors and people wondering what they were doing here.  Everyone carried hope and doubt, everyone had placed a stake in the ground by the simple act of arrival.

Seated in a large circle in the living room, I was grateful.  I was not stressed. I was not anxious.  I marveled at the gift of presence shared among a group for a few short hours.  I wondered at the way people, when given a chance, open and blossom like bright flowers; how we are all more beautiful, more gifted, and more broken than we might ever dare imagine or admit. 

Afterward, when the grownups left and our kids came home from a friend’s house, the peacefulness prevailed.  There was a calm in our house, a quiet buzz of contentment.  And I wondered if it wasn’t because we’d spent it all, and spent it well in a way that fit just right for us. 


For each of us there's work that leads to death and work that leads to life – work that depletes and work that replenishes.  While we cannot always chose between the two – life unfortunately demands both – finding and settling in to work which gives life even as it is spent is a gift beyond measure.  Something sweet like honey.

Frederich Beuchner calls it, “The place where our own deep gladness meets the world’s deep needs.”  Others, like Parker Palmer, call it Vocation – or – “the thing that we cannot not do.”  

However you put it, however long it takes you to find it, no matter how much must be lost in the process, do not forget my friends - 

There is a hive inside your heart, 
golden and still.  It whispers 
in the quiet of the night, 
in the stillness before wakefulness.  
It is no dream.  It is the gift 
of who you are, the seed, 
the soil and sunlight, 
the sticky sweet pollen 
that spreads and changes
into golden light.  Listen,
if you can, and you will 
hear its happy hum.      

*   *   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days. 

You're invited to link-up a brief post of about five hundred words or less about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.   


  1. Kelly, OK, I think this is my favorite post thus far which I have read of yours :) Every word spoke deeply especially the poem at the very end. Praying this morning for some of the "hives" I know of to flourish & produce in Him. Thank you for sharing this today. It was more timely than you could ever know! Blessings!

  2. Kelly,

    Loved the imagery of the happy hum inside of you as you buzzed about in the kitchen preparing physical tokens of your love for others :-) Thank you!

  3. Oh, this is just lovely! So glad the weekend went well, and thank you for these lovely words.

  4. You said it beautiful aright! "work that leads to death and work that leads to life" - I've lived that and God moved me to the work that leads to life, though I'm learning how to live it gracefully! This, too "“the thing that we cannot not do" - I know that - and it is like a hive of bees humming inside when it works its way right - a happy hum!!!! Your post just vibrates with that the deepness of it!

  5. I love everything about this post, Kelly. From this image of contentment - "something like a happy hive of humming bees buzzing inside my chest" - to the image of work that replenishes, even as we are spent. I love that you did not feel anxiety, but hopeful anticipation. That the group of you experienced the gift of presence among each other. I'm so happy reading this, friend, how this experience that required courage and work of you, ended up surprising you so. Thank you for passing it along.

  6. Finding our happy place in work is a beautiful buzz. Glad things went well and were so fulfilling. You were in your zone. :)