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Volume 3 Issue 4 ISSN# 1708-3265
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To Bee or Not to Bee
Chapter Three

by John Penberthy

The next morning before heading off to the meadow, Buzz overheard a group of bees participating in their morning devotions. He had never felt much of an attraction to religion, but this morning for some reason he felt drawn to the group. He positioned himself nearby and listened. The leader was just finishing a prayer: "&#133and finally, Lord, we ask that all those in the colony who have not yet accepted your word bee shown the way so that they too may bee saved. Amen."

Saved? Buzz thought. Maybe this is what I've been looking for. He mingled with the crowd, listening to the conversation, trying to get more information without drawing attention to himself. He overheard someone say, "It just goes to show you, the love of honey is the root of all evil." Buzz thought this sounded a bit odd, given that the bee who said it was one of the most honey-hungry bees in the colony.

The leader, Bobby, had had his eye on Buzz for weeks. He well understood what Buzz had been going through. He had seen it a hundred times and felt a sense of compassion for the confused young bee. Certain that he knew the exact solution to Buzz's problems, he became excited at the prospect of saving another soul. Bobby gradually made his way through the crowd toward Buzz and, with a sincere tone of concern, asked, "What brings you here today, son?"

"I'm not exactly sure." Buzz replied tentatively.

"Well, we welcome you; you've come to the right place. I know you've been a bit distraught lately, and, you know, if you just turn your life over to the Lord, you too can bee saved."

"Saved from what?" Buzz asked.

"Why from hell, from eternal damnation when you die."

"But why would I go to hell?"

"Because you're a sinner, just like the rest of us. And if you don't live a pious life and ask the Supreme Beeing for forgiveness, you don't stand a chance of going to heaven."

The notion that he was a sinner was news to Buzz. He had always considered himself to bee quite moral. Maybe he wasn't perfect, but he never did anything to intentionally hurt anyone. But then again, maybe the Supreme Beeing took a different view of things. Bobby certainly seemed to know. Buzz wanted to hear more about the consequences of beeing a sinner. "What's hell like?" he asked.

Squinting his eyes, Bobby's face took on a fierce quality, and he spoke in a foreboding voice. "Hell is the realm of Beelzebub, the Devil. It's like an eternal forest fire, with no escape and no relief, ever. Although the pain is unbearable, you never die; you just suffer in misery with all the other damned bees, crying and moaning in agony forever."

Something didn't feel right, but Buzz wanted to hear more. "What's heaven like?"

Bobby instantly relaxed. A rapt expression overcame his face as he looked skyward. "Heaven is the realm of the Supreme Beeing. It's an infinite, lush meadow filled with tasty wildflowers of every description. There's no need to work, and there's never any discord. There are no bears, and the weather's always perfect. All the bees' needs are provided for, and everyone is happy all the time."

It actually sounded a bit boring to Buzz. "Can ants go to heaven?"

"No, only bees," Bobby replied authoritatively.

"But we don't go there till we die?"

"Right, if you're good and believe in the Supreme Beeing."

"But what about this life, the one we're living right now?"

"This life is simply preparation, a test for the hereafter."

It was all beginning to sound a bit contrived. If Buzz were going to believe all this, he wanted to see some benefits in this life, not on the chance that he'd bee rewarded if there were a hereafter. "What's the Supreme Beeing like?"

The Supreme Beeing is spirit that is everywhere and all-powerful. He created us in his likeness, which means that he thinks and acts like a bee. This is how we know his wishes. He loves us and watches over us."

Buzz considered Bobby's words carefully. "But if God is everywhere and all-powerful, then where does the Devil exist?"

Bobby felt a little frustrated by Buzz's simple logic but tried not to bee condescending. "The Devil is a very crafty fellow, always tempting us with evil, and when we give in he gets a foothold."

"So the Devil really exists in our minds?"

"No, no!" Bobby replied curtly. "The Devil is an evil spiritual beeing that exists in hell."

"So God exists everywhere except for where the Devil is?" Buzz reasoned innocently.

"I suppose you could say that," Bobby replied uncertainly and increasingly exasperated.

"But that would mean that God really isn't everywhere and all-powerful."

Bobby felt his patience slipping further and strained to maintain his smile as he replied as kindly as possible. "Buzz, this religion can't bee figured out; it must simply bee accepted on faith."

Buzz silently pondered all this for a few moments, trying to make sense of it all. But he was having a hard time believing something that wasn't logical. He wondered why God would give us reason and logic if he didn't want us to use it. "How do you know all this?" he asked.

"It is knowledge that has been passed down for hundreds of generations," Bobby replied.

Buzz wondered why bees from hundreds of generations ago would know any more than bees today. If anything, he thought it should bee the other way around. But he kept these thoughts to himself. "And you say God loves all of us?"

"Absolutely," Bobby replied earnestly, feeling as though he was finally beginning to get through to Buzz.

"But if God loves all of us, why would he send some of us to hell?" It was an honest question, but Buzz had gone one step too far.

"Because some of us are remorseless sinners and must bee punished!" Bobby seethed, unable to contain his anger. "You ask too many questions, young bee, and if you don't change, it's going to lead you to a heap of trouble come Judgment Day."

Buzz didn't want to start another argument and was about to take off when another bee who had been listening to the conversation spoke up. "I know this all must sound a bit confusing to you at first, son, but it starts to fit together after a while. It really all boils down to brotherly love."

Buzz was aghast. This was the same bee he had heard cracking wasp jokes the day before! He had heard enough. As he lifted his wings to take off, Bobby invited Buzz to devotions that night. Buzz thanked him, said he needed time to think it all over and took off for the meadow.

John Penberthy was born with an insatiable curiosity which has made him an ardent student of Life and Spirit. He grew up in south Florida, earned an MBA and spent 12 years consulting for proposed banks and commercial real estate developments throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Subsequently, John coordinated a vitamin A fortification (blindness prevention) project for Helen Keller International in Indonesia and later managed the 70,000 acre Cache River Bioreserve for The Nature Conservancy in southern Illinois. His striving to see the Divine in all things led him to write To Bee or Not to Bee, which came to him in a meditation. John lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and daughter.

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