One of my favorite days of the year was the day Gregor Mendel came to Class as a guest lecturer. He did much of his work on sweet pea plants, but the basic principles apply to most plants and animals. Usually, he worked in solitude in a monastery with no one understanding what he was doing.
Interestingly, he decided not to publish his results and after he died his exhaustive notes and journals were stored in the attic of the monastery. 50 years later, a newly appointed Abbot directed a major spring-cleaning operation. A bon fire was built to incinerate the unwanted clutter.
Thankfully, just before Mendel’s work was about to be tossed on the fire, the Abbot decided to look into the folders. He didn’t understand what Mendel had done, but packed up all the files and sent them to the local university. The biology professors were shocked and elated with his discoveries, which later earned him the title of: “Father of genetics.”
In a funny coincidence, the term “selective breeding” (shown on the chalk board) relates to the placard on the bookshelf.
Getting anything done around here is like mating elephants. There is a lot of pushing and shoving and loud trumpeting and 18 months later the results are revealed.
The reality of the elephants became a metaphor for each year of Biodesign sans reproduction. LOL As we explored the interrelatedness of Nature and human spirituality, there was often a lot of mental pushing and shoving and loud trumpeting. All metaphors break down and typically, the results were not magically evident at nine months, but would take a lifetime to be revealed.
One of my favorite learning activities of each Biodesign Class was to consider the socio-cultural importance of the plants, animals and people associated with secular and religious holidays, including Valentine’s Day.
Valentino of Terni was a 3rd century Catholic Bishop who was beheaded by Roman soldiers under the order of Claudius II. His “crimes” included secretly marrying couples in Christian nuptial ceremonies, which were contrary to pagan Roman law. Also, he boldly and publicly cited the apostle Paul by claiming that love was God’s greatest gift to humankind. When given the choice of renouncing his faith or face execution, he opted for death. He died at the age of 42.
Although Valentine lived before microscopes were invented, they would eventually play an instrumental role in unlocking some of the biological secrets that lead to the sacred act of procreation.
In 1590, Zacharias Janssen invented the first microscope. In 1677, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, was the first to describe, “wee cavorting beasties,” which included human spermatozoa.
Discoveries in this area led to the discovery of perhaps one of the greatest human mysteries; the union of a single sperm and ovum to produce the human zygote.
According to Lewis Thomas, M.D./ author of The Medusa and the Snail; “The mere existence of that cell should be one of the greatest astonishments of earth. People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, talking of nothing but that cell.”
Each sperm contains about 3 billion bases of genetic information, representing 750 Mbytes of digital information. The average human ejaculate contains around 180 million sperm cells. So, that’s 180 x 10^6 haploid cells x 750 Mbytes/haploid cell = 135 x10^9 Mbytes=135000 Terabytes!!!! Without this process happening, the human race would die out in one generation.
Contemplating this reminded me of Roger Sperry, M.D./neurobiologist and Nobel laureate, author of, “Science and Moral Priority,” and “Yoking Science and Religion.” We were connected by a huge synchronicity, which occurred in August 1983. Omni Magazine published an issue that included Sperry’s discoveries of the human right-brain/ left-brain phenomena and a related article, “The Superiority of the Female Brain.”
The article focused on the cerebral hemispheres and corpus collosum, which essentially is a wall between the two sides of the brain. Stated briefly, female brains have verbal centers in both hemispheres with more connections between words, memories, and feelings. Male brains tend to only have verbal centers in the left hemisphere with fewer connections between words, memories, and feelings. This has led to the facetious reference to males as having “reptilian” brains. LOL
During the early years of the Biodesign Class, it dawned on me that the girls had an inside track on spirituality. This was confirmed many times in class, but especially following each epic field trip. When the students presented their post-trip reflections, the girls were often better at describing transcending moments involving mystery, wonder and awe. On those occasions a typical male response was; “That’s exactly how I felt, but I couldn’t find the words to express myself adequately.” They had sincerely identified and described the limitations of their own brains.
PBS aired a program focused on love and the human brain. The speaker was a psychiatrist/marriage counselor, with a record of successfully helping many dysfunctional couples avoid the devastating trip to a divorce court. He asserted that many of the problems that they encounter (including matters of intimacy) are due to their failure to understand the differences between female and male brains. He proceeded to offer some techniques that could be used to improve looking, listening and feeling that would hopefully improve communication skills and not only save, but enrich their marriage.
One example he cited was that most men understand that a box of chocolates (preferably dark) can often spark a romantic interlude. However, he observed, most men have not made the connection that a trip to a women’s shoe boutique can also trigger a similar favorable result. He admitted that he had no scientific evidence of the connection of new shoes to female libido, but opined that mysteries were always beyond the purview of science.
While the Catholic Church has waffled over whether Valentine is a legitimate saint or not, his living spirit continues to empower millions of lovers to say, “I Love You,” right out loud.
It is a message that has found favor in the retail sector. Valentine greeting card, candy and flower sales exceed 20 billion dollars annually in the US.
In a normal year, hundreds of millions of Christians would celebrate Epiphany on January 6, in commemoration of the day the Magi arrived at Bethlehem bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Although the word Epiphany comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “appearance” or “manifestation,” and refers to the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world, the term can have a broader application: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.
Unfortunately, 2020 has not been a normal year and for many of us, the accumulation of woes actually began October 8, 2017 with the explosion of The Tubbs Fire. The fire started in Calistoga, Ca., roared west to Santa Rosa, south to Sonoma, east to the Napa Valley and north to the outskirts of St. Helena. It burned 36,000 acres, destroyed 5,643 structures including 5,200 homes. Fortunately the fire was stopped at the outskirts of St. Helena.
On October 23, 2019, the Kincade Fire erupted in Sonoma Co., almost destroying the towns of Healdsburg and Windsor. It eventually destroyed nearly 78,000 acres, 352 structures including 167 homes. Although the fire did not threaten St. Helena, we were covered with a dense layer of smoke, which made breathing difficult for over a week.
On January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a world pandemic. For eight months we had been semi-isolated, wearing masks, restricting social contacts and practicing social distancing.
And then on September 29, 2020, the Glass/Boysen fires erupted. The fires charred 67,000 acres through much of northern Napa County and west into Sonoma Co. It destroyed 1,500 structures including 642 homes. Cal-Fire deployed 23 helicopters, 408 fire engines, 66 dozers, 27 hand crews, and 49 water tenders for a total of 2,773 personnel. Miraculously, once again, the fire was stopped at the St. Helena City limits.
Meanwhile, the pandemic intensified and for the first time in over 50 years it was not prudent for our family to gather for our annual Christmas dinner celebration. The culmination of 2020 woes left me with mixed feelings of confusion, depression, isolation and wondering if things will ever get better. And then I chanced across Ms. Minda Cox.
She had written a series of meditations for: Forward: Day by Day, a Bible-study guide that I was using. A blurb that described her as celebrated author, artist and motivational speaker did not seem too unusual until I discovered she was born without arms and legs. After discovering this, I discerned that her accomplishments were nothing short of miraculous.
She also provided me with an epiphany that put my 2020 woes and worries into a totally new perspective. I cannot imagine getting through a single day with the challenges she has to face. To say that she is a survivor would be a gross misrepresentation of the fact that she has thrived in conditions that less courageous people would probably have found impossible.
I can only imagine that Ms. Cox arises each morning filled with anticipation of what the new day will offer. I would consider myself blessed if I were able to (even in a small way) cultivate her attitude of optimism and face each day as a gift waiting to be unwrapped; one new epiphany after another.
Hoping that 2021 will be a; Feliz Año Nuevo! complete with many epiphanies.
According to the latest Pew research poll on religious preference, 4% of the American population self-identify as atheists. Does this mean that the other 96% of the people are on some form of spiritual path? Do they walk in solitude, or have they joined the caravan of seekers that is very long and very old?
“There is a principle which is pure, and placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages has had different names. It is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion, nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity.” – John Woolman
For many traditional Christians, the four weeks of Advent offer a designated period for reflecting over the history of their spiritual walk, hopefully to help prepare them for the coming year. Some anthropologists theorize that the dawn of mankind’s spiritual quest may have occurred about 100,000 years ago. Evidently they have recovered some primitive stone relics that appear to be offerings to a Higher Spiritual Power.
If this is so, it is a stunning revelation to think that it took 95,000 years for the Hindu religion to emerge; currently 900 million followers.
It took 96,000 years before Moses hiked up Mt. Sinai to record “The Ten Commandments” and help establish Judaism; current world population of about 15 million followers.
It took about 97,400 years for Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu to write the, “Tao Te Ching,” and launch “Taoism” (The Way). Taoism has no Godhead and is widely regarded as a philosophy dedicated to living in harmony with Nature and fellow humans; current followers number about 20 million.
About the same time, Gautama Buddha established Buddhism. Buddhism also lacks a Godhead and he warned his followers to not make a religion out of his teachings; currently about 300 million followers.
About 1,500 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad emerged and founded the Islamic religion; current population of about 1.8 billion followers.
Meanwhile, there are an estimated 1.4 billion people who are spiritual seekers but remain unaffiliated with a formal creed or religion. These could include our Native American brothers and sisters as well as countless indigenous tribes around the world.
However, last and (arguably) the most important of all; 98,000 years elapsed before the greatest human mystery, wonder and miracle on Earth occurred; the birth of Jesus Christ. The event has resulted in the greatest story ever told and is celebrated by 2.3 billion followers.
The story’s greatness was not overlooked by world-renown anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, who wrote:
“Whether we speak of a God come down to earth or a man inspired toward God and betrayed upon a cross, the dream was great and shook the world like a storm.”
Although the “cross” is probably the most common symbol of Christianity, perhaps the symbolism should; “not be confined to any form of religion, nor excluded from any.”
The vertical beam could represent anyone whose base is grounded in the spiritual search for universal truth, beauty and goodness and upper end extends to infinity, eternity and a loving Creator. The horizontal beam could represent the open arms of anyone who embraces the wisdom of Mother Nature, humanity and the quintessential importance of faith, hope and love.
Even though the time frames may not prove to be exact, what is not in doubt is that spirituality has played a huge role in the biological and socio-cultural evolution of mankind. Perhaps, this is what Advent is all about.
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart
Paraphrasing fellow “biology watcher,” Lewis Thomas (“The Lives of a Cell”) we ought to be greeting each other daily with ecstasy and wonderment by how magnificently we have been created!
When was the last time someone told you; “you are made in the image of God”? If this has never happened to you, I would be honored to be the first. Although the words can be found in the Bible (and other spiritual sources) reading them is not the same as having another person offer the ultimate human validation. It gives credence to Pierre de Chardin’s contention that humans are first and foremost spiritual beings. If this is true, then we are supremely privileged to walk in the presence of spiritual giants. Many of the world’s greatest people belong to the pantheon of believers.
Edward Farrell addresses this wonderful possibility in his collection of “Celtic Meditations:” titled “People.”
“The deepest contemplation next to God is another person. You are little less than the angels, crown of creation, image of God. What is man that God is mindful of him…? The most beautiful, fascinating creature in all the world is another person—the face, smile, eyes, vibration, walk, voice. In a single face there is incredible variety.”
Ironically, due to covid-19, this year millions of people will feel the tragic spiritual disconnect of family and friends by sheltering-in-place as nuclear families to celebrate their Thanksgiving Dinner.
It may be that the greatest Thanksgiving gift a person can give is to suggest to a family member, friend or loved one that they truly are, “made in the image of God.” This, of course, includes all of our Fb friends:
“We are in each other’s life for a reason. Thank you for showing up.”
This Thanksgiving Season we are especially grateful that our home miraculously survived the “Boysen Fire” and we are able to send blessings from our home to yours.
When I began teaching environmental biology (1964) it seemed prudent to join The Audubon Society. The society was formed in 1905 probably inspired by John Muir’s creation of the Sierra Club in 1892. The membership included a monthly magazine that contained stunning Nature photos and relevant current event articles. At the beginning of each issue, the editors included: “A Statement of Audubon Philosophy.”
We believe in the wisdom of Nature’s design.
We know that soil, water, plants and wild creatures depend on each other and are vital to human life.
We recognize that each living thing links to many others in the chain of nature.
We believe that persistent research into the intricate patterns of outdoor life will help to assure wise use of Earth’s abundance.
We condemn no wild creature and work to assure that no living species shall be lost.
We believe that every generation should be able to experience spiritual and physical refreshment in places where primitive nature is undisturbed.
So we will be vigilant to protect wilderness areas, refuges, and parks and to encourage good use of nature’s storehouse of resources.
We dedicate ourselves to the pleasant task of opening the eyes of young and old that all may come to enjoy the beauty of the outdoor world and share in conserving its wonders forever.
– Audubon: March 1954
It is no wonder that the opening line of “The Audubon Philosophy” became part of the title and foundation that The Biodesign Class was built on.
Although I knew the steps by heart, my relationship with “step 6” was purely intellectual and definitely not soul-stirring. That all changed in 1972 when Lettie asked her fateful question (Biodesign Out For A Walk, Page 2) which led to meeting John Muir and hundreds of Naturalists, saints, sinners, sages and poets who were seeking a spirit-filled life.
My relationship with students was not unilateral, but reciprocal. I was supremely blessed to see Yosemite, Grand Canyon and California’s Mendocino Coast through the eyes of over 700 students. Mother Nature may have been opening their eyes and in turn, they were opening mine.
This is exactly what the Audubon Society was promoting and it was an honor to identify with and represent their philosophy.
This letter is a rebuttal to the Sierra Club’s odious attempt to besmirch the legacy and writing of John Muir, their legendary founder. It is my contention that, like every human on Earth, Muir was imperfect yet he achieved the status of two world-renown spiritual paragons.
St. Francis of Assisi
Indulged by his parents, Francis lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man. He was handsome, witty, gallant, and delighted in fine clothes. He spent money lavishly until a chance encounter with a beggar. The encounter transformed every fiber of his being and led to him taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Francis preached the Christian doctrine that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffers a need for redemption because of human sin. As someone who saw God reflected in nature, St. Francis was a great lover of God’s creation. In the Canticle of the Sun he gives God thanks for Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth, all of which he sees as rendering praise to God. (adapted from Wikipedia)
The spirit of St. Francis is alive and well with over 1,000 friars and over 40 Franciscan colleges or universities throughout the US.
St. Ignatius of Loyola
There are accounts of Ignatius of Loyola being a fancy dresser, an expert dancer, and a womanizer. However, during a religious awakening the writing that most particularly struck him was the De Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony. This book would influence his whole life, inspiring him to devote himself to God and follow the example of Francis of Assisi and other great monks.
After his conversion he created the brotherhood of Jesuits and sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. Currently there are 189 universities around the world that are dedicated to his values.
The spirit of Ignatius is alive and thrives in the hearts and minds of millions of teachers, students and followers throughout the world.
John of the Mountains
John Muir was born into a poor Scottish family with a father who brutally mistreated him ostensibly for religious reasons. As a young man he no doubt carried his youth-born scars to Yosemite where he underwent a transcending healing experience. Although most followers of Muir’s life and legacy tacitly understand that some of his descriptions of non-Caucasians were the result of using the vernacular of the times, they understand that historical context is often as important as anecdotal evidence.
Although Muir was mostly self-taught, he was highly educated. He would have known about brilliant scientists Galileo and Newton. He would have been familiar with great musicians such as Bach and Beethoven. He would have known great artists like Michelangelo and Rembrandt and he often carried a copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost and The New Testament with him. Robert Burns was his favorite poet and he knew many Shakespeare passages by heart. In that time period, knowing what he did, it would have been illogical for him to regard people who could not read or write or add a column of numbers as equals.
Muir went on to arguably become the greatest Naturalist in the world, whose life and legacy have inspired, guided, and encouraged countless millions to become “baptized in Nature.”
“John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.”
For many extended periods in his adult life, Muir lived alone, in the wilderness, sustained by dried bread balls and tea. This is a life-style that is practiced only in some of the most austere monasteries and it should not be surprising that his writings often convey a message of holiness.
His vision of “eco-spirituality” and preserving natural wonderlands as places to “play and pray” has spread globally. Before Muir’s time there were zero national parks in the world; today there are over 4,000. In the US, there are 62 designated National Parks and 559 National Monuments, Preserves and historical sites with 327 million annual visitors. State Parks in the US number over 10,000 with more visitors than the USNPS.
So the Sierra Club has proclaimed that Muir’s life and legacy encourage racism and white supremacy. In a profound irony, if he were alive today, I submit that he would be the first to agree that some of his vernacular would not be appropriate. However, the president of The Sierra Club has exercised his God-given right of free will in a cowardly act of casting the first stone. He may have his 5-minutes of fame, but Muir will maintain his saintly aura in the hearts of millions of devoted followers long after “what’s-his-name?” has left the planet.
About fifty years ago, long before I knew what a Jungian synchronicity was, I experienced one that still resonates with me on every clear night. I was the father of a two-year-old daughter and on a whim one evening, after her bath, I took her out to see the stars. At the tender age of two, she seemed perfectly capable of celebrating the mystery and wonder of the Universe.
After that first encounter, we established a nightly ritual. After her Mom bathed, dried, powdered her and tucked her into her sleeper, she was released. She would bound into the living room and launch her little body into my arms, overflowing with enthusiasm and say, “Show me the stars, Daddy!” And so, on every clear night, father and daughter shared the rapture of the Universe.
At the time, neither one of us knew that, 1600 years earlier, St. Augustine shared our passion for the stars. On one of his cosmic visits he pondered: “What did the Universe look like before time was created?” When asked what time is, he responded, “If you ask me I must reply that I do not know, but if you don’t ask, I know that I know.”
This may have been a beautiful manifestation of a typical dialogue between the human right brain and left brain. The right brain can contain wisdom that the left brain cannot quantify: ergo Mystery.
In spite of many boastful claims by many modern-day scientists, the truth of the matter is that St. Augustine’s query has yet to be answered. Scientists claim that the Universe is 14.5 billion years old, but the number may be arbitrary and meaningless, especially if we don’t know what time is. Some creative scientists suggest that the so-called “Big Bang” might be one of an infinite number of “Big Bang” events with each obliterating the evidence of all previous events. If this is true, we may never know where the Universe came from. Or, if the final stage of cosmic entropy is a “Big Gnab” (Bang in reverse), perhaps the Universe will return to a state of absolute nothingness. How intriguing would that be?
What terms like “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Unified Field Theory” and “The String Theory” all have in common is that they are all theories that have yet to be proved. And so scientists are still trapped in the conundrum of a Universe that has been created with no known cause. Of course, they cannot scientifically acknowledge a Supreme Being and therefore many of them scoff at religious beliefs.
They have addressed the oxymoronic dilemma of “matter cannot be created or destroyed” by claiming that quantum mechanics allows for the Universe to be so complex that it made itself out of NOTHING! (Stephen Hawking)
Meanwhile, the recent spike in racial strife and disharmony conjured up a distant memory of an event on top of Yosemite’s famous Half Dome. A Biodesign class was snuggled in a circle under a canopy of stars that were so brilliant that it seemed like we could reach out and pick a basket full. The students resonated with the wisdom of the Universe at a level that would make most astronomers blush. Suddenly, a small female voice quietly asked, “Why do people waste so much time and energy hating each other?” I suspect that every heart stopped briefly and the silence that ensued was absolute. No one had an answer.
I am growing old and 50 years after my first epiphany with my daughter, I go alone on my nightly pilgrimage to commune with the stars. Sometimes I shiver, not because of the cold, but as the racial violence, vitriol and mayhem continue, I seem to be able to identify with the saddest and shortest line in the Holy Bible: “Jesus wept!”
So, in moments such as those, I am grateful for the reminder I know she would give me now that she has raised her own two children. On some level, it’s all still a mystery. And where there is mystery, there is hope. We in the Biodesign class may not have found the answer to the question of why humans choose to hate rather than to love and focus so on our differences when we are all under the same stars in the Universe, but asking the question, exploring the mysteries, looking for truth, beauty and goodness always starts me on the path to peace and joy.
Excerpt: Biodesign Out For A Walk, Chap. 11, Matthew II
“Who can comprehend a submicroscopic, life-enabling molecule of information that can guide an ant or bee or elephant into making millions of yes/no, life/death decisions? Every one has its miracle story, none of which is humanly comprehensible.”
Although 2020 is officially the Chinese “Year Of The Rat,” in the Young homestead it has become the year of the bee. It began with a big spike in the Mason Bee population in our garden. Mason bees are mostly female who lead an almost totally solitary life with the only contact made while mating with males who typically die shortly thereafter. The males do not have a stinger, and the females will only sting if trapped or squeezed. This makes them an ideal neighbor for the home garden, since they pose little to no threat of stinging.
In many ways, honeybees are starkly different. They are highly social and a healthy colony may include 50,000 bees. They depend on each other and if bothered can be easily provoked. Giving up their lives, female “worker bees” can insert a stinger, usually attached to a venom sac, that injects venom into human skin. The sting is often painful and the effects of the venom can last for days.
None of the aforementioned information was of much importance before a tree-service crew arrived to fell one of our huge oak trees that was posing a threat to our neighbor’s property. The tree was safely lowered and it became my task to clean up the brush and saw the trunk and limbs into rounds. That’s when I discovered a honeybee hive hidden in the hollow of the tree.
While I consider myself a devout Naturalist, the prospect of being stung by 100s of angry bees was quite scary. I quickly invoked Charles Darwin (survival-of-the-fittest) and decided the hive had to be eliminated. When I shared this view with my wife Christie, she was shocked by the possibility of losing so many of her bee friends. Of course, I should have known that she would channel St. Francis of Assisi and her concern conjured up the words of one of the hymns that our family enjoyed singing in church:
“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all.”
“All Things Bright and Beautiful” is an Anglican hymn, also sung in many other Christian denominations. The words are by Cecil Frances Alexander and were first published in her Hymns for Little Children.
Having no idea what to do, I consulted a local apiarist for advice. She quickly discerned that, due to the size of the trunk, relocating the hive intact would not be feasible. She mentioned another option, but indicated it may take two weeks to remove the bees. Meanwhile, she was keenly concerned about the newly horizontal position of the hive and indicated that even one hot day could alter the structural integrity of the hive and possibly cause irreparable damage.
“Whatever you do,” she said, “ better do it at night to minimize risk to you and trauma to the bees.” Having no beekeeper equipment I had to improvise and prepare for an after-dark mission. My chainsaw would be needed to make crosscuts above and below the hive in order to return the trunk to the vertical position. Because of evening noise regulations I notified our neighbors and the local police about my pending soiree with the bees. The police dispatcher seemed amused with my request, probably because it had nothing to do with Covid-19.
A long-sleeved shirt and Levis would be covered by mechanic’s coveralls, wrapped with duct tape at the ankles. A rain parka with hood that could be cinched down tightly around my face that would be covered with a facemask. A hiker’s headlight was at the ready. Leather work gloves would hopefully protect my hands. Christie mused that I looked like medical personnel working in a Covid hospital. I double-checked the chainsaw and procured bubble-wrap to seal the entrance. I had never embarked on an operation like this and the fear of possible attack by a swarm of angry bees was palpable. As nightfall approached we both felt like we might lose our dinner.
Everything was in place and the bubble-wrap was quickly inserted. And then I was cursed by a double whammy of quotes: Whether Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” or Robert Burn’s; “The best laid plans of mice and men;” the chainsaw refused to start. However, after using a couple of farmhand expletives, the motor roared to life.
I made the first crosscut 18 in. below the hive opening and rolled the round out of the way. Then I quickly made the top cut, 18 in. above the opening. The hardest part was repositioning the 300 lb. stump into the vertical position. As I wrapped my arms around the stump section, the frenetic buzzing of thousands of angry bees resonated throughout my body. I tried not to think of what would become of me if they escaped their temporary prison and attacked the source of the alien noise and shocking vibrations.
The section of trunk was secured in the vertical position and I fled the scene. I had brought along a 15 ft. pole saw that I used to retrieve the bubble-wrap, and then quickly retreated to the safety of our home. Meanwhile, Christie was texting every stage of the drama with two of our daughters. All three were cheering me on from at least six feet away from the hive.
As I write this, life in the hive seems to be returning to normal. The bees are busy flying to and fro on their busy errands.
We hope that the hive did not sustain any permanent damage.
I would not describe the experience as “bee’s knees,” but an adrenaline-inducing event that was hopefully once-in-a-lifetime.
“A spiritual partnership is a partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth. Spiritual partners use their delightful experiences together as well as their power struggles to learn about themselves and change themselves.” – Gary Zukav
Excerpt: Biodesign Out For A Walk, Forward by Linda Williamson.
I now realize that one of the great lessons of Biodesign was learning how a strong marriage works. Christie was, and is, the strength behind the scenes; the wind beneath Lowell Young’s wings.
Linda Williamson is one of my most-admired colleagues who taught at St. Helena High School. As a consummate world traveler, she was keenly aware of the myriad of logistical challenges of moving a group of 40 people from St. Helena to Grand Canyon and back six days later. As a chaperone on one trip to The Canyon, she watched Christie dispatch the tasks with skill and grace.
However, Christie’s role in the Biodesign Program, was metaphorically wider and deeper than Grand Canyon. She is a bibliophile and eventually provided 20-30 books that became the physical—mental—spiritual fabric of what evolved into Biodesign.
One of our Goddaughters is astutely aware of this and dubbed her “The Book Whisperer.” The designation is a soulful sobriquet and bares witness to the fact that Christie has been my personal “Book Whisperer” for nearly 55 years and affirms Linda Williamson’s observation:
Christie was, and is, the strength behind the scenes; the wind beneath Lowell Young’s wings.
The photo was taken 5 years ago at our 50th wedding anniversary. It was celebrated at San Francisco’s, The Golden Mirror Restaurant, the same restaurant I proposed to Christie 56 years ago.
Three years earlier (1961) the Wedding Song was written by Noel Paul Stookey (Peter Paul & Mary) as a gift to be sung at the wedding of his pal and singing partner Peter Yarrow. The song has become legendary and been sung at countless 1000s of weddings.
Although the song was likely inspired by the Gospel of St. Matthew, the magical blend of lyrics and melody can create transcending moments for all who celebrate the mystery and sanctity of marriage.
Christie recently joined Facebook and can be contacted at https://www.facebook.com/christie.young.50702