In honour of National Biodiversity Week, the cathedral hosted a workshop last Saturday, 14 May on the theme of Nature and Healing. Led by Nessa Darcy, the workshop was attended by members of the cathedral congregation and from the wider community. We were also delighted to have time with local beekeeper for the Bee8 project in Dublin 8, Anthony O’Brien.
The workshop began indoors, with an opportunity to look at a selection of photos of insects and plants and to reflect on how we perceive with and interact with nature. The common attitude of apprehension at the sight of ‘creepy crawlies’ opened up discussion of the benefits of many insect species, and even ways in which certain species of insects are adapted to exist in symbiotic relationships. The workshop was geared towards creative reflection and exploration, so before heading outside, the group learned a simple chant, ‘Ama Ibuo Iye’, from the Bambuti people of the Ituri Forest in Democratic Republic of Congo. Sung in a round the words of chant create the sounds of birds and other wildlife of the rainforest as a call to gather the community. Then it was outdoors to explore the diversity of plants and insect life to be found within the cathedral grounds. When actually taking the time to slow down and deliberately notice, there was abundant material to capture the attention: a wide variety of flowers in bloom or just budding, bees collecting pollen, tiny aphids and spiders, and small snails with perfectly formed shells. The outdoor time concluded with a talk from Beekeeper Anthony about the Bee8 project and a chance to look inside the been hive on our grounds
The workshop topic of Nature and Healing was especially significant, as the beehive in the cathedral grounds was recently subject to an act of vandalism. Staff opened the cathedral grounds one morning last week to find that someone had made their way into the grounds the previous night and had overturned the beehive, which is located in an enclosed area of the cathedral grounds. Beekeeper Anthony came in the morning to inspect the damage and we were all greatly saddened to learn that our hive, which had been reproducing and growing well throughout the spring, had very few remaining bees and the queen was no longer present. The awareness of this incident meant that the workshop included moments of delight and discovery when time was taken to deliberately slow down and notice nature on a small scale, contrasted with sadness at the results of human-inflicted destruction as evidenced in the vandalism of the bee hive.
Dr Margaret Daly Denton, a member of the cathedral community and a participant in last week’s workshop, shared this reflection showing the depth of connection between awareness of and care for creation, and a sense of spiritual meaning:
‘The beehive in the Cathedral grounds is a small but eloquent way in which our church is responding to God’s love for the whole creation by helping the bees to recover from the loss of habitat and biodiversity that has become a threat to their very existence. Jesus has shown us the full extent of God’s love for the world. We hope that when people listen out for the buzz of our church’s beehive they will hear an echo of that love.’
This video shares some photos from the day as well our ‘amateur choir’ rendition of the chant ‘Ama Ibuo Iye’.