The beekeeper was always talking. He sounded as if he had as much to say as his bees in apple blossom season. But all he talked about was what he was doing:
Now I’m moving this hive over just a bit. There. Now I’m walking to the clover field to see what we have this year.
He went on like this all day long, day after day, while the bees went buzzing about their business as if he didn’t exist.
One day a blind pastor was walking through the country hoping to hear a voice from heaven. When he walked past the beekeeper’s place, he heard a strange voice over the buzzing of the bees.
The blind pastor stopped to listen more carefully. The sound of the bees was like the golden pillars of heaven in his mind, and the voice of the beekeeper was like the Lord Himself descending from heaven.
I am listening, said the blind pastor. Now he heard the voice of the beekeeper again, saying, I am going to wipe the sweat from my forehead. There.
The blind pastor trembled, fearing that he was a cause for the Lord’s perspiring. Falling to his knees, he said, Have I been such a labor to Thee, Lord?
My nose itches, said the beekeeper. I’m going to move my wrist slowly up to it and rub it a bit. There.
Now the blind pastor feared that he was an offensive odor to the sensitive nostrils of the Lord.
Does my earthly body offend Thee, Lord?
Just then the beekeeper heard the blind pastor and turned to see who it was. The sight of the blind pastor kneeling along the road with his hands stretched toward the sky was so strange that the beekeeper stopped talking for the first time in many days.
With that, several bees came down on him and stung him, since this beekeeper never wore any netting to protect himself. The beekeeper screamed and swore in pain, then ran as fast as he could to find some mud before the swelling began.
The blind pastor, hearing the ungodly commotion, sprang to his feet, vowing never to wander through the country again. He started walking slowly back toward town, where every Sunday he preached two sermons.
The beekeeper resolved to mend his ways also and never to stop talking in the presence of his bees again, no matter how great the distraction.
The bees went on buzzing in their usual way, since, for them, this was a very busy time of the year. ▼
From Zero No. 1 of Rinzai-ji, Inc, 1978. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
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