It was a sunny early May morning, and the Rev. Simon Abernathy was the happiest he’d been for a while.
Spring was well underway, and the world hadn’t ended as previously predicted by the Pope.
He sat on a bench and quietly observed the medicinal plants in the Physic garden of St Jericho’s, the Monastery in Sussex, where he was currently on retreat.
“Wonderful weather we’re having.” Katherine Brown, the vicar of St John’s nearby who was sitting next to Simon, said.
“Indeed. I was expecting rain all weekend, but clearly God has blessed us on the Sabbath.” Simon said.
“He certainly has.” Katherine said, observing the bees in front of her.
“Is this your first retreat?” Katherine later asked.
“It is, yes.” Simon said. “I usually go to Lindisfarne, but I came here for a change.”
“Oh, I love Lindisfarne. Very peaceful.” Katherine said. “But it is just as peaceful here, I would have said.”
“I’d agree with you there.” Simon said.
The two priests sat in solitude for a moment.
“I suppose you are glad you had your election last year.” Katherine said.
“Indeed. I’d blissfully forgotten about that incident last year.” Simon said.
“Sorry to have reminded you, then.” Katherine said.
“It’s fine. It was a year ago. I’ve since moved on.” Simon said.
“Good to know.” Katherine said.
“Besides, things are looking up for the progressive parties.” Simon said.
“Indeed.” Katherine said. “But best not mention it to John. He’s still bitter.”
“Bit of a Tory, is he?” Simon said.
“Yes. He’s been a well-known hardliner for years. It was hard to get things done with him, but we get by.” Katherine said.
“Ok,” Simon said.
“How are things in your parish, besides whatever happened last year?” Katherine asked.
“Pretty good. We’re well on our way to bouncing back after COVID.” Simon said.
“Excellent. We are as well.” Katherine said.
“My congregation is having something different while I’m away,” Simon said.
“Really? What?” Katherine said.
“I’m being covered by Castor Sanderson, a former pastor at the Westboro Baptist Church.” Simon said.
Katherine looked at Simon, confused.
“The Westboro Baptist Church? But I thought your congregation was liberal and inclusive?” Katherine said.
“We are. But he was available and keen, so Dave thought it might be interesting to hear from someone with opposing views. Apparently Castor has always wanted to preach in an English village church.”
“Hmm. Interesting.” Katherine said.
“To be honest, I wish I was in Lower Strangling now, listening to him.” Simon said.
“I do as well.” Katherine said. “But also, I’m glad I’m here.”
“So am I.” Simon said.
With that, the two priests continued to admire their surroundings.
Just then, a group of other priests walked in front of them, clearly interested in something up ahead.
“Ok, something interesting just happened.” Simon said.
“Yes. I wonder what.” Katherine said.
Simon and Katherine walked up to the group to see what was happening.
“What’s going on here?” Simon said.
“Apparently, there’s a swarm of bees that have gathered on a tree in the garden.” James Wilson, the vicar of St John’s in Little Guild haven, said.
“We’re going to have a look at them,” Derek Walcott, the vicar of St Giles’ in Fox Chester, said.
“You can come too if you’d like,” Rebecca Hampshire, the vicar of St Mary’s in Oxwich, said.
Katherine and Simon pondered for a moment, then agreed to have a look at the bees’ nest.
And so the vicars walked together into a group and looked in awe at the group of bees that had formed a nest in a nearby tree.