week I defer to my predecessor, the late Rev. Ben D. Dunagan, who was
the author of this column prior to my coming to Holly Springs. He told
a story that all our Pilgrimage guests will enjoy.
By Rev. Ben D. Dunagan
I write I am looking out at 10 inches of white snow in our back yard,
made even more beautiful by dozens of cardinals, snowbirds, chickadees,
verios, purple finches, tufted titmice, and other varieties of birds.
We are putting out pounds of small black sunflower seeds and fighting
the blackbirds. It is a good day to be retired.
I will reflect upon only one unusual experience during my eight happy years at First Presbyterian.
members will recall that for many decades swarms of honey bees somehow
would infiltrate the sanctuary walls on the Gholson Avenue side every
spring. One year a beekeeper from Red Banks captured three huge swarms
without suffering a single sting. Sometimes, honey would run down the
inside walls, especially near window sills.
However, the bees did not get inside the sanctuary and nobody was stung.
on Pilgrimage Sunday about five years ago, the worship service was
proceeding with a busload of about 30 “Yanks” among our visitors.
Not until I was several minutes into the sermon did I begin to sense that things were not 100 percent ‘copasetic.’
The first signal was that many eyes, normally focused on the pulpit, were directed toward the south wall.
Most of our visitors were seated in a group on that south side of the pews.
I perceived that those eyes were becoming distinctly fearful and
anxious. About that time I became aware of a steady humming noise, like
you sometimes get with a defective sound system. I then followed these
gazes, and on the inside sill in the southwest corner was a mass of
bees larger than a football.
I interrupted the sermon. In the
calmest voice I could muster, I advised the entire congregation of the
existing situation. Then, addressing myself to our pilgrims from the
north, I assured them that these were not only Southern bees, noted for
their hospitality, but indeed were Presbyterian bees, and so they had
nothing to worry about.
During the rest of the service I
witnessed a physical phenomenon that I would have previously considered
impossible. Without moving their heads, their left eyes continued to
watch the bees, while they watched me with their right eyes.
sure hope none of their eyes got permanently stuck in those positions!
I presume they continued to hear the buzz in their left ears and
hopefully heard the sermon from the right side.
During 30 years I never saw a sanctuary empty as quickly after the benediction.