Centering around his knowledge of the life of bees, Preston Pouteaux’s new book The Bees of Rainbow Falls is an invitation to look at the world and our place in it with fresh eyes. This may seem like a leap: from the, seemingly, small life of the bee to this great big world of ours, but Preston weaves together a narrative that is at once educational, personal, challenging, and inspiring. And it all begins with the way we see.
From the introduction where Preston writes of the lush grass of his childhood and how his imagination was piqued to see beyond the blades to what lies beneath, from who he was to who he could be, from the beginning with God in the garden to what God is doing in the world through our neighbourhoods today, the reader is invited to experience and participate in a journey of imagination. “When God brought me into the garden apiary, he was doing what love has always done — God was opening the window of my imagination to catch the fresh cool wind of the world that God was creating before me” (15).
Part one of the book looks at bees and how their lives and the practice of beekeeping has drawn Preston into a better understanding of neighbourhood (person and community). This is not a perspective unique to Preston. Throughout history the bee and its work has offered analogy and insight into who we are as people and how neighbourhoods and places can be reshaped and reimagined.
There is much in the bee that we can see in us. Preston unfolds this powerfully in his discussion of keystone species whose work is often unnoticed but is necessary and vital; in the love and delight that is found when our identity is rooted in God’s perspective; in allowing God’s work to be seen in the complicated intricacies of life — both hive and human; in recognizing God’s hope and promise (“the land of milk and honey”) all around us; how small, unseen actions can be transformational and redemptive; and finally, the practical risks that need to be taken to change an environment in hopes that it will thrive. The reader is left with questions to examine his or her own life: What about my life? Is it impactful and life-giving? Am I seeing all there is to be seen in my neighbourhood?
Not leaving these questions unanswered, the second part of the book explores the themes Preston has discovered in this bee-keeping neighbourhood journey, offering in-depth and practical discussions of: beauty (which reawakens our senses), awe (renewing imagination), security (looking at what real safety is), boring (examining the rhythms of life), taste of place (recognizing uniqueness), and curates (opportunities for care and creation). Some of these themes are obvious, while some of the concepts are unexpected. Yet, Preston’s examination allows each theme to be both universally applicable and uniquely personal, leaving the reader both challenged and encouraged and with the tools to dig into each theme in their own life.
Ultimately, The Bees of Rainbow Falls is much more than a book about some neighbourhood bees. The book offers the reader an opportunity to sit, learn, and reflect on the small, unseen aspects of life, along with an invitation to see how much more there is when we open our hearts and our minds to the intricate, amazing beauty unfolding in the people and neighbourhoods we encounter every day. The Bees of Rainbow Falls is a fresh and enlightening look at the impact of small things and offers the reader the tools for a more intentional, meaningful posture in the world: to make the invisible visible and reorient daily life to see and live the grace and goodness God is manifesting all around.