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Bumblebee Thinking
Betty Price

Based on the size of its body and the span of its wings, it is aeronautically impossible for the bumble bee to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that, so it goes ahead and flies anyway!

For three years, I enjoyed ringing in my church’s handbell choir before attending a Handbell Festival in San Francisco where I saw solo ringing for the first time. I was mesmerized by a young lady’s performance. It was this experience that exposed my mind to “thinking like a bumblebee.” Being in my 20’s at that time, I told myself, “If a 16-year-old can do that, so can I.” Of course, with no training and only the memory of what I had observed, those early sessions were truly pathetic. Over time, I was able to develop a small repertoire of music, poems and stories, and I was able to borrow the church’s handbells to perform in local nursing homes.

A few years later, I had to move to a community that had no handbells! A couple from my church had witnessed a handbell choir and was so moved and inspired by the music, they decided to buy a 3-octave set as a memorial for their daughter. Except for this couple and myself, no one else in the entire community had ever seen or heard a handbell! The pastor was aware that I had played in a handbell choir, so he appointed me the director and made it very clear that declining was not an option! With no formal music training, I felt abysmally inadequate, but decided to put forth my best effort. It was certainly necessary to put on my “bumblebee hat” for this task. To my amazement and delight, a motivated and enthusiastic group of ringers was able to play during a church service within a few weeks. That created enough interest that a Novice choir and Youth choir were also formed and the groups were able to present a Christmas concert in their very first year.

My passion for sharing music in nursing homes was rekindled, but hauling the handbells by myself was not easy. Nearly ready to set aside my “nursing home ministry,” I received a birthday certificate to purchase my own 1½ octaves of handbells. However, I had just been introduced to handchimes and was intrigued. As far as I knew, there had been no attempts to solo with them. But... they were lightweight, compact, and I could purchase 3 octaves of handchimes for the price of 1 ½ octaves of handbells... I made the decision to think like a bumblebee and use my certificate for handchimes! Realizing live accompaniment was not possible in the places I was performing, the organist at my church, having a true appreciation for the way I was sharing the music, offered to make fully orchestrated cassette recordings of my repertoire. With his help, quality accompaniment became a reality. What a joy it was to have such enhancement for the handchime music!

The initial desire to bring music to nursing homes soon blossomed into opportunities to share my music nationally and even internationally! But tripping over the family dog brought things to a sudden halt just as I was beginning to feel as though I was ready to soar. My doctor explained with great sorrow that my wrist had been fractured into more than 100 pieces and that I would not be able to play chimes or bells again. With tears welling up, I looked into his eyes with determination and stated, “God and I have a different plan!” It took many grueling hours of intense therapy to regain enough mobility to even pick up a handchime, but within six months I began practicing. Soon I was back to providing programs in local nursing homes! Less than a year later, my schedule included at least one performance weekly in a wide variety of venues.

Perhaps you have encountered some seemingly insurmountable challenges in your life. You can choose to simply react and accept defeat – OR– rise above your circumstances to wondrous accomplishments. Possibilities are limitless. How can YOU think like a bumblebee?