Keystone People


This week I’ve been reading a great book by Preston Pouteaux, called, The Bees of Rainbow Falls: Finding Faith, Imagination, and Delight in Your Neighbourhood. Part of the reason that it’s great is that Preston is full of energy and insight and writes beautifully.

But it’s also striking a nerve in my soul (if that makes sense…). Through the lens of a beekeeper—which is just one of the cool things that Preston is—the book invites readers to the kind of deep engagement with the world around us that I, and I believe most of us, are craving.

I live in a place that is highly transient. A university campus is the kind of place that most people come in order to get somewhere else. For most students, at any rate, the point is to be here for a season and then move on to the next thing. And even though lots of people live here full-time, and for many years, I feel like that transient reality hangs heavy on the place. It’s been hard to build relationships outside of things I’m directly involved in (like my church, or life at the Vancouver School of Theology), and even harder to establish deep community roots.

Even so, I and my family believe that we’re called to be here, that God has work and purpose for us here. And this book has reignited my excitement about that. Mostly, it occurs to me, it may not be the place but my perspective that’s the problem.

I’m particularly delighted and challenged by a chapter about “keystone people”. Preston reflects on those necessary people who may not be the movers and shakers in the world, but who, through diligent and patient love, do the stuff that makes a neighbourhood hold together. The keystone is not the biggest piece of an arch, but without it the whole thing collapses. The point is not that any of us are indispensable, or responsible for holding everything together. But are we doing the little things that can help sustain, nourish, and even create flourishing community? Are we doing the unglamorous, bee-like work necessary for something beautiful?


Preston writes: “Am I a keystone person? This question is, in many ways, the foundation of this book. I questioned the impact of my life and faith as I watched those bees come and go from their hive. Was I merely working for my own benefit? I could say that I was working for the wellbeing of my closest friends and family, but was I truly tending to the betterment of my whole city in a lasting way? My experience at the beehive raised this very important question. Was I postured in such a way to bring life to the world around me, and what would need to change in my own imagination to become that kind of person?”

I want to be postured to bring life to the world around me. I want a fresh imagination for what that looks like in this time and place. So that’s what I’m praying for this morning.

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