September 27, 2006
When I was a little kid, I would sometimes sit on the lawn on a lazy summer afternoon, making chains out of dandelions or looking for four-leaf clovers. And from that low vantage point, I would notice butterflies, skimming just above the grasses. My mother had warned me not to try to catch a butterfly – she said that my fingers would damage the wings – so I always just watched carefully until the butterfly was out of my sight.
As I grew older and taller, I stopped noticing butterflies. I think I was always moving too fast, or looking at bigger elements of the landscape. Until I met Artist Friend. When I take a walk with him, he always points out things that I wouldn't notice – an unusual fern, perhaps. And often, he points to butterflies. "Nice swallowtail," he'll say. And he'll pause to watch where the butterfly goes, his whole attention focused on those delicate wings.
Last weekend, while I was walking through the orchard at the monastery, I noticed a beautiful monarch butterfly flitting around the banks of wildflowers. I sat on the grass for a while and watched the butterfly, thinking about Artist Friend and taking the time to sort through all kings of things in my life. I took a photo for my blog friends because I figured I might have deep and profound things to say about this butterfly. After all, the butterfly figures prominently in the mythology of many cultures, sometimes as the messenger between heaven and earth, sometimes as the symbol of rebirth and regeneration. It seemed that the presence of this butterfly, which danced and flew and kept folding and unfolding its wings, might have some deep spiritual significance.
So I planned to write a post about butterflies today. I woke up at 6:30 am to spend time with my two youngest as they got ready for school. Then I hurried to campus, taught my first class, answered a bunch of emails, graded maybe one paper, talked to a colleague who needed advice, taught my second class, talked to a student, wrote several emails, ate half a bagel, taught my third class, met with an advisee, talked to another colleague, went to a long but productive meeting with an administrator, graded a few papers, ate the other half of my bagel, wrote an abstract, met with my 5 pm seminar class, raced home in time to join my husband for Meet-the-Teacher Night at Shaggy Hair's school, talked to Boy in Black, who had stopped home after his Wednesday drum lesson, read to my youngest child, helped my husband put away the groceries he had run out to get after we realized we had no bread for school lunches ... and then sat down after 10 pm to finally eat something substantial and write a profound post about the butterfly at the monastery.
But really, the only profound thought going through my head is this: I can't believe that just a few days ago I had time to sit quietly in an orchard and do nothing but watch a butterfly.
Posted by jo(e)