Tattered Wings

I recall a summer like this circa 1985 or so. High temperatures everyday. No rain, no summer breeze. Just hot, sticky.
Back then I was one of the owners of Odd’s Bodkin, a Jean store and video rental outlet. Everyday after work, we could hardly wait to lock up for the day and head out to White Sand to swim and a barbecue supper. There were four of us, my first husband, myself and my employee and friend Bev and her husband Ernie. Oooh forgot, my Collie Nikko too.
I was at a different swimming hole two weeks ago and remembering those days. Of the five of us only Bev and I are alive today and of course Nikko is long gone. Since then, many more people are gone. While I sat looking across Hays Lake at a forest fire choked sky, felt the oppressive heat, I missed the simpler times of my youth.
I thought about all the ugliness in our western culture of today- the violence, divisiveness, polarization, the us vs them mentality, and felt more oppressed. As these disconsolate thoughts kept sneaking into my mind, I felt older, and worn out, exhausted. Thoughts like “What’s the use? Why bother with God, and prayer, morals, all that stuff – ‘doesn’t do any good,” crushed my spirit down further. A great sense of futility and uselessness engulfed me. Hot tears stung the corner of my eyes. I brushed them angrily away. I still struggle with the ingrained tapes of my youth “Never let them see you cry.”
I was sitting on a piece of driftwood drying off after my swim. Emma and Brandy my sister’s Jack Russell Terrier were swimming. Brandy was barking nonstop as my sister Sharon threw countless rocks for Brandy and wrestled sticks from Emma to swim for. The three of them were having a grand time – not a care in the world. An example of living in the moment.
Amidst this happiness, there I was grabbing at memories of a nostalgic past, while wishing for the present ills to go away, and dreading a bleak future for a Canadian of my culture and age. Immersed in an overwhelming sense that everything I do and believe in is a phenomenal waste of time. As I began to try to get back into the moment a movement caught my eye.
Beside my log was a lovely Morning Cloak Butterfly clinging to the gravelly soil. He was beside my hand and not flying away.
I didn’t touch him, but I could see how the blue/white edges of his wings were frayed and tattered. He was waiting to die. In my soul I felt like that butterfly, frayed around the edges. Getting old and worn out, dying.
Suddenly, I realized I still had a lot of life and fight left in me. I watched the butterfly and felt a surge of renewed energy and hope flow into me. The gloom vanished as the sun melts the morning mist. I felt such love and gratitude to God, for giving me a heads up via a butterfly.
Butterflies are I imagine, the most beloved and written about insect. So beautifully fragile, yet strong and resilient. I watched gusts of wind trying to tear that Morning Cloak off his final perch. He was flattened on his side, buffeted with cross currents of hot air, like blasts out of hell trying to take him. Nonplussed, he hung on and waited for the inevitable. I drew so much from those moments of observation; by the grace of God that butterfly gave me a needed reminder and reinforcement of what this life is all about.
I had allowed myself to listen to thoughts like buzzing angry hornets, unwelcome invaders chewing at my serenity and peace of mind. Those thoughts were not even mine, they were words of others, news bites I had, negative influences of the world, angry echoes of the past, present and future. It took a dying butterfly to drive the swarms out.
I recall at the worst times of my life friends telling me that I was so strong. I tried to tell them that it wasn’t me at all, that I was dying inside, gasping for survival in my very soul…..that it’s not me who is strong at all. Though my spine and body were holding me up before them, I was going through the motions of living physically, but inside…… tattered, worn, dying just like that butterfly.
The butterfly is dead. I envision him in heaven alighting on the hand of St. Paul (one of the first people I want to meet in heaven). I see the smile of St. Paul as the butterfly flexes his new beautiful perfect wings….and I must quote for you all what keeps me standing and living with joy, instead of succumbing to the misery of events past, present and future… “but he said to me. ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness..” 2 Cor.12: 9
They say Butterflies are free but there is no greater freedom than to live like they do, in the moment, by the grace of God, open always to the guidance of the Creator, doing no harm. It is hard to live free in a fallen world, but try we must with a will, or fall by the wayside.

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