Friday, November 2, 2012

A Post Script: The Story of the Butterfly

“A God Wink is … a message of reassurance coming when you most need it: when you’re at a crossroads in your life, and when instability is all around. It might be said, in fact, that coincidences are the best way for God to establish a perpetual presence in your life”.  SQuire Rushnell

Looking back, my life has been full of God Winks.  A chance encounter here, a move there, staying home versus going out.  In thirty-six short years, I have seen how my life is beautifully intertwined with others here on this earth.  The latest God Wink I have experienced has been a decade and a year in the making. 

The prologue is my post, The Story of the Butterfly, the rest is what has happened since my father passed away, less than three months ago. 

The two weeks I was home after my dad passed away, I longed to see a Monarch. I searched for them, but I didn’t see one; that is, until the last day before I left for Arizona. The afternoon before I flew home, my mom and I drove out to the cemetery to visit my dad. 

We spent about an hour walking around, talking, and finding family and friends we love who were also buried there. We talked, laughed, and wondered about the fates of those we did not know. The time finally arrived when we had seen every grave and honored those whom we loved and those we did not.  We made our way back to the car, buckled up and set off on our new journey-as a family without our patriarch. 

I happened to glance down, probably to take off my shoes (those of you who know me understand that's the first thing I do when I get into a car), but I was alerted to look outside by my mom saying, as she drove the car out of the cemetery, “Look Sarah! There’s a butterfly!”
Sure enough, there was a Monarch butterfly that flew right past our front windshield. We drove home that afternoon, traveling the same path that we had traveled to lay my father to rest, albeit with a bit of peace in our hearts this time around.  I absolutely believe that God's angels sent that beautiful creature to us to remind us that He is watching over us during our times of joy, but also during our times of need.
Later that night, I sat in my dad’s chair a gazed at the garden of bird feeders he had erected.  I  watched a Monarch flutter back and forth past the picture window he loved to look out. I got the message loud and clear; my dad would never leave me.
The next morning, I flew home to Phoenix.  I honestly did not expect to see another butterfly this season, but as fate would have it, I have seen more this year than I ever had before. 

Since coming home, there have been a few times that I’ve seen a Monarch just when I needed it most. The first time it happened was a normal Sunday afternoon.  Tate and I were driving home from getting groceries in Doug's truck.  Normally, I would take my car, but on this occasion, we had just come home from church and it was easier to drive the vehicle we were in.  I turned the corner to my home when all of a sudden, a song struck a chord in my heart.  I was listening to E Street Radio, and although, I love Springsteen, there are a few songs I am not that familiar with.  I'm not sure at what point I realized the words of the song, but I looked down and saw that the title of the song was, My Father’s House. As tears filled my eyes, I glanced up, and right there, flying past the windshield of the car was a Monarch. 
A few weekends ago, our family went for an early morning walk.  As we turned the corner to the park, Doug said, "Sarah!  Look at this!"  When I glanced down, there it was, a Monarch.  Sitting.  Waiting.  Peaceful.  Just for me.  I was enthralled.  I placed my hand on the ground and it allowed me to cradle it in my palm.  It fluttered its wings, laid still, and repeated the entire scenario.  I was even fortunate enough to take pictures.  I realized that even on insignificant days, the most amazing things can happen. 

This past weekend, Doug and I were at a wedding and the reception was held outside. We were talking to the father-of-the-bride’s mother. She has lost her parents and husband. I was talking about my dad and how hard it is to lose someone you love so much. Almost instantly, after I finished talking about him, there it was, a Monarch. It fluttered right past us. It stayed just long enough to warm my soul and fill me with love. We did not see another one all afternoon.

And, back home, "butterfly things" were happening, too.  Every year, my father's high school has a ceremony to pay tribute to those who have died.  Families have a chance to purchase a brick with their loved ones name engraved on it.  My mom heard about this and absolutely wanted to participate.  About a week before the ceremony, my mom found out that during the ceremony there would be a Monarch butterfly release.  She called me to share the news and my jaw literally dropped. I was speechless.  Certainly this was not a coincidence.

And then, one of the biggest God Winks of my life happened on Halloween.  That evening, I met Gail;it was a very chance encounter to say the least.  My sons had already trick-or-treated at her home, and I was a bit behind them, but I happened to see a sign that read, something like, "Monarch Butterfly Habitat".  Of course, I had to know more!
It turns out, Gail Morris, the owner of the home, is a conservationist.  Her passion is bringing back the Monarch population in the Southwest.  She does amazing work and I admire her.  Now, I'm sure she was a bit confused as I rang her doorbell and told her that I saw her sign and I needed to know more.  She was more than accommodating.  She answered my questions and gave me her name.  She told me to google a few key words when I got home because there was an article in the newspaper she wanted me to read.  I left with a feeling of enormous love in my heart and a desire to know more.
So, we came home, my family and I. One of the first things I did was get on the computer find the article Gail was referring to.  As fate has it, she is one of the most important Monarch butterfly conservationists in Phoenix.  I was so amazed I had trouble sleeping.  Little did she know that my friend, Jane, had sent me her article the day before.  I didn't put two and two together until I got home. I had already read about her work and, of course, I was intrigued! 
I called Gail the day after our meeting and she was just as wonderful as I remembered.  She invited Tate and I over to learn how to tag butterflies.  She is starting some milkweed plants for me to grow in my yard so I too can enjoy a backyard full of orange fluttering wings.

Gail emailed me today.  Attached to the email, she sent me a link to her latest blog entry.  She told me that the Mexican, Day of the Dead, coincides with the arrival of the Monarchs migration to Mexico.  In some Mexican cultures, the people believe that each butterfly holds the soul of someone who has passed away.  She also blogged about our chance meeting.  The following is the link to her blog:
I believe that God winks in many ways.  Little did I know the significance of one thought, eleven years ago, on that fall night in Iowa, when my family became butterfly harvesters that something amazing would fill our lives for many, many years to come.  The night the butterflies came to town. 


1 comment:

  1. Crying tears of happiness into my coffee mug-thanks for sharing your wonderful stories. I feel blessed to read them!