Sunday, January 11, 2015

God Winks: An Incredible Story of Family, Time, Butterflies and Angel Trumpets

It's truly incredible to witness and understand exactly how specific God Winks fold out over time.  Once my eyes were opened and my spirit attuned to the beautiful synchronized world God has created for us, it is marvelous.  I believe that in life there are not coincidences, but rather, winks from God, coming at just the right moment; letting us know that we are never alone and his plan for us is a magnificent one.

Picture the scene: 1959, rural Iowa, a boy and his little sister in a flower patch at dusk.  But, not just an ordinary flower patch, this one was special, this one was the angel trumpet patch in their grandparents' yard.  The children you see here, are my father and his little sister.  The first two characters to come into play in this God Wink.  More will be added later, but without these two and this picture, the rest of the story may have gone unnoticed.

Pam and LeRoy in the angel trumpet patch, September 1959.
Fast forward to forty-two years to another September day in Iowa.  September 1, 2001, the day those children lost their father. On the night of my Papa Dale's visitation, an idea formed--an idea that soon flourished and added the next chapter in our decades long God Wink.  My aunt happened to live on a farm that was in the direct migration route of the monarch butterflies.  As we gathered up our grief, my aunt, cousins, brothers, and I tiptoed into the night and gently gathered up hundreds of those winged beauties.  We placed them in huge plastic containers and waited for the dusk to turn to dawn and the breath of a fall day to kiss our cheek, because that would be the time. 

As we neared the end of my grandpa's graveside service, the butterflies were let go and with a flourish, our prayers were sent up to heaven on the wings of those angels.  It was moving.  It was poignant.  It was a moment that changed our lives. From that moment on, I don't think any of us looked at a monarch butterfly the same way.  Each time we saw one, we always remarked that Papa Dale was coming for a visit.

And from there, life happened.  For a time, each of us was focused on our own lives and where we were headed: college. career, marriage, children. That is, until, it was time to send another one home. 
Fall again, not September this time, but close enough, August 6, 2012, the day my father got his wings. Having lost three grandparents and many friends, I thought I had a handle on grief.  I thought I understood the kind of emotions that were about to happen.  As that monarch butterfly that had been visiting my dad the day he passed, flew by one last time, I realized with a shock that I had absolutely no idea the kinds of emotions that were about to be thrust upon me.  To lose people you love is difficult; to lose a parent is devastating. 
Those two weeks spent in Iowa were healing.  I tried desperately to absorb every moment there; chronicling much of it on this blog.  As I released a little bit of the pain with every blog post, I had my eyes open for the slightest movement.  I was on the lookout; I needed a monarch.  
And, that last day there I got two.  The first flew right in front our my mother's windshield at the cemetery we buried my father in.  The other flew back and forth, back and forth, outside of the picture window my dad loved to look out.  I was comforted.  I felt an embrace of love from beyond.  I was rewarded a vision of what I desperately needed to see.

That's when things got interesting!  That fall, the butterfly winks began to rain down from heaven.  A welcome reprieve from the happiness drought I was in. I met my neighbor, Gail, and my life changed. I love our story, if you'd like, you can read it here.

And then more time passed.  A little over two years.  During that time, my family was grappling not only with the loss of my dad, but also with my son's diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome.  Within four months of Trek's diagnosis, we lost my dad, and then just a few months later, we suddenly lost my aunt.  It was as if life decided to destroy everything that anchored us.  We were forced to rebuild and it was hell. We were thrust into the fires and there were many times I was certain it would consume me.

During this time, I had very little contact with Gail.  We would text once in a while and occasionally I would stop outside of her house and watch the butterflies flutter around.  The problem with being forced to rebuild your life is that it doesn't leave you much time for anything else.  I still am bewildered that we marched through those first few years, but we did, and, how cliché, we are stronger, better people now than we were then.

This past December, my son Tate and I went for a walk.  On a whim, I decided to walk past Gail's house.  We stopped outside and I was showing Tate her Monarch Butterfly Way Station post, when Gail's husband, Bob came over and started talking to us.  The next thing I knew, Gail was outside and was offering a monarch chrysalis for us to take care of.   Such a small gesture, but it literally left me in tears.  I was over the moon and so excited that she would trust me with such a treasure. 

I could not get enough of our chrysalis.  The metamorphosis of the butterfly is amazing.  I watched it every day.  I took pictures.  I posted pictures on Facebook.  To be in the presence of a miracle was almost too much excitement for me to contain!

Around this time, I received an unexpected package in the mail from my Aunt Pam.  She had sent me that picture of her and my dad in the angel trumpet patch and also seeds from that very same plant, so I could have my own flowers if I wanted to.  So often, it's the smallest gestures of kindness that take your breath away.  Immediately, the picture of her and my dad found a permanent home in my kitchen where I see it every day.  

Once our monarch eclosed, I took it back to Gail's house to set it free.  I have to admit, it broke my heart a little bit to let it go.  Once I got to her house, God Winked again; this time, fifty-five years from the moment he set it in place.  The miracle we were able to watch unfold, the miracle of the monarch butterfly, the biggest reminder my family has of  my grandfather and father, had found its home; fittingly on an angel's trumpet.

A piece of God's puzzle, put in place, December 2014.

God's winks ...
Squire Rushnell: God Winks