Yesterday afternoon, I took off my shoes and went for a walk in the field. I circled “the lupine patch” in the middle of our backyard. We mow around this jumble of wild field every year, leaving a circular oasis of weedy pastureland that becomes a safe bedroom for deer and turkeys and a bountiful pantry for birds, bees, and butterflies.
Approaching the lupine patch, I noticed a monarch chrysalis. Finally! I have seen a lot of monarch butterflies this summer but very few caterpillars and no chrysalises. Here was a dazzling green chrysalis with gold flecks hanging from a tall stem of grass. As I stepped in to look more closely, I noticed another and another and another. Two had already been vacated: they were transparent hollow shells. Another was dark, so close to emergence that the wings of the butterfly inside were visible. My son called from the other side of the patch, “I think I see a butterfly that just came out.” As I looked up, a butterfly took flight. He explained, “I think we saw his first flight. He was standing right next to that empty chrysalis drying his wings when I first saw him.”
As I watched the butterfly fly off, something lifted in me. Continuing to walk around the circle and noticing more chrysalises at various stages, I thought about strength and resilience. Just a few years ago, we had worried that the population of monarchs was declining. I am not sure about the worldwide population of monarchs but, here in my backyard, they are healthy and plentiful. I thought about transitions and transformation and the human capacity for change. If humans are caterpillars, how many of us are busy eating, only paying attention to the bite of leaf in front of us? How many of us are stuck, as if in chrysalis form, ready to burst and join others who are already aloft with wings of compassion and care? How many individuals need to transform before a great migration, a great shift in consciousness, can occur? If humans were monarchs, where do I fit in this process?
When I began to walk around the lupine patch, I had been sad for days, carrying a grief that I couldn’t name or understand. I didn’t feel compelled to pinpoint my grief either. After all, loss feels ubiquitous these days. The web of life has been stretched and stressed until the planet and all of its inhabitants are suffering. I did not need to explore in practical detail the myriad ways in which loss of life, dignity, potential, etc…are reflected in my own feelings of lost safety, hope, and courage. I had been just allowing myself to feel this sadness – noticing its heaviness and vagueness. I trusted that the grief had work to do in me and that it would lift when I was ready.
Apparently, I was ready when I remembered to reconnect with the living earth around me. With the resilient earth beneath my feet, my imagination took flight with the butterflies and I remembered. I remembered that we are all One. I remembered that the magnificent capacity for change and healing that I witness in the Earth also exists within each one of us. I remembered that I am a co-creator of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I remembered to choose transformation.