I think, at some point, my friends and family will stop talking to me altogether. They’ll get annoyed, become guarded, and watch what they say around me. Neither of us knows which conversation or offhanded remark will inspire one of these posts. It’s a crapshoot, but here we go again. You’ve gone done and did it. You inspired me.
Well done, you.
Your wit, charm, and intelligence got me thinking. Once I start thinking, I start asking silly questions and those become worms that work their way through my brain. It tickles, throbs mildly, and becomes quite irritating. The only way to relieve the pressure is to release those suckers into the wild.
So, here we are, once again. I’m opening the hatch and letting this particular worm roam free. If that’s a disgusting image, how about we wrap that sucker in a cocoon and let it gestate for a bit? With time and no small about of imagination, it will emerge a gorgeous butterfly.
It flaps its wings frenetically and tests out its mobility. Yes, these will do nicely. And there it goes! Soaring up, up, up into the sky and out into the world. Where will it land next? That’s anyone’s guess.
Have I overworked that metaphor? Oh contraire, I’m just getting warmed up.
A few days ago, I was putting some things into the trunk of my car. It was early in the morning and a gorgeous day. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, and it looked like Canada had switched places with the Mediterranean. It was the kind of sky we see in pictures of locations we dream about visiting.
One day I’ll do it. I’ll walk barefoot in the sand and stare up at that picture-perfect view. One day!
Can you imagine walking under something so hypnotically blue that it looks too good to be true? It’s a photograph of a painting drawn from a dream. It’s so stunning that my brain couldn’t process it. I saw it, but it didn’t click into place. For a moment, I forgot that I was in a hurry, and I squinted into the sun.
I was staring at the surreal sky, and a butterfly fluttered by. I watched it flap around a bush filled with red flowers. It went from one to the next, but it wasn’t settling down. It was a long shot, but I grabbed my camera and slowly walked over. I was sure it would get startled and fly away, but it kept hopping from one flower to the next.
If it kept it up, there was no way I was getting a clear shot. It really needed to settle so, I asked, “Do you mind if I take your picture? Could you hold still for a little bit?”
The butterfly flapped its wings a few more times and landed on a flower. It opened its wings, held perfectly still so, I seized the opportunity and snapped a quick pic. Thank you so much, little friend. And yes, I talk to animals like they can understand me because I like to believe they can.
Sure, we like to think that, as human beings, we’re the superior species, but we can’t talk to animals. They can communicate with us and understand what we’re saying. How else do you explain this flutter-by moment? Or the time I asked a cougar to leave me alone, and it did. I once told an eagle I thought it was incredibly beautiful, and it waved its wing at me.
See? Animals can understand us, or I’ve just discovered my superpower. I can communicate with animals. What do I do with that kind of power? Raise an army of raccoons and take over the world! Nah, that sounds like a lot of work, and I’m too lazy.
I’ll use it to take pictures and get copious amounts of puppy cuddles. That’s more my speed. It’s the closest to heaven I’ll get on this bulbous planet. Yep, cuddles and pictures. What more could a gal want?
After I took the picture, I had the silliest thought. It fluttered in, and I quickly dismissed it. I shook my head, chuckled, huffed and chased it away with the words, don’t be stupid. Then I got into my car and drove away like the thought hadn’t occurred.
If I’m being honest? I want to believe. I want it to be true. Despite my cynicism, I hold on to the idea that this is the sign I’ve been looking for. It’s giving me a reason to be hopeful that something good is coming my way.
Do you believe in signs and symbols? Do you think we’re being sent messages through butterflies and blue skies? Or, are these things lovely moments and coincidences that don’t hold any significance? The only purpose they serve is a simple moment of happiness and a story to tell?
When it comes to these sorts of things, I’m conflicted. I want to believe that God— or whatever you believe in— is sending me a message in a way I’ll receive it. Growing up in the Christian church, I was taught to listen to God’s voice, but no one could tell me what that voice sounded like. I never heard it so, I thought God was too busy to talk to me.
After all, millions of people all over the world are asking for God’s help right now. Some of those things require immediate divine intervention. War, famines, diseases, and many other horrible things, can only be repaired or managed by a higher power. When I think about those things? Of course, God wouldn’t have time to pop-round for a chat and a cuppa tea.
It’s okay, I get it, but I still strain to hear the voice of God.
But what if divine beings communicate differently? We use our voices and our words to convey thoughts and feelings. It’s very human of us to assume that God would do the same, isn’t it? What if I’m missing the message because I’m listening instead of looking?
The butterfly landing on that flower and opening its wings to show me its beauty. The cloudless and vibrant sky was otherworldly. A moment of calm before a hectic morning. A brief pause to appreciate the small things in a literal way. The fleeting thought that maybe this was an omen of hope amidst my darker days.
What if this was a sign from above?
Or, and this is my inner cynical realist talking, it was just a butterfly, and the sky just happened to look like it did. It was a beautiful moment that has no meaning whatsoever. Other than being a nice little story and a beautiful picture? It holds no real significance.
It made me smile, and I felt a sense of gratitude for the wonders of nature. It was a pause button on a busy morning. A meditative experience? Sure, why not? I took a breath, chatted with an insect, and snapped a photograph. That’s as deep as it got.
Does it really have to mean something or be more symbolic than that? Of course not, no, but it would be nice if it did.
If there was a powerful entity out there in the great unknown, sending us messages and looking out for our wellbeing? If God’s real, and all those prayers are being heard? If, no matter how busy they are, God is still listening and trying to communicate in a way we’ll understand? It would be nice.
When it comes to faith, God, and all of that, I struggle to balance my desire to believe— my innate need to believe— with my inborn skepticism. For something to be believable, I need to see, touch, and engage all of my senses. If there’s room to doubt or ask questions, then that’s where my mind goes. I automatically apply logic despite needing to believe that the butterfly is a hopeful sign.
Later that day, after the butterfly visit, I unexpectedly got a chance to get my second COVID vaccine. I’d just registered the day before, and miraculously there was a spot for me so, I snagged it as quick as I could. It was a two to three-week wait, but I was able to get it right away. I’m now fully vaxxed!
I almost cried and kissed the nurse giving me the shot, but that would’ve been inappropriate. Thankfully, social distancing and a modicum of decorum prevailed. I’m sure she’s grateful for it.
It was a very emotional moment for me for a lot of reasons. I’ve had a kidney transplant and take anti-rejection medications to keep me alive. These drugs lower my immune system, making me susceptible to infection and extreme complications. A pandemic isn’t the place for someone like me— immunosuppressed and chronically ill— but I made it to this point. Thanks to this vaccine, I stand a real chance of surviving it all together.
A few weeks ago, someone I know passed away from COVID days before they were supposed to get their first shot. They were so close, they almost made it, but the virus got to them first. When I sat down to get the last jab, I thought about them. I got it for them and everyone who didn’t make it to this point. When the needle went into my arm, I pictured their faces, and the moment carried more weight. The emotion behind it dulled the sting, and the gratitude that followed made the side effects seem not so bad.
I was in the waiting area, and I thought about the butterfly that graced me with its presence a few hours before. They represent life, rebirth, transformation, change, and hope. Symbolically, they’re the cycle of life and growth. As I sat there, getting a shot that will give me my life back, I couldn’t help but wonder if the symbolism holds some truth.
Maybe it was an omen or a message from God? I was about to get an opportunity to live a more open life. After 15 months of near isolation, I was given a chance to go out into the world again. Partially, because this shot isn’t a cure and it isn’t full-proof, but it stacks the odds in my favour. What I do with those odds and with this chance?
I think I’m going to need to watch out for more signs to know for sure. If I believe in that kinda thing? Do I believe in it? Is it the flutter-by effect that tickles my mind and turns my eyes toward the mystical, magical, or the divine?
It puts my racing, anxious, depressed mind on pause so that I can explore the small wonders. Instead of focusing on everything that has and can go wrong; it reminds me that there’s more going on between heaven and earth than I’ll ever know. It’s that voice that says believing is great, but needing to believe is greater. Stop moving, ask questions, and seek answers.
If you really want to hear God’s voice— or receive a message from a higher power— then give the flutter-by effect a try. Enjoy a few minutes of stillness, and beauty with a curious mind. Appreciate the unknown and the indefinable wonders. Watch a butterfly land on a flower and spread its wings. Take a moment to breathe and reflect. Maybe we can learn how to look instead of listen?