I woke up early this morning, before anyone else in the house.
As I sat drinking a cup of tea one of our dogs started barking and wouldn’t stop so I decided to go and see why, thinking it was probably another palm frond fallen down in the backyard. He always gets concerned when this happens.
I couldn’t see anything that may have caused his alarm, but immediately I noticed a fluttering on the edge of a hanging plant under the back deck.
Going over to have a look I saw the most beautiful butterfly caught in the coconut fibre surrounding the hanging basket, so I gently freed the tangled butterfly.
(What a great name for a song or poem, I thought……”Tangled butterfly”.)
The butterfly fluttered to the ground and lay there exhausted and at first I walked away, but then hesitated, worried that the dogs may trample it so I walked back over and scooped it up in my hands and looked for a safe place for it to sit and recuperate.
The whole garden is sodden with all the rain, there wasn’t a suitable place to be seen….too early for sun anywhere out there, so I just stood there stupidly, holding this butterfly not knowing what to do with it.
I felt like a child again, in that moment and it made me think of all the times AS a child when I had felt the same kinds of compassion towards small creatures.
Maybe I was a bit of an odd kid, but I remember finding dead birds in the garden and feeling compelled to give them a proper burial, complete with a little “service” where I would stand solemnly and sing Kum ba ya. (It was the most “funeral-ish” song I knew, and always seemed appropriate somehow.)
I sent many little birds “on their way” in this serious manner.
One time, at my grandmothers house, I found a dead mouse. Attached to it’s teat was the tiniest little baby mouse, pink and hairless, still alive…
It upset me greatly, and I was determined to save this poor little thing.
I remember my grandmother saying….”It won’t live….you can’t save it!” but she let me try anyway.
I wrapped the tiny creature in a tissue, soaked a cotton ball in milk and tried to “feed” it to the baby mouse.
That night I slept with it cradled gently to my chest.
Of course, in the morning it was dead.
I was so sad.
There was a snake in my grandmothers yard once too. They had killed it.
I knew of course, to be afraid of snakes, there were some nasty ones in Africa….but still, my fascination, and compassion drove me to try and move it….at least take it away somewhere “better”.
I’ll never forget the fright I got as I dragged it by the tail and it seemed to “move”….to writhe, as though it were still alive.
“It’s just the nerves…” my grandmother said.
I think that turned out to be too scary to actually bury, for me, but I still remember feeling sorry for the snake, and maybe even a little bit annoyed at them for killing it.
All these memories came flooding back to me this morning as I stood with this butterfly in my hands.It was the most beautiful thing….the colours so incredibly vibrant, orange, red and black…It looked newly hatched to me. Just trying to find its way, in this “new” life.
I don’t know why, maybe I read into things too much, but it just seemed especially symbolic for some reason.
It lay quiet and still in the palms of my hands, finally calm…accepting of its fate.
I felt especially empathetic towards it.
Not sure how to describe it, but it was as though this simple act of rescuing a butterfly was just important, held some special meaning or something…
Finally I decided on a safe dry spot.
One small corner bathed in gentle morning sunlight by the back gate.
I put the butterfly down and left it there to rest.
This morning I am reminded, to feel gratitude for these things.