Butterfly Angels

by Florence Ondré

 

A classmate from high school, Sue Floyd Turner, posted a lovely picture of a person looking at a butterfly fluttering closely by, on which a quote from Doreen Virtue, read, “Butterflies are often messengers of love sent from Heaven above.”

In this month of the 2 year anniversary of superstorm sandy, where so many thousands of us remain displaced; out of our homes with not much more than empty and broken promises in a recovery system that has failed us cruelly, life has become a ‘before’ and ‘after.’

‘Anniversary,’ what a disconcerting name for an event not engendering much singing, dancing or huzzah celebration.

While stunningly still struggling to survive in hardship and basic deprivation as deeply devastating as the storm at landfall 2 years ago, it has been hard to know if Angels are anywhere near.

We tens of thousands feel forgotten; yesterday’s news, receivers of  “Aren’t you done, already?” “Thought you were back home because the yard looks nice.” “I thought everything was fine by now,” comments.  We’re a people of the invisible in between; halfway to or nowhere near a land called ‘rebuild; trying to appear as some semblance of  lost ‘normal.’

In all the overwhelming, with deadlines and more cut offs and losses of help to get back home and frustrating feelings of hopelessness, I realize as I stopped and read this post, that I have noticed the occasional butterflies wafting by in odd circumstances and places.

‘Stragglers to the winged migration,’  I’ve been thinking, as I push on to the next meeting, pound through redundant paperwork, sit on phones trying to track down information to open the channels of funds earmarked for rebuilding which still remain tied up in  mismanagement and blood red tape… and send light to be of some support, inspiration and oddball humor to as many as I can.

Sitting in sunset silence in the backyard of my gutted house; letting my eye and heart wander; remembering which flowers and trees were planted where, before, I can practically smell the lilac tree;  creator of Monet lavender and jade moments,  which grew, over the years, to lush health and  tallness like my sons who played with their friends there; growing up with the roses and blueberry and raspberry bushes; the garden where the great zucchini, big enough for 5 boys to have to line up and hold, took reign over string beans, tomatoes, broccoli and carrots and gave giant sunflowers, as tall as the first floor of the house, a run for their money…the grape arbor that shaded the patio where our golden retrievers lay for cool shade and the evergreen, with soft, sweeping-the-ground arms, that covered the hiding place, buffalo-wallow-like retreat of Bailley, our dog blogger.  The sheltering boughs of the years-before-us, Russian olive tree which created a secret garden corner nook where children, big and small, could look up to see soft silver fur on the underside of green leaves and peek through bird and squirrel nests to see patches of blue sky and scudding puffy white clouds to play ‘who-can-find-the-angel’ in them…the puny peach sapling, newly planted only days before destruction; the least likely to survive and the surprising sole survivor of the flood, produced a prodigious portion of precious peaches this season.

In this back and forth memory lane, I am less sad and more comforted as I pull my focus back to present and see the empty canvas, waiting to be a new work of art in nature.

As I wipe the tears from my face, a lone butterfly comes flittering by: kissing the fluffy stalks rising from the gift given by next door neighbors,  after the flood receded; a small clump of dune grass replanted in hope for life.  For the first year, it drew in upon itself and faltered in the spot where our robust butterfly bush had made its honeyed home; busy with buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies, before the sea drowned it.  Yet, this summer, this dune grass plant tripled its size and grew strong stalks; wide, lengthy, variegated  leaves and white, fluffy, feathery arms high   in sea breeze and whipping-winds, interpretive dance, above the cedar newly reposted, salvaged, cedar fence .

It is odd what died and what lived; what withered and what thrived.

My human focus, needing to be on surviving myself, took me away from the garden and as I sit still, now, in its energy; noticing, I realize that this backyard haven was the first place: the first piece in a puzzle of gigantic loss, where I let go.

This design is no longer mine.  Everything grows or not in its own perfect way, without me.

What lives, lives. What doesn’t doesn’t.

And, just for today; just for these moments, I am grateful for it all as I sit in the simple silence of what might be…whenever it will be.
And I send thanks to Sue and Doreen for reminding me that Angels come in many forms to gently light upon our awarenesses like butterflies, uplift, lighten burdens and show us, in all the world changes and crushes, that we’re not alone or forgotten.

We are guided and loved.

… and, ooh,  ooh… just as I typed these words on my laptop at my makeshift desk, there’s a butterfly right outside my window here in Mt. 6 Manjaro; the top floor, high rise apartment shelter I fondly have dubbed thus, from the early days when I had to climb 7 flights of stairs up and down several times a day when there was no electricity, elevator, heat, water or sewer.

There she is with her rice paper wings, saying hello and farewell;  readying to make an arduous, miraculous journey of her own from New York to Mexico…from start to finish.

How will she do it?

How will we?

On Angel’s wings perhaps.

 

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