Monday, April 21, 2014

The Easter Butterfly

This Easter seemed to be a bit of a letdown as I drove to church. Of course, maybe that was to be expected since Good Friday marked the ninth anniversary of Jim’s death.

I was bummed because I was going to Easter at the Matthewson alone. I love the years when my kids and grandkids go with me, but this year everyone had other plans. My sister-in-law had planned to go with me, but she called Sunday morning to let me know that she couldn’t go either.

Once I realized I’d be going by myself, I thought about not going. But since I had already taken my shower and had my clothes laid out, I decided to go solo.

Driving time is thinking time for me. So driving to the Fairgrounds, I found my mind wandering to the ghosts of Easter’s past. I thought about Dorothy’s famous Easter cake that she always sent to the employees at the Coop. It was a fluffy white cake topped with coconut “grass” beautifully decorated. I thought about my mother-in-law, Virginia, fixing a huge Easter feast and inviting everyone in the family. Easter was a big deal with Easter dresses, Dinah wearing her Easter hat, laughter, music, and dozens of little ones filling baskets with eggs.

I thought about Jim and when our kids were little, ready for church in western shirts I had made for them, complete with pearl snaps. It seems like a different world, a different me. I can’t believe I had the patience, or time, to sew those little shirts. I thought of school plays, baskets, family, spring flowers, butterflies, the days when April was a time of rebirth and not a time of sorrow and death. All these thoughts left me teary eyed as I suddenly found myself longing for the happy Easters of the past.

I pulled myself together, and parked my car as directed by the people assigned to the parking lot. Our church puts a lot of effort into Easter at the Matthewson. Normally, our church has different services at two different locations, but on Easter everyone comes together and invites the community to join us. It is always an uplifting, spirited service.

A giant cross was rolled inside and kids with butterfly wings swirled and swooped on the stage and down the aisle. Pastor Jim asked us to turn on our cell phones and hold them up in remembrance of loved ones. He said to send the message that “God is alive.” We sang songs, celebrated the rebirth of our Savior.

During the message, Pastor Jim said a few words that really touched me. Not relying on my memory, I typed his thoughts on butterflies into Quick Office on my phone. You can’t put wings on your back and pretend to be a butterfly, and you can’t have wings and continue to crawl.

When you think about it, butterflies begin life as a lowly caterpillar, crawling around searching for food. Their lives are totally boring, mundane, as they eke out their very livelihood by eating the leaves beneath their feed. They mature through stages called instars all the while filling themselves with toxic substances that stick with them and protect them from predators once they become adults. Through metamorphosis, the homely caterpillar emerges as a stunning butterfly and begins life anew. Butterflies don’t crawl anymore, they flit around showing off their colorful regalia while they feed on sweet flower nectar.

Butterflies symbolize rebirth. In ancient Greek, the word for “butterfly” means “soul” or “mind.” In other cultures, butterflies symbolize love, long life, transformation, animal spirits, celebration, good luck, spiritual evolution, or a sign of God’s favor.

To me, the butterfly symbolizes hope. I believe that no matter how low I might be at times, or when I think about what might have been, the butterfly promises that the days ahead will unfurl moments of breathtaking beauty. No pretending necessary—just spread those butterfly wings and fly.

copyright© April 2014 by L. S. Fisher   

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