Tonight, I walked past a butterfly, dead on the busy sidewalk.
I wanted to stop and draw chalk around it’s yellow and black wings spread open, tattered and dull. I wanted to bring out caution cones and crime scene tape to detour the distracted commuters. I wanted to stop the nearby busses, opening and closing doors, moving passengers between work and home. I wanted to question witnesses, find security footage, rewind the day to discover if the butterfly’s last moments were filled with dread as feet stepped closer and closer or if it died in a sudden flash of sun reflecting off the windshield of a nearby bus. What was the last flower it visited? Where was it headed? Are there friends waiting?
I didn’t do any of these things. I just kept walking, my arms full carrying groceries and my mind already racing ahead to what I would eat for dinner. Instead, I let it’s frail body disappear behind me without even a prayer.
If I had stopped would anyone pause with me?
Would we create a tiny gurney out of old business cards, perhaps folding in the edges to create a box? Maybe we would form a procession as we turned the corner to find a quiet side garden. Maybe we’d create a funeral pyre out of some twigs, sending the butterfly’s ashes to Valhalla.
I’d want to say a few words, but what could we say for something we didn’t even know existed five minutes ago.
I have a backlog of blog post ideas and this one seemed the best one to clear the block and begin moving.
My mom recently sent me a box of items from the things I have stored at her home. Inside was a card with a poem I wrote while in college. At the time, I felt so strongly about the piece I used my printer to put it on a piece of fancy card.
I wrote it my first year at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada. It felt like the beginning of so much life. I was a second year transfer student from community college. I chose Vancouver for school partly because while I visited the campus, I had a vision of my life that opened to so much joy. I was so right about UBC and the dorm life at Vancouver School of Theology. I made so many life long friends.
The poem is again on my bulletin board, above my desk, so I thought I would share the piece with you.
As a part of the Cathedral series that has emerged, here is a poem/reflection I wrote while working at a YMCA camp in Kalamazoo Michigan. It was October and the trees had been slowly changing for weeks, but the warm summer days still greeted us each afternoon. Until one morning…
It rained last night. At first a light tropical song played in my mind but as I woke a new slower song played.
The trees have been slowly changing their lush green leaves for vibrant technicolor hues of orange, yellow and red. This morning the change in melody was initiated by the trunks of these trees. The wet drops of rain had darkened the tree trunks and moistened the summer bleached grey into a rich black. This new contrast reminds me so clearly of black robed monks processing through a cathedral with magnificent stained glass windows, illuminated by a thousand candles. Their slow deep Latin chanting fills my ears as I slowly process through the tree’s aisles. when I gaze upwards the soft grey sky is punctuated by bursts of red and yellow topping the trees.
I still carry a leaf I found on that day. Hopefully it reminds me that God is processing with me as I walk through the trees. That the trees are God’s greatest cathedrals and some of the greatest reminders to slowly move with the rhythm of life.
Where are the natural cathedrals where you feel God processing slowly with you?