The Gift of the Butterfly

I was surrounded by them. Dozens of butterflies danced around me as I did something I do every year … prepare for hurricane season.

It’s a multi-day project that requires inspecting our home from top to bottom. Impact windows and doors must be cleaned, accordion shutter tracks and locks greased, screens repaired or replaced, mental notes made about things that could become projectiles during a storm, and deciding where to store them before a storm’s winds reach Category 1 status.

I was lost in the process, but the butterflies insisted on getting my attention.

I had never seen so many of them around our house. But ever since our next-door neighbor took up a new hobby during the pandemic, and started planting flowers and vegetables in his garden, nature has been hanging around even more so than usual.

That’s a tall order, considering we live on the edge of the Florida Everglades. Our house sits in nature’s living room, and getting a text from “Farmer Ken” — as I affectionally call him — telling me there’s an alligator in my backyard is not a big deal.

I love Ken’s yard and the fresh produce he is cultivating. There’s nothing quite like preparing dinner and going outside to pick cherry tomatoes and grab some fresh kale to go with the meal.

But the visit from the butterflies took me by surprise. They insisted that I pay attention to them, some fluttering so close by that their wings gently kissed my cheeks.

It was then that I recalled something I had heard long ago.

A butterfly will only land on your shoulder when you stop chasing it.

It was a message I had forgotten, but one I needed to hear.

Symbols and the messages and lessons they bring often hide in plain sight until we open our hearts to see them.

The old saying reminded me of something else I learned in the innocence of my youth.

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If not, it never was.”

Here’s to releasing that which I love deeply, hoping that one day … it returns.

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