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When Butterflies Visit

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Today, my grandmother visited me. She’s been gone for many years and we haven’t spoken but once since she passed. When I was a little girl, we stayed with my grandparents for a while after moving across country. I loved being at their house. Everything about life there felt welcome. One morning, Grandma called me outside to the porch. She pointed toward the brick red painted ceiling and showed me a miracle.

Hanging by a nearly invisible thread was a caterpillar. He was smoothing a silken web around himself, making a cocoon. Every day she and I would sit on the porch and watch the changes until that fateful morning when the caterpillar chipped away at his home. Little by little, piece by piece, the shell broke away. When all the pecking and pushing was done, what remained was a fidgety creature, so delicate and pristine, that my eyes shone with tears.

As I looked on, watching something I couldn’t comprehend yet somehow innately understood, she fanned her feathery wings and my heart sang. With my grandmother’s guidance, I learned that creation and metamorphosis are the same. I learned to believe in God and the mysteries beyond my grasp.

This morning as I came downstairs, I heard a soft, rhythmic beating. It came from outside. I opened the front door and followed the sound with my eyes. Inside of a glass globe that hangs high above my head, I saw movement, something wiggling inside. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was an incredible butterfly. Had it been there all along, snugged up against the dried leaves that rested at the bottom?

Suddenly enlightened I understood why his miraculous arrival had escaped me. I’ve stopped looking up. I leaned over the bowl and starring into the mouth, I saw my grandmother inside. I knew it was her reminding me of our hours together on that porch, reminding me to hope.

The sound of the butterfly’s wings as she struggled to escape what was once her sanctuary, became deafening. I couldn’t leave nature alone. I stretched and gently tipped the container to the side. Leaves and wings tossed briefly and a few last flutters set her free.

She soared so quickly and defying gravity, the little angel floated up and above the tall trees, higher than the house and higher still, setting her course toward the forest. I watched until she was out of sight and when she was, I said a prayer of thanks to my grandmother and to this incredible universe of light.

Family photo's from the 70's
Author, Holly Manno

for my Mom

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