Have you ever watched a butterfly dance?
A friend brought me a beautiful bouquet of Mexican Sunflowers and sat them on the ground near us as we began a socially distanced, outdoor chat. I had just received word about the death of dearly loved friend and was a weepy, snotty mess.
Ingrid tenderly listened while I told her all about my experiences with Cheryl’s bright and joyful energy, generous and loving heart, and selfless spirit.
In the midst of our conversation, a lovely Monarch butterfly lightly wafted through our air space and gently landed on the deep orange-hued blossoms. We were both immediately awe-struck by this sacred moment. Our delicately winged visitor was in no hurry to leave and she lingered with us in reverential silence for at least 20 minutes, gently and slowly flapping her ornamental wings.
I steadily became aware of Ingrid softly praying. When she finished, our lovely guest gleefully flitted and fluttered; playfully bobbing up and down, weaving back and forth, and looping side to side. After her holy dance, she landed daintily and dawdled a while longer. Shortly thereafter, without fanfare, she lifted skyward yawing as if to wave good-bye. We waved back thanking her for her visit.
After Ingrid left, the fullness of grief landed on me like a lead balloon immobilizing me. In a brief text exchange with my cousin, explaining I how I felt, he responded:
Even if you can find only a tiny space to do this in, ask yourself what are you believing…? Without any looking for an answer… Just the tiny space of the question…
No expectation… Nothing… Just be in that tiniest little space that is made apparent by such a simple question, a question you are inviting something else to answer, if it wishes, in its own time, or not…
You are in total not-knowing, just this question that comes and goes, leaving you in its spaciousness… Hang out there, let everything pass through you, all the feelings thoughts images memories and sensations…
So, I did and that is when I heard it, like a needle stuck in a scratch on a vinyl record, repeating the same line over and over again.
“I can’t believe she’s gone.”
Everybody acknowledges grief differently and there is no timeline for working through the heartache and pain. In the wake of deaths due to COVID, there could be, at a minimum, anywhere from a half a million to a million or more beloveds experiencing the grief of losing a loved one—and that is just COVID deaths. That number does not include those mourning the total loss of their homes, belongings, and/or possibly business’s due to fire and flooding or other unforeseen circumstances. We are living through unprecedented times of affliction, suffering, and loss.
What is there to do? How do we move forward? Where do we go from here?
I followed my cousin’s advice and sat in the awareness of not-knowing, letting the question “what am I believing” come and go in the spaciousness, allowing all the feelings, memories and sensations to pass through. Eventually, the needle moved and fluid freedom returned.
About grief, the mystic poet Rumi says:
I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out, “It tastes sweet, does it not?” “You’ve caught me,” grief answered “and you’ve ruined my business. How can I sell sorrow when you know it’s a blessing?”
Maybe this is what David was saying in Psalm 30 verse five, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Situations and circumstances do not necessarily change for the better overnight, but maybe you will experience a dancing butterfly while you wait.