Butterflies and forgiveness
A Gentle Lesson in Life...
When I was four, my grandma O taught me how to gently catch butterflies in her garden.
Since I was very short, I had an unfair advantage, I would sneak up underneath them and they never saw me coming - and this enabled me to catch them easily.
I would catch Monarchs and Cabbage Butterflies -
and I put some in a jar.
And then I begged my grandma, no doubt very cutely and sweetly, asking her if I could keep them.
And after a few "No" answers, my grandma finally relented and said that I could keep them in my room overnight.
She put holes in the lid of a jar, and explained to me that all living things need air to breathe. She put some flower blossoms in the bottom, lightly sprinkled in water -
and then she warned me - telling me not to open the jar,
Before she sent me home, she solemnly told me that we would free the butterflies in the morning.
I did not fully understand what she meant at the time.
Nighttime in my own bedroom came, and four year old me decided I knew best, and I let those butterflies fly free into the larger container of my room - thinking they would be happier for it.
and of course, just as I happily released them thinking I was doing a good thing
That was the moment I discovered the reason for my promise to grandma.
It is my first remembered taste of regret.
It became imperative that I catch the butterflies and return them to jar, and then to the garden. I was afraid that I had killed them.
And I did not know how to get the butterflies back into the jar, so I could free them for real, back into grandma's garden where they belonged.
I turned my bedroom light on, and tried to recapture them into the jar,
but they were so far away from me on the outer reaches of the ceiling.
And I doubt they wanted to be recaptured, after their first memory of me, trapping them into a jar they were determinedly fluttering far beyond my grasp.
I couldn't reach them even as I stood on the bed. I couldn't reach them even as I jumped up and down on the bed, straining as high as I could, doing my very best to return them to the jar so I could free them in the morning and save my self the pain of disappointing grandma.
I logically opened the window, and begged the butterflies to fly out it into the night.
But butterflies do not speak four year old, instead, doing what instinct told them to do, fluttering helplessly against the ceiling, looking for height to set them free.
I want to say to the butterflies now, "I am sorry."
And I want to forgive myself for not knowing a better way to be in that moment.
It was true, I had received my wise grandmother's knowledge telling me how to do and be, and she explained the reasons for it -
but I had not fully understood her words
and I had not acted on them -
because I did not have the experience for myself of what butterflies need to live.
And, it is now that I forgive myself for begging my grandma to let me keep the butterflies, in fulfilling some four year old need of mine -
and I forgive myself for letting them fly free in my room, as if my thinking the the larger container of my room was true freedom over that of a jar -
and I forgive myself for the story I told myself about the butterflies being happier in the larger container of my room -
when the truth was, I was really being four years old, and I wanted the butterflies to be closer to me without the separation of the glass of the jar.
I am grateful to the dear loving butterflies for teaching me lessons about freedom, allowing beauty to be what it is without possession -
and for teaching me about forgiveness of myself -
and for the lessons of me experiencing for myself
and for teaching me about the wisdom of my beautiful and wise grandma, who I miss dearly.