It’s that time of year again when the Monarch butterflies are making their fall migration. And it is still just as much of a thrill and a joy to see them making a pit-stop in my neck of the woods.
Monarch butterflies are often associated with transitions and change which I wholeheartedly embrace and endorse. For me though, they are also a symbol of Grace and God at work in my life. But sometimes, it’s only through hindsight that we can see it, as was the case with this post from October 2013.
As humans, we are limited in our experience and must abide by a continuum of time and space. But that’s not how God works. He is unbound by these limitations and so therefore God sees, works, acts, and heal in all directions…past, present, future…throughout all of eternity. Because that’s where Grace lives. And my hope is that this post blesses you as much as it has me.
A few weeks ago, Tripp and I were walking the dogs. It was a particularly glorious Sunday afternoon. (I’m just going to go on the record here and state that October is the prettiest month here in northeastern Oklahoma.) At one point we had to stop so that I could tie my shoe laces. And it just so happened that we stopped right across the street from the rundown house around the corner from where we live.
Let me pause for a minute to give you a little backstory. This beautiful, historic home is currently owned by an older woman who shares the house with her grandson. And it is unclear whether this house’s disrepair is lack of financial means or lack of the physical ability to do much. Needless to say though, the property is a mess which is sad sight to see.
Anyway, Tripp and I were standing across the street looking at the house, and as usual, remarking about what a shame it was that no one really took care of it. That day I also noticed how almost half of her side yard was completely overgrown with bright orange cosmos, mostly likely volunteers from years of being overgrown and self-seeding. Even so, it was beautiful…no, actually it was quite breathtaking to see such a bold swath of bright orange color.
But then I noticed, when I looked a little closer, that her field of cosmos was covered in Monarch butterflies!
At that moment I walked across the street, into to her yard and got a closer look, and I seriously thought my heart might burst from the sheer joy of seeing so many of these graceful, beautiful creatures! And right then I told Tripp we had to high-tail it back home so I could get my camera.
So let me pause here again to tell you that this is the time of year when Monarchs are making their annual migration from the northern part of the country to the mountains of Mexico. Our neck of the woods is fortunate to be a rest stop along the way, and for the past several weeks I have been seeing Monarchs all over town – downtown where I work, at a nearby shopping center, and here, around in the neighborhood.
But you know where I haven’t seen them? My own yard. Sure I’ve seen one or two, but nothing like the rundown house on the corner. And I’ve been kinda bummed about it. Because I have tons of flowers in my backyard. Even butterfly-attracting flowers like lantana and verbena. But yet, no Monarchs.
I was thinking about this as I walked back over to the rundown house with my camera. And if I am being completely honest, I may have even been feeling a teensy bit jealous. Because here I am, someone who really loves monarchs. And I planted my lantana and everything. But this lady…who even knows? She just lets things grow willy-nilly and she gets the Monarchs? It seemed a little unfair. That is until I remembered how we sprayed the shit out of our yard. Twice. Once in the spring because of lacewings destroying my azaleas and once during the summer for the aphids that were literally sucking the life out of our crape myrtles.
And then it kind of dawned on me…in my attempts to keep out the bad bugs, it appeared as though I was also keeping out the good bugs.
Since that Sunday afternoon, I’ve been wondering how much I do that in my own life too. How all too often I sanitize my life…running from pain…avoiding suffering. All in the name of wanting things to be ‘good.’
You know, for the past 28 days I have been here on my blog. Writing about my life. Sharing my story. And it’s been interesting for me to see it again here it in this series. I lived it…I remember it all, but what this series has shown me is how many of the same themes at play over and over. And quite honestly it’s made me see my journey in a whole new light.
During the course of the past few weeks I have shared some painful, difficult parts of my journey. But from where I stand now, I can see where God was there in all of it. Through all of the heartache and struggle, how all it led me closer to Him. How all of those painful things were instrumental in bringing me to this good place in my life – a life full of purpose and joy.
I would just like to state that, for the record, I am a cradle Catholic. I was raised by faith-filled parents. I was brought up in the Church and have always believed in a good and loving God. I have seen seen the power of prayer in action and seen God work miracles in the lives of my loved ones. But now that I see my life a little more clearly, how God was at work in all of my pain and sorrow…now that I know this…having experienced His grace firsthand…well, all of a sudden I am feeling a little weak in the knees.
So now to me, it sort of begs the question… if God at work through these ‘bad’ things led me to this ‘good’ place, well then how I can call it ‘bad’? Maybe through the eyes of faith, what I once thought of as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ isn’t so clear anymore. And going forward, when ‘bad’ things happen, well…how might I see it differently?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
I’m thinking that now instead of just seeing heartache and suffering, maybe I can also see an opportunity for grace. Because truly, I believe God is in the midst of it all. And His grace can transform even the most broken and rundown.
I am living proof.