Yesterday while walking Kasha through the local nature trail, I saw something I’ve never seen before and it gave me reason to pause and reflect on the cycles of life and death.
We had just reached the end of the trail and turned right onto the roadway as we continued our walk into the neighborhoods circa Poplar Road in Ridgefield.
Kasha was walking briskly as if she was a full guide dog – walking confidently in the lead position on my left and if I had closed my eyes one could have easily imagined her with a harness on her. It was a pleasure to have her gently pull us both along that quiet street with such confidence and briskness.
Normally I have to keep my head down and watch every step when we walk as Kasha can be a bit unpredictable but not this time. Thus with her brimming confidence in the lead, I was a bit freer to look around and tilt my head back a hair looking up into the canopy of forest trees lining both sides of the street.
As I was looking up at the 40-60 foot high pines, I saw what appeared at first as a leaf to be drifting down from forest tree tops and thought it odd that trees would be shedding leaves during this late Spring, May 27th afternoon. As I watched this leaf float down from the canopy towards the street pavement, it spiraled a bit as it circled on its descent so then I thought, “Hmm. Maybe it is not a leaf but one of those helicopter seeds?” And so I enjoyed watching the gentle dance as it ever so softly spiraled and fell closer and closer to us.
But then as it was about six feet from the ground, I could see it clearer and realized it was not a leaf or a seedling but was the wing of a Monarch butterfly. Not even a full wing at that but a wing that appeared to be three-quarters of its original beautiful self – light yellow with soft dollops of brown and black circles arranged in the beauty of God’s fingerprints that characteristically mark the Monarch butterflies with their distinctive marks.
As I watched it take its final swirls before landing, I looked back up into the trees and tried to study the scene for evidence of that which preyed upon the butterfly. I saw none. No hawks, no owls, no birds of any kind were visible but off to the left was a vigorous choir of happy bird chirps. Thus it occurred to me that the death of this butterfly, while sad to the butterfly families, was also a food source for some bird now satisfied with its meal and tweeting away in all the glory God infused in the sounds of their bird songs.
Kasha and I kept walking, then turned around and headed back home. We passed the lone butterfly wing on the return but she did not notice nor give it a sniff. I on the other hand was a bit saddened and reminded that life is a delicate gift. I said a little prayer of thanks for all the beauty in life and the opportunity to be a part of it. Then I pondered my own mortality as we walked back home.