One of my favorite places in the world is Mount Shasta, and of all the sacred and beautiful locales around this mountain, I love a particular meadow about half-way up the slope. The source of its beauty – that nourishes the abundant life there – is a pristine spring.
This is where I like to sit when I visit, right next to the spring. Not only am I able to hear its sweet trickling sound and dip my feet in the freshly-melted-from-the-glacier water, but I’m able to look over the many wildflowers blooming around the tiny stream. And along with the flowers come the butterflies.
I’ve only been to a couple places that had more butterflies (I have seen Monarchs on their migration). There’s a lovely variety of them, too – orange and brown, white, periwinkle. They tend to linger nearby on the warm step stones, not just on the flowers. And this is when I get excited, because I love to coax them onto my fingers.
I don’t know if I just get lucky or I have a gift at this, but on my last visit to the area I had a special encounter with a small periwinkle butterfly (actually, several who seemed to herd together, for lack of a better word). I delighted in the thought that I could connect with this gentle and beautiful insect again.
Two of these petite periwinkle butterflies came to light on the stepping stone near me. I was determined to invite one onto my hand. It couldn’t be forced, though. I had to let go of my expectations – and demands – and simply encourage it to step aboard.
The 5 Lessons
The first thing that it taught me was, of course, patience. It wasn’t keen on my finger nudging it at first. I had to move very slowly with my hand, eventually putting it right next to its foot. Then wait. And gently nudge it again. And wait. If I forced the issue, it flitted away.
Which led to the second lesson – persistence. I could have just given up after the first few tries. But I knew this was possible. And so I was determined to persist, to keep trying, and slowly let it know that I was safe and wouldn’t hurt it by just placing my finger nearby.
But if I lost my focus and turned my attention somewhere else, the butterfly would hop away or fly off. So it wasn’t just being persistent and patient. I learned to stay present. All my attention and energy needed to be right there with the butterfly, my finger, the warm stone, this moment. I worked to clear my mind, emptying the unnecessary thoughts and just being, without attachment, with this delicate and wondrous being.
My presence, in order to build trust with the butterfly, also needed to be gentle. I noticed that sometimes my intent was so strong that it was a little heavy-handed. Too much intensity and the butterfly didn’t want to participate. So I learned soft, gentle presence. From the place of gentleness, my presence was more like a cotton ball, gently there, placed next to the periwinkle butterfly, with a kind invitation.
After several minutes of being there, nudging the little creature with my finger, and sending out a gentle invitation, success. The sweet little being crawled onto my finger and remained there while I stood up and showed my husband and daughter. I few people came to visit the spring and were greeted by the butterfly on my hand and the big smile on my face. I felt so blessed and full of joy to make this connection.
As I meditated on this, I realize that the butterfly had one more message, one more quality to add to the list. It let me know that it was essential to remain open-hearted. My love for the being, as well as my openness to receive its gifts, messages, and wisdom, were part of allowing the experience to happen. I don’t know if being open-hearted actually convinced the butterfly to join me, but I do know that by being open-hearted, I received a lot of joy and insight from the presence of the lavender-winged friend on my finger.
Teaching Me About Deep Connection
So I give thanks to this sweet little butterfly (and the other butterflies that I had similar encounters with on this special trip). I realized that these 5 teachings were essential for meaningful, heartfelt relationships of any sort (human or not). And they are essential qualities to open us to a relationship with the Divine, too.
With these 5 qualities, new doors of deep connection and transformation can open for you, too.
Have you had a special encounter with a wild creature? Comment here and share what you learned!