It started at Hospice last week. I noticed in the entry there was one picture in particular of a Monarch butterfly that was beautiful. Every time I walked by it just grabbed my attention. At the time it made me think of my grandma, who loved butterflies.
Over the last week I have seen several other photos pop up in different spots of these beautiful butterflies. And last night as I sat down to relax there was a documentary on Netflix about the migration patterns and tagging of Monarch butterflies.
The documentary was wonderful. I did not realize that these seemingly fragile beauties have one of the longest migration routes in the world. It talked about the man who started the tracking project on them and how it was a lifelong journey before he discovered their southernmost stop.
At one point the documentary made note that some cultures believe the Monarch is the spirit of those who have passed. It showed how their migration takes them right through Mexico during Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead, where families honor the souls of loved ones that have passed). What a beautiful symbol!
It turns out that billions of Monarchs congregate in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains in Mexico, huddled together in masses that cover the trees. They stay there through the winter and then begin their journey north in the Spring once again. I was captivated watching them all as they began to move from the trees.
It occurred to me that if Monarchs are the spirit of loved ones passed, then this World Heritage Site in Mexico must be heaven. Turns out, heaven isn't so far away after all. And that is a comforting thought for sure.
But Monarchs are rich in symbolism besides spiritual. They are graceful and yet determined. They pursue this long journey head on each year joining together in one big family. And even before they are these beautiful butterflies, the ability to transform themselves in such a magnificent way is impressive. They literally shed the skin of their caterpillar selves, hardening and allowing their bodies to completely shape shift, and then are born again with wings to soar.
I'm grateful for this message of the Monarchs. I'm grateful to get to see these beautiful butterflies as they travel through Kansas in September. I'm grateful for the picture in the hall at Hospice. And I'm grateful for the documentary that taught me so much more about them. I'm grateful for the beautiful symbolism they hold and the whole new level of respect I have for these delicate but determined creatures.
Have you ever stopped to watch a butterfly flutter by? Is there a particular insect or animal that speaks to you?
May today reignite our awe for nature. May we find a new respect for the processes that are going on around us. Have a beautiful day!