Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 5: An abundance of grace

It was just a week ago that I came home after a day of working on the edge of migraine. My brain was foggy and my body tired. I had come home from work a little earlier than usual, looking forward to getting some much-needed rest. As I was driving toward my house, I glanced over at a neighbor's garden where I have taken some lovely photos this summer. Something looked a little different but, from my car, I couldn't see what. Was there something new in bloom?

Parking my car in the garage, I emerged with the thought: I could take a little walk over and look. Another part of me argued back that I was so tired and I didn't feel well; I should just go in and rest. However, dropping off my things in the house, the curious part of me won out. My camera and I went over to investigate. It was not a long walk.

I paused at the fence, scanning the somewhat overgrown garden for something new. Everything looked about the same as the last time I had come... I had never met this neighbor before and no one ever seemed to so much as peer out of a window when I ventured onto the driveway to get a better shot. On one occasion, in fact, I had been so bold as to go up the drive to their private sidewalk because I had seen a beautiful tiger swallowtail butterfly flitting around their butterfly bush. No one had emerged to object but the butterfly had been a restless sort, not taken to sitting still and posing for amateurs like me. Thus the few photos I had taken were blurred by my rushed attempts to capture the image of the tiny creature before it skipped on to its next destination.

I was about to go up the driveway once again that evening, to explore a bit further, when I saw him: a man leaning into his car right in front of the house. "Why did I come?" I thought miserably. "If this is his house, I can't just  walk up the driveway like I have a right to be here." My shyness suggested that I just forget this silly escapade and go home... Yet there was something in me that didn't want to leave. "Excuse me," I said to the man's back, "Do you live here?" He looked up, puzzled, and stated that he did. I held up my camera and asked if he minded if I walked up closer to his garden. He was granting me his permission and guiding me up his driveway when I saw it. A large, beautiful, almost perfect tiger swallowtail, gliding toward his butterfly bush.

Moving toward it, all thoughts of fatigue and shyness vanishing, I drew up my camera, ready to take a quick shot as the butterfly landed. It landed gracefully and remained still, perhaps drawing its nectar or just basking in the evening sunlight, its wings lazily opened. I focused and took my first shot. The butterfly did not seem to notice as I walked around it, trying new angles and distances. It fluttered to another cluster of blossoms, resting as contentedly there as on the first. After nine shots, I decided that I had had my fill of the "nectar" I had come for and I headed back to the neighbor who was watching from his doorstep. After exchanging a few words and offering my thanks, I returned home full of joy.

It was not hard to choose words to complete the poster above. An abundance of grace. Not because the butterfly itself was graceful, though certainly it was. Abundant grace that there are butterflies... grace that my spirit was unknowingly drawn to a beauty that I had been chasing, only to have it given to me with utter generousity at the moment I most needed it... grace that my focus on my fears and my ills did not keep me from following... grace that I can now share this with you.

An abundance of grace... my wish for you always.