(A year ago, I wrote a story called "The Broken Wing". Tonight, I have written a sequel to that story. If you have not read the original story - or have not read it recently - I suggested reading it here before moving on to the story below.)
The Broken Wing, Part 2
After the little one gave up his wings, he rested in the hand of the Holy One. He had never known that he could feel so safe, so completely at peace.
Ever since his wing had been broken, he had been afraid, though he never admitted it to any of the others. How could he? He was not just a butterfly, he was a Monarch after all. His was the only butterfly species known to migrate hundreds, even thousands of miles every year in an awe-inspiring journey.
"All of that is behind me now", he told himself. For the first time in his life, he felt himself flying through the heavens, winglessly, effortlessly, as the Holy One drew him on. Before long, they were Home. It was strange. The little one had no memory of this wondrous place but he never stopped to question where he was. He simply knew that it was Home and that he had always felt a longing for it deep inside.
At Home, there were no worries, no predators, no lack of flowers for food. And something rather like wings (and yet not like them) had grown out from the place behind his heart. There were many of his kind, even generations of his family here - and many not of his kind as well. And they all lived in harmony in this beautiful place. The little one felt blissfully content - almost. There was one thing that bothered him still. Should he ask?
Just then, as though sensing the question, the Holy One appeared by his side. "What is it, little one?" the Holy One asked. "Why is your joy not complete?"
"O most Holy One," the little one began. "I don't want You to think that I am not grateful. But there is one thing I do not understand. It is about my broken wing."
"Yes," the Holy One replied, waiting patiently.
"When the bird swooped down and nipped me," the little one began, almost afraid to go on, "where were You? Why did You not protect me?"
"I was there," said the Holy One. "I was with you."
"I didn't see you!" the little one cried out, forgetting his earlier fear as the anger swept over him again. "I was alone. Where were you?"
"My dear little one..." the Holy One murmured. "I was there. I felt the pinch of the beak and all of your pain and fear were mine as well."
"I don't understand," the little one said doubtfully, "I don't see how that could possibly be. I was alone."
"I made you," stated the Holy One. "I formed you in the egg and again in the cocoon. My life was in you and with you always. Without Me there, you could not have drawn nectar from a flower or flown the heavens. Did you think that you lived apart from Me?"
The little one was silent for a moment. For that was what he had thought.
"But then why didn't you stop it?" he cried out. "Why didn't you stop that awful bird? Didn't you care that he was hurting me?" By this time, the little one was sobbing.
The Holy One paused. There was a time for answers - but this was a time for healing.
"Yes," He said gently. "Yes, I did care. I cared deeply enough to suffer the pain with you."
"But that didn't help me!" the little one retorted. "Why didn't you stop it?"
"Tell me, dear one," the Holy One began gingerly. "Did you learn anything after your wing was broken?"
The little one stepped back from his anger and pondered this question, for he knew that he had to be honest, not just with the Holy One but with himself.
"Yes - yes, I did," he stammered. "I learned to think less about my injury and more about You. I began to want to please You."
"Good," affirmed the Holy One. "And you did please Me. Did you learn anything else?"
"Well, I learned that the damage that the bird did to my wing...well, it didn't make me...worthless. That was what I thought at first, you know. I just wanted to die. I was so ashamed. I called out to You but You didn't answer." The little one's tone still held some anger. "When You didn't answer, it occurred to me that I could still do something for the world. Sister bee taught me to pollinate."
"And was that not your answer?" the Holy One replied. "I live in sister bee just as I live in you."
For a moment the little one was silent. This began to make some sense...but...
"If You live in me and in sister bee, does that mean that You live in the bird that nipped me too?" The little one's moment of peace dissolved in a shame and fury worse than any of the anger he had felt before. "Did You nip me, did You hurt me to punish me and make me learn?"
The moment after he said this was one of the longest and most awful moments of his existence. He wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answer.
"Dear little one," the Holy One began. "That is not My Way. Yes, I did live in the bird - for a time - for I live in all of My creatures when I make them." He paused. "If the bird - I can no longer call him My bird - had taken you for food, it would have been an entirely different matter. All of my creatures must eat. Had he simply eaten you, you would have come Home here to Me and we would be in joy as all here are."
"How did this happen then? I still don't understand," the little one asked breathlessly, afraid to hope that it could be true - that the broken wing was not his fault.
"This bird that I made left My Way," said the Holy One, with deep sadness. "He nipped you, not for food, but out of meanness and pride. Among the birds, it is well known that you monarchs carry a poison in your bodies that is fatal to most birds. Some other birds - I can no longer call them Mine - dared him to hurt a monarch and he wanted to look brave and important in front of the others."
"Oh," the little one whispered thoughtfully. "But why did he choose me?" Again, he felt a stab of fear that perhaps it was something he had done wrong.
"Simply because you were there, my little one. That is all. Because you were there."
The little one pondered some more. "O most Holy One, I understand much more now. But I still do not understand why You didn't stop him. Was he too strong for you?"
For a moment it seemed as though the Holy One was frowning - but then suddenly He was laughing.
"That little one? Too strong for Me?!" For a moment, the heavens shook with His laughter... but then He became sad again.
"I could have taken the life out of him," granted the Holy One gravely. "Indeed, I could have. But I did not."
Now the little one was truly puzzled. The Holy One could have stopped his injury but hadn't. He waited, sensing that there was more. But then he could wait no longer. "Why then," he cried. "Why didn't you take the life out of him before he hurt me?"
Again, the Holy One paused. "Do you remember, before your injury, when you thought you lived apart from me?"
The little one gulped. He didn't know that the Holy One knew about those thoughts.
"I did not take the life out of the bird for the same reason I did not take the life out of you," concluded the Holy One gently. "I wanted him to choose Me, just as I wanted you to choose Me. In the end, you did choose Me and you returned to My Way."
"And the bird?" the little one asked. "Can he still choose and return too?" He had started feeling a little sorry for the bird, though he didn't know why.
"That, my dear one, is his story. Enough. You are Home now and I give you My joy."
This concludes my special Week of Hope - though hope itself is eternal :-). I will take a brief break from posting daily to catch up on my life and then will begin a Week of Peace. Comments and contributions on any of the holy pauses are still welcome and may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.