My mom loved her gardens and had the most beautiful backyard, a mosaic of color and texture with new life emerging throughout the spring, summer and fall. She wasn’t a religious woman but she found her connection to God through nature. Tending to her gardens with her hands in the soil was an act of love and worship for her. It was her meditation.
As a young girl, she experienced the hardships and rations of WWII and remembered how much she had missed butter during the war. After the war ended, she said she would butter her bread on both sides to make up for lost time.
She didn’t often talk about spiritual beliefs or her faith, but one day, many years ago, she shared a story that gave me a new way to perceive the world.
As she was weeding in her gardens one morning, grieving the loss of her mother, a yellow butterfly came to rest on a flower near her. As she moved to another area in the backyard, it followed her, staying close for several minutes. She said she had a realization, an inner knowing, that her mom’s energy was being conveyed to her through this amazing creature, to offer her comfort and reassurance that all was well. After my mom passed in 2013, I began to experience the same loving energy when I saw yellow butterflies, feeling the presence of my mom and grandmother.
Last year on Mother’s Day, I invited my family to join me for a fire ceremony, to release something into the fire that we chose to let go and to offer our prayers for the world, to be lifted and carried by the smoke. During my studies with two Shamans, I had found this sacred practice to be a powerful experience and wanted to share it with my family.
I opened the ceremony by greeting the four directions, Mother Earth, Father Sun, Grandmother Moon, the Star Nations and Great Spirit. I kept my eyes closed as I extended a welcome and invitation to these energies to join our gathering because I didn’t want to be distracted by the bewildered expressions on the faces of my family as they watched me lead a ceremony for the first time.
After completing the opening prayer, I opened my eyes and saw everyone in the circle staring at me with expressions of confusion and awe. I laughed and asked why.
“Mom, didn’t you see it?” my daughter asked.
I conveyed my eyes had been closed during the opening prayer. Everyone in the circle described what they had witnessed.
My family had watched a yellow monarch fly around me, in a complete circle, as my arms were stretched up to the sky greeting Great Spirit. And then it flew off.
The visitor gave my family an entirely different energy and perspective as they participated in the ceremony. It was a gift, an invitation for them to open their hearts and minds to the possibilities of our connections to Spirit in ways we don’t often experience.
And it was a gift for me, that my mom and grandmother were there with me as I stepped into unfamiliar territory, sharing my heartfelt beliefs and new practices with loved ones to explore the connections we have to each other, the world around us, and all that is.
The writer lives in Huntly.