May 15th, 2004


the woman in the flowers

Last night some of us went to botanica to hear outdoor concerts. it was a good time. while one of the bands was playing I walked around the gardens. They have a butterfly house there, full of pansies but no butterflies yet because it's just not the season. there was an old woman there sitting on a bench, a volunteer at the gardens. she had a cane near her side and talked quietly to a couple who'd stopped to ask her something.

she told them about a time when she saw monarch butterflies migrating, and she was with two japanese women who were living with her and her husband at the time.

She saw the butterflies all on a tree, so the story went; more butterflies than she'd ever seen in her entire life. She called the women over to look. They stood up and walked over to a tree that was absolutely covered, and when she turned to see what they were doing she saw them with their hands in the air, palms facing the tree, swaying. slowy to one side and then to the other, moving so slowly she couldn't even copy the motion today.

The japanese women were Christians and she'd always thought all Christian women worshipped in pretty much the same way but this was a new kind of prayer, stemming from something deep in their hearts that saw the same God in different ways. their hands uplifted, their bodies in motion, it was apparent that this connection with nature was something born in them that she'd never had before or stopped to think about. she silently watched them swaying before the tree, filled with the monarch butterflies.

we silently listened to her. she told the story a lot better than what i've written out. ten or twelve people, all different ages, just joined in and sat on the rocks and soaked it all in. everyone wore a different expression but listened intensely, and for a moment it almost seemed like none of us were strangers after all. I sat for a long time. She had a lot of important things to say.