Many, many years ago, when simpler things frustrated me more, an unexpected bill, the mess of broken glass, a persistently rude telemarketer, I had a pretty irritating day homeschooling (which I truly loved most days, the amazing gift of speaking into the minds and spirits of my two zany and goofy kids). But somewhere on this day, trapped between a sibling snafu or rivalry, which library book to read first, who had more tea, somewhere between fractions, the argument of lay versus lie, and what is the correct spelling of Wednesday, I was just tweaked. I looked out past the pile of books sitting there stacked, yet to open, the mass of dirty dishes to wash, the chicken I'd yet to roast, and all I saw out my window was cement. Concrete. The asphalt, that is all around me, everywhere, in my life. It was gray and dirty, drab and oh so boringly flat. I've always been drawn to curves. I grew up near Santa Monica, nestled in the foothills where trees arched over our drive like ballerina arms, sun's light dancing between black walnut and weeping willow leaves, and birds sang out loudly and free. I grew up at the foot of mountains plieing, overflowing with the applause of flowers and trees, sunshine. My neighbors were raccoon, deer, so many snakes, and scorpions. We even had an owl in our tree.
But this morning I did something I almost never do. I asked God to give me a sign. I pleaded with him to send me a little butterfly, it needn't be a monarch, it could be terribly tiny, white, black, anything, almost insignificant, but it would be a reminder of the life I once had, the freedom and the beauty that felt so bereft from where I sat this day, feeling this urge to pick, to run, and scream. I needed my hills and the ivy of my home.
But nothing happened. All day long I waited and God sent nothing. No butterfly, no birds, no arabesque of wind, nothing, but flatness before me. I did my jobs, cooked and cleaned and taught, all feeling very trivial and mundane. I was deeply disappointed.
Finally, night began to fall, rather peacefully, as the setting sun changes what you see. We were eating our chicken from clean plates with our precious books tucked away until tomorrow. I was still feeling blah, passing pepper, salt, everything for me was lacking flavor, when a huge truck drove by stopping before us, a huge recycling truck. It came to pick up the unwanted from someone's life. This was the beauty of our dinner view. Not the rabbits I once watched, or the jacaranda. It stayed there a long time, through our peas and salad, and chicken thighs. And as it turned, taking away everything that someone wanted to rid themselves of, I saw its back, with the most hideously ugly butterfly. It had been sloppily painted in orange, black and neon gray. It looked like it was a sorry attempt to cover graffiti, someone's spew of cuss words. Profane. And I cracked up. Not a little dainty thing but a loud spitting snort. Those of you who know my laugh know, oh so well. It rolled and I guffawed. My kids and husband looked at me in shock. What the heck could be so funny, what had they missed? And I tried to tell them that I'd asked for a sign, a message from God that He loved me and understood my frustration, between gasps and spittle, that all I wanted was a little butterfly that day and I'd waited all day and gotten nothing. And now just at the very end of the day He brings me this...a trash truck. A huge trash truck with a hideously ugly butterfly slopped, slapped smack on its butt. I was hysterical. I couldn't stop laughing, I could barely breathe. My family looking a little scared, worried, that Mom had finally lost it. I tried to explain the awesome humor in God's joke, His utter delight in helping me see my belligerent stupidity, but it was all beyond them. They kept saying it really wasn't that funny. I really was making this much too much. Be to me, to God, it was a standing ovation moment. Yes. Yes, I had gotten my sign. I had my butterfly which sheds its cocoon. And I had also lost what was no longer wanted.