The Journey to Hawaii
Several years ago, one of the cancer patients I counseled told me she was going to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where her mother lived. The patient intended to resolve her difficulties with her mother and die there. She accomplished all that she had hoped for and died there feeling loved, complete and at peace with herself.
About eighteen months after my patient’s death, my wife Bobbie and I were invited to the island of Kauai to do an outdoor weekend workshop. I was thrilled to go because I love the islands and feeling close to God and the process of creation when surrounded by mountains, the ocean and the beauty of nature.
That plus my patient dying there, who I felt close to, really attracted me to go there and contribute a workshop on the art of healing. So off we flew.
Meeting the Butterfly
We arrived early on the Friday before the workshop, got settled in our hotel room, and then went out to get something to eat. After the meal, we went into a neighboring store to get some supplies we needed and saw a butterfly circling around the store’s ceiling lights.
No one seemed to notice it or show any interest in rescuing it, but my wife and I are always rescuing creatures. Our home has been a zoo for decades. Every species shared our family room and bedrooms with our five kids and were not confined in any space. We broke multiple zoning laws on our two acres but never were reported by the police or neighbors because they knew we did it because of our reverence for life.
When she saw the butterfly, my wife climbed up on the store counter and held her open hand up towards it. I was amazed when instead of being frightened by my wife’s hand, the butterfly flew over and landed on her hand.
Family Time with Butterfly
I helped my wife down and we walked out of the store with our purchases and the butterfly on her hand. When outside my wife extended her arm with the palm up and both of us expecting the butterfly to happily fly off and be free again to live its life. But it just sat still on my wife’s hand and wouldn’t fly off even when she shook her hand to suggest to it that it was time to leave.
So the three of us climbed into our rental car and drove back to our hotel. We again tried to release the butterfly but it refused to fly off and instead settled itself on my wife’s shoulder and went into the hotel and up to our room with us.
In the hours before our bed-time it became family; it would not leave. It began to get rather mystical. I truly began to feel it could be the spirit of my dead patient connecting with me through the butterfly, a symbol of transformation. The transition and struggle from caterpillar to butterfly symbolizing the life and death transition.
A Spiritual Presence
When bed-time approached, the butterfly perched on my wife Bobbie’s shoulder. I said to her, “Honey you can’t sleep with a butterfly.“ She went outside on the porch and came back saying, “I brushed it off my shoulder.”
“Look at your other shoulder,” I responded. Yes. it had flown over to her other shoulder and came back into the apartment.
I took lots of photographs of it sitting on Bobbie’s hand or shoulder and they are all around our house. Now I felt and knew this was no coincidence. It was my patient’s spirit joining us so the butterfly became family. We enticed it to sample some water we sweetened with sugar. When it began to drink, we jumped into bed.
The evening went smoothly. The next morning we became family again and I started talking to the butterfly through our consciousness. I told it that I wanted to use it at the workshop as a symbol of transformation. My plan was to have it climb into a paper bag. Then I would discuss its symbolism with the workshop participants and then open the bag and release it.
The Butterfly Knows
The butterfly went right along with my plan. So we drove to the site of the outdoor workshop. Just before we got there, I placed the butterfly carefully in the bag. At 9AM I began my presentation. After discussing the symbol of the butterfly and transformation. I picked up and opened the bag.
Out flew the butterfly. Everyone expected it to fly up and away but it just circled overhead while I spoke.
The workshop was a scheduled nine-to-five event. The butterfly circled overhead the entire day. When I announced, at 5PM, that the event was concluded, the butterfly flew away for good.
Read more on Open to Hope by Bernie Siegel: https://www.opentohope.com/we-dont-die-our-bodies-do/
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