By Denise Badger, Content Editor of The Apopka Voice

I decided to go to a botanical garden today. Something different than staring at the same indoor scenery. And finally, after the normal, slow weekend start, here I am. White sheet on green grass beneath the canopy of a huge, beautiful oak, surrounded by flowering shrubs and trees, blue skies overhead and a saving breeze every once in awhile. I definitely feel the start of summer heat and realize I am not ready for it at all. Cardinals, dragonflies, caterpillars, distant owls and pecking woodpecker sounds fill the air, and these woodland creatures— so colorful, detailed, and extraordinary—delight my line-of-sight and make me stop and stare.

I’ve read some, napped some, dreamt some, and written some. Thankfully more clouds are blocking the sun now. As it drops a little in the sky, the much-needed breeze picks up. I’ve had these teeny tiny, almost invisible bugs biting me on and off; slightly distracting; more annoying than anything. But the butterflies! Did I mention those? I’m by a Lantana bush that is huge and extroverted — pink and yellow blossoming everywhere — and the butterflies love it. They dip and dash and chase and twirl, zooming by and playing in the air so close to me, it’s like my own private show. I see a bumble bee there now. And I can’t forget the ants that keep traipsing across the sheet. They make me nervous so I flick them, as gently as I can, back to the green.

The sunlight painting the landscape now is truly art — filtering through leaves, patterned on the grass, polka-dotting between the branches. It’s a scene that changes moment by moment with the move of sun and clouds and rustling leaves, waving branches. I could stare at it forever. It’s mesmerizing and more beautiful a reality than you’d think ordinary reality would be.

Leaves fall. A butterfly flits again around the Lantana. A bird squawks and twitters in the distance… and an ambulance siren breaks through it all.

It’s hard to believe it’s a coronavirus day, that the pandemic is still here, wild and dangerous and shutting so much down. It feels surreal, this juxtaposition of butterflies playing in the sunshine, dancing on the breeze… and death…and fear…and life-at-a-halt happening, it seems, everywhere else.

Is this how it’s always been? In the most terrible of times, does life and beauty still dance somewhere in the sunshine?


I wrote this in my journal Saturday, just being present with the present. But the unexpected siren and question stuck with me longer than expected.

In the most terrible of times, does life and beauty still dance somewhere in the sunshine?

And I believe the answer is… must be… yes. I believe in the midst of the worst — whatever that worst is — there will always be…is always… something…or someone… or some moment…or thought, or reading, or idea, or experience…Something that lifts our eyes and our hearts to see and remember and know: there is more. There is life. And love. And beauty. And hope. Always.

There is.

And always will be.

Something more.

And the something-more-than-the-gray-you’re-in-now is dancing in the sunshine, waiting for you to see again, and know again, and experience again.

It’s in the laughter shared. In the encouragement of a card. In the unexpected act of generosity.

It’s the morning coffee with someone you love. It’s the dog’s tail wagging furiously and the smile on his furry face. It’s in the morning birdsong and squirrel scamper.

It’s in your child’s hug. A hot shower. And in inspiring words written ages ago by those who endured and survived, just like you’re doing now.

    “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

    “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with            wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”              – Isaiah

    “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor”. “The quieter you become, the more          you are able to hear.” – Rumi

I don’t know where you are in the journey of this sudden reality being formed, but if for a moment you’ve forgotten the taste of life, the sound of beauty, the sight of your soul, or the hope of a bright tomorrow…stop for a moment and be present. Be present with your feet on the ground, your eyes open, and your heart listening. Stop and see. Stop and be. Until you too notice life and beauty dancing in the sunshine, inviting you back into life lived looking up and out to what is, and what will be again.


  1. Delightful to read. Takes one to a calm beautiful place from this world of turmoil. I stumbled on this article, and Happy I did. Takes me to my childhood when life was filled with picnics, fishing in local brooks with my dad in Northern Maine, wading through snow to cut a Christmas tree, picking wildflowers in a nearby field, enjoying an outdoors hotdog roast with family and friends. So many happy and memorable times flooded my mind with love and recall of times buried in my sacred precious place, of my heart forever. Thank you for whisking me back to these times. We are experiencing troubled times now but” this too shall pass”. Wander outside and enjoy the wide open spaces and let your mind carry you to happier times.

    • Hi Barbara, This is Denise. I am just seeing your comment now – my apologies for missing it! Thank you for sharing. You write beautifully here, and I’m so glad to hear that this brought good memories back to you – what gifts those are! March seems ages ago now… and even more the need to remember “this too shall pass”. Sometimes it just takes a little longer, and holding on a little tighter to the love, and memories, and beauty that will always be, no matter what. Thank you again!

  2. Ahh Denise, the last few mornings you could usually find me out in the yard as soon as the sun began to bless us with its wonderful, blessed warmth, and to be precise you would find me under one of my Japanese plum trees stuffing the sweet fruit in my face and having the juice run down into my beard. it is little wonder the bears relish the fruit! Really, we are greatly blessed even in this difficult time. And it is really difficult only in the sense we are deprived of the hectic, busy busy lives we have adapted. Lord, Help us find joy in the little things again. Help us to think of others again. Draw us to you, Again, Amen. Chaz

  3. Hey Chuck, it’s Denise! I can’t believe I missed replying to you. I love your description here, and always your columns that you share with The Apopka Voice. You’re so right – we are greatly blessed, even in these difficult times. Thank you for the reminder!


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