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.
And always will be.
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 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.