Last night I went to a dance concert by the Stephens College Dance Company. Whenever I attend dance concerts one of two things happen. I either 1) leave scratching my head saying they moved well but I don’t get it; or, 2) get swept away in the imagery, the movement, and wish that I could become a dancer and share life in that magical way.
The performance last night swept me away in every way possible.
One of the pieces they did was called “Butterflies and Hurricanes” and was “Dedicated to the children who survived the Joplin tornado.” A choreographer’s note explained:
“After the Joplin, Mo. tornado in 2011, several children recounted stories of their experiences. Many reported seeing giant butterflies that held them to the ground, and kept them safe and calm. Incredibly, these stories were gathered separately, but seemed to include the same details. Could there be magical butterflies out there, or do they just live in the imagination of children? You decide.”
The power of this idea, this image, spoke to me on many levels. It wasn’t just the amazingly beautiful dance with twirling umbrellas, the lights that brought back memories of the darkening sky of that day in 2011 (the storm that hit Joplin went over us in Independence, KS), or the elegance of the dancer on point wrapped with blue fabric that extended out to form her wings to incredible effect. All of those were powerful, but the story behind it begged for more attention.
I did a little research and found this article called “The butterfly people of Joplin” which goes into details of the events on that day, events that lead to a belief in angels for many people.
Do I think the butterflies were angels? Perhaps. I do know that somehow butterflies, for me at least, reflect the connection between the seen and the unseen, the real and the magical, what we know because we can see it and what we know just because we know.
Once, long ago, I sat on one of the energy vortexes found in Sedona, AZ and asked for a sign, for some guidance, for some clue that I was making good choices in my life. A butterfly landed near me and I thought, perhaps, that it was a spirit guide. I know I have a picture of that moment, but not on this computer.
Since then, I have been drawn to butterflies. Whenever I have the opportunity I go to butterfly houses and spend time watching those magical creatures . I’m always trying to capture their beauty on my camera, but somehow they manage to elude me.
Perhaps their message for me comes from the moment.
I remember as a child seeing the most beautiful butterfly I had ever seen. It was black with tiny dots of color along the edges of its wings, like someone had drawn on it with pastel dots of paint. My guess (now that I can research it) is that it was a swallowtail, although I swear it had more variety of colors on its wings.
Whatever it was, I still remember feeling honored to see it that day long ago.
When we were still in Kansas, I led a play reading of The Bones of Butterflies by Marcia Cebulska, which I wrote about here. Marcia, who is a talented playwright and magnificent woman, went on to work on a special project this past year called The Greensburg Project, which looked at the story of the”survival and journey home” for the town of Greensburg, KS after a devastating tornado destroyed the town. I could not help but think about Marcia and her play “Rooted: The Greensburg Odyssey” last night. For more about the project, visit this site. I was unable to see it, but I so wish I had.
I know this post seems to be wandering all over the place, almost like the flight of butterflies, random and elusive.
But somehow I feel like magic is building around me, if I simply could understand the call of the butterflies, and the message they are trying to send.
I believe in butterflies. Do you?