Today my granddaughter and I saw a most unusual sight in the backyard. A red dragonfly landed on what looked like a dead stick, part of a tree I can’t name. The banner picture is not mine. Credit is in the notes. Neither of us had time nor awareness to capture the image. What made it unusual is that we have not seen a red dragonfly, or any dragonfly, in our backyard before. Furthermore, when my Mother died two years ago, so many of us were visited by dragonflies. Let’s face it, this isn’t science. I call it the mystery. So, when we looked out we both said aloud, great grandma, and we were delighted with the little skip of joy that arose in our hearts.
This gentle experience is only meaningful for us. If you saw the dragonfly, it may be just a dragonfly. But when we see one, we think of my Mother. I thought about the different ways we make meaning and how something as simple as this little event can make a day bright. And I remembered: I associate my former husband, who died, with eagles who seemed to gather that day. And at a friend’s sudden death, who loved owls, how one showed up at the entrance to her gathering and stayed for the entire service.
I find it curious and wonderful and mysterious how we can make meaning out of events that have no roots in what we call science but that are somehow healing.
When I went through cancer a red rowboat was my talisman, so to speak. I can’t explain why; my artist friends painted red boats and captured beautiful images of red boats and I simply found solace in my red boats, large and small. In fact, I have one, close at hand that is dear to my heart. The photo doesn’t do it justice but you get a sense of it.
And I had folded cranes, 1000 of them, folded by a friend and her friends.
These things that we give meaning to don’t have magical powers but they can be deeply meaningful to us. And because of that, just like the dragonfly today, they can lift our spirits, even remind us that we are bold and brave and can do courageous things when we need to.
I have a special box of candles, a gift from my son and daughter-in-law. Every Friday I light one for a faraway friend who is ill. They are traditional Japanese botanicals, made from plants since 1892, and it is one way for me to pause and focus for a few moments on my friend.
These small things have no conflict with science. Rather they exist in the realm of healing, not cure.
I suspect that you too have some small items, or rituals, nature and otherwise that you view with tenderness. They matter.
When I think of the dragonfly, it has been about 18 months since I saw my last one and I may never see one again. But today, I received the perfect gift. The unexpected visit from a red dragonfly, in the company of my granddaughter Sophie.
2:) Small things mean a lot, and in the end, there are no small things.
3:) Two lines from a Rainer Maria Rilke poem that give us pause for thought. “Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us; mostly, they are passed on unopened.”
4:) “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” Rachel Carson
5:) Thank you for taking the time to read these musings. I enjoyed telling you about it. See you next week. Warmest wishes, Trudy