My friend, whose husband died last December, is going through her year of firsts. The first Christmas without Dave. The first birthday without him. The first Easter… the first wedding anniversary…. Then came the first Father’s Day without the father of her children. She was washing the dishes at the kitchen sink, thinking about him and the sadness of his not being there as she gazed out of the window. A butterfly caught her eye as it flit by then returned to rest upon some flowers outside the window pane. And she wondered, “Dave, is that you?”
She does not believe in reincarnation. She believes in one life to live and eternal joy in Heaven. But, still, the wondering arose from the depths of her emotions and tickled her mind. Then, more soberly, she began to think that, perhaps, her husband had sent her this beautiful butterfly as a way of saying hello, to let her know that he is still with her, spiritually, and to make her happy.
My friend wanted to brush aside any seriousness of beliefs as she told me this story, not sure whether or not these thoughts would be considered as some kind of blasphemy in Catholic teaching. Her husband had been a deacon, as well as an engineer, and the theological world had always seemed very clear to him, while, to her, the only thing that was clear was kindness and its divine goodness. She had always said that he was a kind man. Now, with him gone, she turns to others to answer her theological questions – like our pastor, or the kindly woman who runs our parish prayer group, or even me. …And what was I to say?
I don’t know what the soul of a person can or cannot do after the body of the person has died. As a true believing Catholic, I don’t believe in reincarnation – what I do believe in is one life to live… one life to live eternally. I also truly believe, as I told my friend, that God speaks to us through beauty. This isn’t a formulized tenet of faith to which I have subscribed, but, rather, a deep conviction that I have always personally held – though I had never articulated it in words until that moment. My spoken response to my friend’s grief, joy, and wonder came from deep within my heart and opened my own mind a little more to the Mysteries of God.
Why couldn’t God send one of His tiny, winged creatures the widow’s way to cause her soul to marvel and her heart to be comforted by an awareness of everlasting love? Divine Love is ever present – my friend received it through the living body, mind, heart, and soul of her husband when he lived and breathed with us upon the earth… and the infinite depths of that personal love cannot die. The senses and the heart are touched by beauty and the soul’s memory is stirred… the gentle wing beat of a butterfly can remind us that we are intimately and infinitely loved.
© 2014 Christina Chase
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