I never used to pay much attention to butterflies, or flowers. There have always been a few flowers that are favorites: Roses of course, Peonies... And non-flowering plants like Hostas, Russian Sage for its smell, Cedar, large grasses.

When my mother passed, I was trying to think of a gift to bring. My wife took photos and made notecards, something we have often done, which people like. But I got out my pastels for the first time in ages, and drew/painted the butterfly in the profile picture. As a model, I used a large balsa wood one that we brought back from Peru. I traced the shape on paper and started filling it in, then surrounded it with color. To me, the picture suggests Joy, which I imagine is what most people experience some time after passing. I was also thinking of beauty, and in some way, freedom. My wife said that for most people, the butterfly is a symbol of Transformation. This was sort of a shock when she said it, as it is so appropriate. So I made the picture with oil pastels (so it would travel better than chalk pastel), which I had never used before, and displayed it in my parents' house, and at the service, then gave it to my father when I left.

Joy, Beauty, Transformation.
This is it.

So since then I have been taking photos of butterflies (and flowers), and preparing to do more pastel work. But I had already chosen my name months before, because Butterfly is the symbol of Hetaira, and I had spent the past year understanding that unrealized aspect of my personality. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32) Now I understand things that I have felt all my life but which never made sense before. Now I can stand up and be myself - a relational, caring person - in truth because I know how I am made. I have many aspects, but any that are in shadow will be like a ball and chain. But if it is the truth of me, only my lack of understanding and inability to convey my self to others can stop me. Once I know myself, then I can open to Joy, regardless of what other people might think or do. It's like what Hallah al Mansour said.
I invite you to know yourself, and share that. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says: "If you bring forth what is in you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not, it will destroy you." Bring out what doesn't belong so you can release it, and bring of your essence so that you can save others: freeing them. Start by example. You will find Joy, and freedom, through Transformation.

In the meantime, God made us to "enjoy His being through many selves", and made the world for us to en-joy. It's all around us!

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