Having grown up in the Salinas-Monterey coastal region of California, our perennial field trip in elementary school was the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. Gazing up into a forest of trees, all we could see were the gentle brown flapping of "leaves" -- not realizing that we were seeing the underwings of thousands of butterflies.
We learned about their seasonal migration from Canada-U.S. to Mexico, and how we were connected to these delicate co-inhabitants of this planet. Monarch butterflies were in our backyards: they were neighbors traveling through our young lives.
|In what ways are you being transformed?|
(Photo: Monarch butterfly caterpillar)
It's been disturbing to read about the Monarch's plight these past years: their numbers have been reduced drastically. Scientists and researchers are worried about whether they will survive. To help, we have been encouraged to plant milkweed in our yards - one of their sources of food. It's not a plant that you want to get attached to! The Monarch caterpillars devour the milkweed leaves to the point you only have stalks left! But the leaves come back quickly, waiting for the next round of caterpillars to ravage the plant again!
A delicate cycle with a fragile balance in our partnership with nature.
|How can you impact the world?|
(Photo: Speckled Wood butterfly, Costa Rica)
I was reminded of this childhood fascination with the Monarchs when traveling in Costa Rica a few years back. Part of our guided tour was through a rain forest sanctuary for butterflies. The local people protect the rain forest and have created an eco-business based on sustaining life. I was impressed at the knowledge and passion our guides had for their neighbors.
I recalled the Butterfly Effect defined in chaos theory: how small changes can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variations across the world.
|Are your relationships webs of inclusions?|
(Photo: spider web, Costa Rica rain forest)
Dialogue and relationships seem to be endangered in today's divided world. We are quick to cling to our opinions and conclusions about others. We label and make decisions based on differences. We don't always protect an environment that feeds patience and understanding. We sever ties with our neighbors when we disagree.
Seeing the brown underwings of the Monarchs as a child did not reveal the true beauty of the orange-black neighbors that graced our yards. Instead, we had to learn the connection between the two, and we had to be willing to plant milkweed to sustain life.
What would happen if we allowed each other room to be transformed, to migrate to new places of understanding? What action can we take -- no matter how small -- that will affect others? How can we be forever touched by the beauty of our relationships -- the ups and downs of both sides of the whole? How can our relationships create webs of inclusion rather than trapping and killing another perspective?
What are ways that we can nourish and sustain our neighbors?
(click on link for website)