How to Rescue a Butterfly





butterflies[This post was inspired by a recent dream.]

In my dream, I was traveling with two women somewhere out in nature, we could have been in Yellowstone National Park. We paused at one of the turn-outs to take in the beauty and get some fresh air. I looked over the concrete barrier down towards a tranquil stream. I noticed a gigantic (I don’t just mean huge, I mean, larger than your face) butterfly beating its wings frantically, but going nowhere.

I mentioned this to my two friends – “Look, there’s a butterfly trapped down there! Somehow the tip of its wing is stuck under one of the rocks. We need to save it!” I briefly discussed with the friend to my right how it’s even possible for a butterfly to get a rock stuck on its wing. We came to the conclusion that the swift moving water, and the series of rapids was probably enough momentum to dislodge a rock, and the butterfly just happened to be flying low enough in the exact moment the rock stopped moving to get trapped.

I turned to ask the friend on my left what she thought, and saw that she had climbed over the concrete barrier, and was bouncing down the embankment to the stream. I watched her jump across boulders to rescue this large and precious butterfly. She carefully picked up the rock and the butterfly graciously and gratefully flew away.

But what does it mean?
When I woke up after this dream, I was overcome with emotion. Oftentimes I associate myself with the symbolism of a butterfly, and I felt grateful that at times when I feel low, I have friends who are willing to rescue me. Sometimes removing a rock or a burden can happen in an instant – a positive conversation or a heartfelt hug. For me, personally, lately the ‘rescuing of the butterfly’ has come in the form of validation, acceptance, support, and encouragement from those who have often seen more in me than I was currently seeing in myself.

The symbolism of the dream seemed pretty obvious – hey, we should be grateful to our friends who are willing to help ease our burdens, who remind us that we ought to be free to fly… who can see us in our time of need, and rescue us – even if it’s just reminding us that if we keep beating our wings against the rock, we could cause serious injury. (Believe me, I could go on and on with different interpretations of the meaning behind this dream… but I won’t because if you are reading this, you are capable of doing that yourself.)

But what does it REALLY mean?
Now, you might think that’s a sweet little story, kinda cute, and maybe even a little bit cliche – but it doesn’t end there. A few days later, I was thinking about this dream, and I wondered why I didn’t go rescue the butterfly. In the dream, I was always sitting… sitting in between these two friends. And guess what – I was paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t move. I could not have gotten up, crawled over the barrier, down the embankment, etc. because I WAS THE TRAPPED BUTTERFLY.

The dream took on a new level of meaning for me. I couldn’t have saved that butterfly! In fact, the true significance of the message was to recognize that the butterfly (me) needed saving! But, from what? I stopped to ponder why I felt trapped, what was weighing so heavy on me?

And this is where things got really interesting for me.

I was feeling weighed down by my attachment to the outcome of certain situations. I felt heavy and burdened because I was buying into the idea that I needed to do it all, be everything to everyone, be the leader, and the drill sergeant, and the hall monitor. I was willingly dragging other people’s burdens behind me like a bag of rocks and I hadn’t been able to see what it was doing to my Spirit.

Was I really trapped? Did I really need anyone else to SAVE me? Nope. Not at all. Through my dream I was revealing a truth to myself – that I needed to release myself from my own attachments to just about everything… everything that is not in my control to influence, persuade, convince, affect, change… And as I applied this new insight to my life, I instantly felt lighter – free to fly.

What weighs YOU down?
And now I ask you – what weighs you down? What keeps you feeling trapped, stuck, heavy? In what ways do you perceive you need to be rescued, when what you might need is simply a paradigm shift?

by Janet Louise Stephenson

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Neighbor from Hell





neighbor from hellFrom all appearances, this woman seems to have psychological issues. But could there be something else going on here? See Video.

Courtesy MSNBC.com

Many times when I see a piece of human drama, I wonder what the bigger picture looks like.

For instance, with regard to this video, it would be simple to say that one lady seems to have lost her mind and the other side in this drama is doing what they need to do, protect themselves and their property. Beyond that however, doesn’t it seem odd that a woman with a nice home and a good job who is seemingly normal in other ways, would act this way at all, much less for such an extended time?

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Suicide Questions





live-and-let-liveTragedy struck close to home this week with the painful announcement that a family member of a close friend had committed suicide. At times like these, being empathic feels more like a curse than a blessing. I feel acutely the agony of those he left behind — his wife, his daughters, his parents, and all those who loved him. In their struggle to understand the journey that led him to make this fateful choice, they lean on their faith, which is now amplified by the hope of forgiveness, redemption, and a merciful God.

I want so badly to tap them on the shoulder and politely interrupt their mourning to ask them if they would like some insight into this man.
I wonder if it would provide relief or more turmoil for them to know that their beloved did not share the family’s religious views; that he only pretended to because it was easier for him than facing their condemnation. I wonder if the slightest bit of Unconditional Love — the kind that is not predicated on the fulfillment of a pre-defined role or maintaining a certain set of religious standards — might have given him hope to continue living.

Though his family ponders why he would choose to take his own life, I do not. I understand very clearly the depths of his despair. The fear of his family’s alienation kept him trapped.  He spent his whole life struggling to reconcile the glimpses of his inner knowing with the doctrine that was shoved down his throat. He was expected to swallow every bit of the dogma whether he enjoyed it or not, with no consideration for his own personal preferences.
Yes, I understand the torment of a deeply spiritual man who never felt free enough to explore outside of ‘the box’. I do, however, have an entirely different set of questions:

·    How often within the family unit, does one member suffer silently, fearing the judgment and persecution of those  who claim to love her/him the most?
·    When did our culture start withdrawing love and acceptance as a means of punishing the dissenters?
·    Why is the fear of disapproval so much stronger than the courage it takes to trust our own feelings?
·    Why should anyone feel the need to hide their true self? Especially from their loved ones?
·    Do parents and family members understand how damning their condescension and criticism feels? Do they care?
·    Why does it take something as drastic as a suicide for others to consider an alternate, compassionate approach?
·    Is it possible to prevent others from making a similar choice?
·    What would it take?

When I look at this situation, my heart aches for every person who is affected by his death. The loss of a father, son, brother, and friend is tremendous — and when you add the weight of confusion and guilt, the burden may be quite difficult to bear. We can all stand to learn from their experience.

If you recognize yourself as one who is trapped, I am grateful you are reading this. You need to know that you are not alone. Your thoughts and ideas have a basis outside of the limited trappings of religion and you are valued for your uniqueness. There are others who deeply empathize with you and are willing to offer you encouragement and support as you build up courage to acknowledge your truth.

And for the rest of us — we can do more to reach out to those who feel isolated within their own circle of family and friends. Let us extend unconditional love and acceptance to everyone. I invite you to co-create an environment of safety and trust, so that our friends and family members have full confidence they can explore their own questions without fear of condemnation or any kind of repercussion.

by Janet Louise Stephenson

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