How to Rescue a Butterfly
[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?