In 1991 I prepared my first perennial garden. It is a large circle that was based on the concept of the medicine wheel. The process initiated ceremony to honor the earth. As a result, the garden evolved, taking on a “life of its own” so to speak, as I listened with my heart to the whispering of nature. Family, friends and acquaintances were invited to plant a flower they had a particular connection with. The garden manifested itself as a “giving garden”. The flowers would bloom and without delay would be cut and arranged in vases to give away.
One year later, a storm raged through the area decisively uprooting numerous trees on our property. I did not understand how the fury of the wind would later present an opportunity where one day there would be a sanctuary for monarch butterflies.
In 1998 I accepted a position as the spiritual counselor for a hospice program. I looked for direction from patients by discovering what they were experiencing in their lives, as well as what brought them meaning and purpose. One particular patient was an avid gardener. After seeing a picture of a monarch butterfly in a magazine, she inquired about their life cycle. That evening my research began. The unexpected journey that started with a caterpillar in a jar for a dying woman subsequently grew to become a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. Today there are butterfly bouquets to be given away, along with flowers that remain in the gardens that enfold the ground all-around me.
I keep a catalog with names. They may be individuals who are undergoing change in their lives requesting that a caterpillar be reserved to symbolize their transformation, but in most cases they are friends and family members who request a monarch butterfly be named in loving memory of someone who has died.
So many people throughout our world experience tragedy and loss, that at times one chrysalis will mark an actual event.
As soon as a caterpillar begins its process of transformation, I place a name tag tied with golden thread near the chrysalis. I record the date when each caterpillar formed their chrysalis, where, and the date the butterfly emerges. Since I began this project, hundreds of monarch butterflies have taken flight moving on to bless others with their grace and beauty.
The “Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary” serves as a symbol for freedom which results from the process of transformation. We are given opportunities to experience the miracle of metamorphosis throughout our lives.
It is a gentle reminder how the essence of life has guided me from a jar to a sanctuary.
Copyright for these photos belongs to Patricia Robinson Trapp
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