Seeing the Miracles in Disappointment
Sometimes in life – heck, a lot of times in life! – we get frustrated with the way things are going. We have it in our minds that life should be one way, and instead, life looks anything but that vision at our present moment in time. “What have I done wrong?” we wail at the Universe. “I’m a good person, why aren’t things working out like I expect them to?” If you’re like me, most of the times there is no answer. I’ll try to console myself with the sayings “Everything happens for reason,” and “Things happen in Divine timing,” but in truth I’m just frustrated and feeling forsaken and unloved.
I usually wind up turning the situation around, swallowing my disappointments and trying to ignore the hollowness and ache of unworthiness deep inside me until I can be grateful for what I do have. Typically, this involves a healthy dose of nature. Nothing turns my mood around faster than observing all of the miracles around me every day in the form of the plants, insects, and creatures roaming this Earth!
Those who know me know that I raise butterflies. It started out as a love for tabouli and a desire to make my own. I dutifully set out a few parsley plants and waited for them to grow. They did indeed grow. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed parsley! One day, I came out to find my parsley plants covered in caterpillars. At first, I wasn’t too happy with this outcome. But, after doing some research, I determined that the caterpillars were those of the Black Swallowtail butterfly and I felt honored to provide them with a source of food. From that point on, I kept parsley plants for the butterflies so that they could leave their eggs and start the cycle anew each year.
Each summer I would eagerly await the arrival of my butterflies and their eggs. I planted more plants they enjoyed such as rue, dill, and fennel in addition to the parsley, and filled my garden with rich nectar sources. When the baby caterpillars emerged, I would bring them inside and feed and care for them until they made their chrysalises. Those that emerged from the chrysalis during the season were released back into the world, and those that decided they wanted to wait until next year to see the world overwintered inside my house so as to protect them from predators and the cold weather.
This had been an annual cycle for me for several years until 2016. I waited and waited all summer long in 2016, but no caterpillars appeared. To say I was crushed is putting it mildly. I was heartbroken. The fact that several other people I knew found caterpillars when they hadn’t ever had any before seemed like salt in the wound. As pleased as I was for them, I felt my own lack of caterpillars keenly. One person asked me to “adopt” some almost full grown caterpillars late in the season that then overwintered with me. It helped to ease the ache, nevertheless I was still very sad over not having any of my own to raise and care for.
Fast forward to now, Spring 2017. In an unusual twist, I found five baby caterpillars on my rue recently. This is highly unusual since in years past I haven’t had caterpillars until the late summer. My heart was filled with joy! I hadn’t been forsaken after all! It seemed the Universe did still want me to take care of and protect these tiny members of the natural world. Once I’d come down from my euphoric state, it occurred to me that there must have been a reason that I hadn’t had any caterpillars to raise in 2016. Almost as soon as I had formed that thought, the answer came to me. In 2016 I’d been helping a friend through a really tough time, one that required lots of nurturing and support in addition to all of my normal hectic daily routines. With that realization, my whole perspective changed. I’m still sad that I didn’t have my own caterpillars to raise that year, but I’m grateful that I was given the time to focus on nurturing someone else who greatly needed it. Plus, I was still provided with some of my little ones to adopt at a stage in their lives when they wouldn’t require much from me. Truly, it was the best way the whole situation could have unfolded, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
As a result of this little life lesson, the next time something doesn’t turn out the way I had hoped, I plan to stop and take a moment to thank the Universe for whatever else is in store for me in the future that might not have happened if I had gotten whatever it was that I had been hoping for. Because I’m sure that whatever it is will be just what is needed.