Bowing to a Butterfly, by Alison Lewis

As I sit writing this journal, the last for the semester, I can’t seem to focus. I hear random snippets of voices from the parking lot below, see people walking in and out with paper bags bulging over with colorful packages of unhealthy snack foods- Lays potato chips, Cheetos, Crush Orange soda, Pretzels, etc. My stomach growls. I haven’t eaten since pre-game meal, which reminds me that Drexel just beat us by 10 points. We should have won that game, why did we lose? It’s not like the balls were tampered with- another team in our conference was just caught red handed using men’s balls to win their game. Brrrrring! My train of thought is yet again interrupted: mom is calling. Picking up the phone, I start to think of the day before, when I walked on a new trail at the park. It led me through what felt like unchartered territory- sporadic bushes and vines sprouting out of the ground every which way, and trees doing likewise. I remember the excitement I felt in anticipation for the untamed nature I hoped to encounter. The sky was a warm blue, but the air was cold enough to freeze the water of a thin stream flowing quietly to the left of me. I saw two falcons gliding above me. Their outstretched wings were exposing a fluffy white underbelly, as if to invite us ground dwellers for a hug, if only we could reach them. I slowed my walk to a shuffle, trying to marvel at their gift of flight, only to feel the frozen kiss of winter blow across my cheeks, through my chest and in my toes.

 

The escalating pitches of my mother’s voice pull me back to reality. I don’t know what she’s talking about, but the memory of the birds replays itself in my head. It reminds me of a chapter in Scott Sanders’ Earth Works, where he explains why he bows. He writes, “ that what we call nature, this all-embracing power and pattern, fills [him] with joy and inspires [him] to act with profound respect for all that lives.” It is through his essays, mediation, and quiet observations that he attempts to reciprocate the gifts he has received from this entity called ‘nature.’ Simply put, he is a little pea in comparison to the world in which he lives, and just the unassuming disposition of his reality is so marvelous that he can only attempt to show his gratitude- never quite succeeding, but willing to die trying.

 

I might be off a little on this interpretation, but I can empathize with him on how even the smallest of details- like a soaring falcon- deserves a bow of approbation. I have never seen a tornado, tsunami, or even an uncontrolled fire in person, but the things I have seen never cease to amaze me into still awe. I could stare at the fluttering, iridescent feathers of a Rhionaeschna mutate dragonfly, or listen to the twinkling chirrups of a wood thrush, for hours, just mesmerized by their perfection. Which is funny, because in each little bundle of nature, nothing is perfect, yet because it fits so well together, because there is a sort of balance that levels out each deficit, what I see becomes a paradox of sorts: perfect imperfection.

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