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Labor Day & The Dragonfly

Just the slightest ruffle of a breeze . . . the late afternoon, late summer green branches shimmer and dance slightly. 80 degrees and mildly humid, nearly perfectly clear blue sky. A few yellow leaves beginning to float down when the breeze blows. Sun a little lower in the sky, but brilliantly luminescent shining through endless shades of green and casting green light . . . My favorite dragonfly is cruising about the bed of bee balm – formerly brilliant red flowers, now dried and brown, forming seed pods. She, (maybe a damselfly) swoops and soars, saying hello for the day. I smile.

A few weeks ago she was trapped in my upstairs bathroom, between two window panels that look out on the front gardens. I heard the frantic buzzing and went to find out who was freaking out. She was madly animated – flapping against the glass of the back window pane, and searching from one corner of the glass to the other for an escape route – after several minutes, she would collapse down to the bottom corner, and seem to give up and resign herself to her imprisoned fate. I sat and just contemplated the whole scene. It was distressing. Dragonflies are one of my totem creatures. Ever since I can remember, they show up everywhere I go. They come alone, in pairs, and in whole herds, and often come to rest on my shoulders, my head, my arms . . . I regard them as guides, messengers, and friends.

How in the world am I going to get her out of there? There was only a tiny space between the two panes – she had obviously gone through it once to get herself in such a spot – so I figured she could fit through there again. I tried opening the bottom window nearly all the way, so the space between them was shortened – thinking she might be encouraged to “look up” and see the way out – instead of only focusing on the “light” outside.

My friend Ellen Bain, who was visiting for a few days, came in to the bathroom to see what I was sighing about. We figured we needed something stiff, narrow enough to fit through the space between the window frames, and with a soft edge could serve as something for the dragonfly to sit on and not be injured. Then the idea would be to try and get “under” her and “scoop” her up toward the crack between the windows. Ellen came up with the idea of a wire hanger, covered in paper. I slid it though the space between the panels, waited for Ms. Damselfly to come out of her corner and flap around again, and then dropped the side of the hanger down and came carefully up under her. It was tense, focused, prayerful work. I talked to her a lot. Her little feet set down on the paper. Oh my God, thank you. Now “Hang on, I’m going to get you out. Don’t freak out, but we are going UP toward that little opening – do you see it??”

After a few failed attempts, during which time she was becoming more and more tired, and I was afraid she was going to die, I made one more energetically focused attempt. “Please hang on. It isn’t your time to die. I can get you out. Just breathe.” Ha. I had to laugh. I was telling a dragonfly to breathe. Well, couldn’t hurt.

She must have heard me. She hung on and didn’t drop off. I brought her up through the narrow space into freedom. I cupped my hands over her, so she wouldn’t fly off, but she was exhausted and not going anywhere. I grabbed a water glass off the window pane and put it over the top of her, then slid a piece of paper between the glass and the window glass. Ahah! I had her now.

I carried her outside and sat down at my picnic bench in the front yard. I uncovered the glass and tipped it on it’s side. She slid out into my hand. I just held her in my open hand for several minutes. She was dazed and panting, but not moving. I coaxed her on to a dried twig and then moved her to a branch of a pretty big bugbane plant I had in a pot on the table. And there she sat – for the next many minutes. I spent quite a bit of time talking to her. “It’s a beautiful day – and there are many more coming in the next few weeks – glorious late summer days when you can buzz around and enjoy my gardens and the cool Berkshire mountain air. It isn’t time for you to die, I just know it. Just sit and rest, now. Recover. Get your Self settled and reassured. You will be OK! I know you will fly off soon, but please be sure to come back and LET ME KNOW YOU ARE OK!!! Bring your mate and friends, but make sure to come back.”

At that point I’d been watching and talking with her for about 10 minutes, so I went inside to let her rest and recover. About 30 minutes later I came out and looked at the bugbane. She was gone. I started to cry I was so grateful and happy. I called out to her again, “Don’t forget to come back and let me know how you are doing – I’d love to meet your mate!!”

The next afternoon, around the same time – about 4:30 – I was standing outside near my gardens talking with the UPS guy. Then I saw her – flitting happily over the bee balm and the gardens. All of a sudden she flipped around and came flying straight at me, then proceeded to zoom around my head 5 or 6 times. The UPS guy, knowing nothing of the preceding day, commented, “Oh my God, she must like you!” She then proceeded to dazzle us both with an aerial display of dexterity and speed. She swooped and turned and soared and LANDED ON THE BUGBANE PLANT. An hour or so later, she returned with her mate, and then the next day with a whole bunch of dragonflies.

Miracles happen every day – everywhere – you just need to pay attention and put your efforts into reducing suffering for all beings everywhere.