Flying With Broken Wings: A Journey Of Healing, Trust, and Release

Dara LevanBlog4 Comments

I sensed Saturday morning would be moving and unforgettable. But I did not expect the depth and raw intensity that occured in just a few hours. It felt as though we all entered a collective, invisible cocoon. Time seemed to stretch to support and elevate us all.

The Coral Springs Museum of Art was transformed into a serene, healing space for Marjorie Stoneman Douglas teachers. Two extraordinary women, Lois Marino and Robyn Vegas, planned “A Time To Exhale.” Tina Salvesen, who created “The Knot Project,” also spoke about how we can take a soft cord and tie knots to represent our pain.

Writing through healing was the focus of our conversation, which is why I was asked to speak. Every Soul Has A Story has been a cathartic and soothing balm for my own healing. These brave, beautiful souls wept as they hugged one another. I told the teachers how hard it was (and still is!) for me to publicly bare my soul and be vulnerable.

As my eyes connected with theirs, I quickly realized they already understood this concept. They’ve lived it. They weren’t blocked. And they willingly, unabashedly released emotions. Their trust and unfiltered sharing was a lifetime gift I will tuck inside my heart.

I emphasized the importance of going inward and allowing ourselves to feel. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to be ok with not being ok. I’ve truly learned that lesson this year. What we probably want to do is stay busy to avoid the pain. It is a natural defense to surviving the shock and intensity of especially sudden tragedy. Yet the exact opposite is what we need to heal the heart.

Our wilting, wounded flowers need nurturing to rise again. The MSD teachers unknowingly taught me more than I could ever teach them. I am still processing the magnitude of all that transpired. I hope they returned home with a sense of peace and rejuvenation. I know I did. We shared many sacred moments will remain with me forever. (I have omitted some of what occurred to honor the teachers’ privacy.)

We concluded the soulful, unforgettable day of healing with a butterfly release. A delicate monarch kissed my hand with its soft wings before it flew to a nearby tree. I witnessed the pure, child-like wonder of the adults around me. As the butterflies soared higher and farther, my heart expanded with awe, and I slowly exhaled.

Butterflies take my breath away. Their grace and beauty make me feel light, even in the heaviest moments. I did not understand why butterflies entranced me as a young girl. As I have transformed and experienced various stages of life, I now realize the reason this delicate insect infuses me with inspiration.

These lighthearted creatures serve as a visual reminder to release deeply-embedded emotions. They symbolize transformation. The exquisite wings and jovial movements of butterflies boost my heart with hope. I have experienced many life cycles–births, deaths, graduations, and myriad milestones. I am sure you have as well.

The butterfly is a being whose presence has always encouraged me to let go and be present. I find they appear at just the right moment. We cannot force the flow of creativity nor resist when nature takes its course. I’ve seen them when I write and often at funerals and end of life celebrations.

Recently I realized a butterfly cannot see its own intricate, breathtaking wings. It is unaware of its unique and magnificent beauty. I try to live like the butterfly and trust my flight. This isn’t always easy. I listen to my inner voice and flutter toward what feels right in the moment. I try to live with the fluidity and ease of butterflies, flitting near what is most nourishing for my own metamorphosis.

Many poets have written about the spiritual significance of butterflies. Maya Angelou, one of my favorite authors, said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Her words have profoundly penetrated my soul in recent years. I am transforming as I leave the dark behind and fly toward the light. And I am emerging with a lighter, more vibrant spirit.

As I drove home, my phone was quiet but my mind was not. I couldn’t wait to hug my husband and daughter. When I arrived, I immediately took them outside. In their typical curious and impatient fashion, they both interrogated me as they probed about the surprise. They wondered why we were heading to the red-flowering bush in our backyard.

I handed each of them a folded paper. I asked them to open it slowly. My 13-year-old, inquisitive, artistic daughter’s eyes widened with curiosity. Zoe gently coaxed the first butterfly to take flight. Then my husband walked over to the tiny, bright blossoms. He placed the butterfly on a leaf, and it flew away.

Butterflies’ eyes stay open because they do not have eyelids. Yet the irony is that they cannot see their own magnificent wings. It’s as if they live with blind faith in their own beauty. As we watched the butterflies dance, I thought about how important self trust is for all of us, and in particular, my beautiful teenage daughter. She is emerging as she spreads her wings broader every day.

After the fourth butterfly flitted away, Zoe paused and I heard her say, “Come on little one. You can do this. Go ahead now. You’ve got this.” I turned toward her as her small, nurturing hands gently lifted the butterfly. It would not fly. Zoe looked at me as her green eyes grew, and her voice shifted from wonder to a pensive whisper.

“Mommy, the wing is broken. This is so sad. I have to help! How can it fly?” I had a lump in my throat. Zoe adores all living creatures—humans, insects, and animals.

I left her alone with the dainty, wounded butterfly and went back inside. I sat at the kitchen table and realized we are all damaged and imperfect. As she often does, Zoe refused to give up. I watched her with fierce love and wished I could protect her from all pain. But I know I cannot. I also thought about the MSD teachers and how they wished, too, they could be a salve for their students.

All of a sudden, Zoe looked at me and her dimples deepened as she smiled broadly. “It’s flying!!! Look!!! It likes this purple flower.” For the second time today, I exhaled with relief but also inhaled with a renewed sense of faith.

We are all wounded in some way. But we can fly even if our wings are broken. I hope the next time you see a butterfly, you are inspired by its strength, freedom, and flexibility. We do not know what lies ahead. But we can trust our own wings to carry us wherever we need to be at this time. And we can heal the parts of us that may be torn as we fly.

4 Comments on “Flying With Broken Wings: A Journey Of Healing, Trust, and Release”

  1. Oh I loved that one so much! Thanks
    I am on a cruise and tomorrow I hear a lecture on the Monarchs.
    Hope to see u soon.

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