Set out early, the sky scattered with lacey morning cloud, a gentle, cool breeze gave no hint of the heat that would unfold with the day. A horse over the fence gave a quiet snort of recognition as I passed by, thought I might listen to music, but decided instead to be ‘present’ to the morning. A brown speckled butterfly fluttered past, I reached for my camera, but it was gone. The sun began to light up the clouds, the only sounds disturbing the silence were my footsteps, the early morning birdsong and occasional call of cattle.
Walked on and caught the fragrance of honeysuckle as I passed trees in blossom, the butterflies, two now, darted back and forth, and were gone. The odd vehicle passed by, felt gratitude for nowhere pressing to go, the coolness of the breeze brushing my skin. Walked past an old hall, its paint peeling, wondered if it was in use, did people still have time to gather in local halls? Kept walking, past a sign on an old gate “Private Property – Keep Out,” the house was not visible through the tangle of overgrown bushes. Walked further, the bushes thinned to reveal a disused tennis court, its weathered surface being reclaimed by grass and weeds. I thought of the pleasure it must have afforded those once welcomed to play on its court!
Crossed over the narrow lane and walked passed a tidy country home and garden, visible from the road, cars in the garage. All the windows tightly closed and enclosed by blinds. Kept walking, brown butterflies darting back and forth, passed the tidy garden the bush took over once again, allowing glimpses of a bygone era, a faded and rusted sign nailed to a tree advertised a welding business. The bush, tight and protective revealed only a glimpse of the rooftop of a house from which rose a flag pole, the Australian flag, weathered and ripped in half fluttered forlornly in the breeze.
Turned to walk home, past the torn flag, remains of a rusting shed came into view, its sagging structure becoming one with the bush, picturesquely fronted by dandelion flowers and backed by rolling green hills. Further on, a large tree next to the road revealed the collapsing remains of a child’s tree house, a reminder of the passing of time. The clouds began to give way to the blue morning sky, a brown butterfly swept past my face, so close this time that I gasped as I reached for my camera, yet again it was gone. Noticed the Welcome Swallows out in the morning sunshine, some swooping back and forth, others gathering on the overhead power lines. The brown butterfly came into view again, I watched it with delight as it gently touched from flower to flower only to disappear once again.
Arrived home and pondered the many times that I might have pulled down the shutters, put up the ‘Keep Out’ sign and missed the joy of others in my life. I thought of the rapid passing of time, the seasons of life, of butterflies and swallows, of freedom, I decided to allow myself more time in the future, just to be ‘present’ to life and its gifts.
Image by Mary Robson
Mary Robson is a Spiritual Director at the Faber Centre of Ignatian Spirituality. She is a graduate of the Arrupe Program and has a degree in Theology and Master of Arts (Spiritual Direction). Her interest is in the transformative process of Ignatian Spirituality in the ordinary moments of everyday life.