One of my favorite stories is about Yellow and Stripe, two caterpillars. The book by Trina Paulus is titled Hope for the Flowers [A tale partly about life, partly about revolution, and lots about hope for adults and others (including caterpillars who can read)]
Yellow is precocious and figures out pretty early on that the key in life is to not be so driven and to simply find time to let go and rest. She does that and, in one of those holy moments, she is transformed into a beautiful yellow butterfly. Stripe is caught up in a competition of sorts with others. He sees them building this huge caterpillar pillar. They are on a mission to secure the secret of life and to be successful. Stripe watches one of his friends jump into the caterpillar pillar, stepping over the heads of others, never looking back, and driven to find his way to the top. He sees other caterpillars jettisoned from the pillar from a place high above and falling to the ground. He is intrigued by this notion to get ahead. Stripe joins the climb but Yellow, now a beautiful butterfly, finds ways to coax him onto a better pathway. He leaves the pillar, follows Yellow’s pantomime of how to hang upside down from a branch, to be still, to let go, to form a chrysalis, and to become his best self as a butterfly.
As we greet the official start of the Holy Season of Summer, I would encourage you to find ways to slow down just a bit, to balance your work commitments as best you can with times for silence and solitude, for leisure and play, and for family and friends. I think the maxim All work and no play makes Jack (Jill) a dull boy (girl) is very true.
One of my favorite Dad moments was to sit side by side with him in lawn chairs in the backyard of my childhood home in the Town of Menasha, right before supper time. I was a young priest at the time, and then a not-so-young priest. My Dad and I would catch up on all the news in our lives since my last visit a week ago. He was always very interested in what was going on with me. In the midst of the conversation, Dad would stop the conversation to notice the call of the cardinal or wren, or make an observation on what was about ready to be picked from the garden, or just how old that evergreen tree was that I planted as a little kid on a National Tree Day many, many Mays ago.
Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, a woman in our Church today whom I greatly respect, says this:
Life is about more than work. Work is useless, even destructive, if its purpose goes awry. What will keep work pristine if not the contemplative eye for truth and the contemplative compass for everything God called good? Recreation is the act of stretching the soul. When we stop the race to nowhere, when we get off the carousel of productivity long enough to finally recognize that it is going in a circle, we reclaim a piece of our own humanity…How do we know for sure that life is meant to be an excursion into joy? Because there is simply too much to enjoy: fishing in a back bay, the view from a mountaintop, wild berries on the hill, a street dance in the neighborhood, a good book, the parish festival, the city culture, and the family reunion (from Illuminated Life by Sister Joan).
May your summer days be chocked full of joy!
Happy Father’s Day to our Dads still with us and to our Dads with the Lord! All our love!