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Eyes of wonder


To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
— William Blake

This week has been all about butterflies and seeing the world through the eyes of a child!  Although I have never read the book  Zorba the Greek  I have often heard people mention the extract below …

I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain.

It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.  (from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis)

Well this week, while walking through the garden with Chris (who is 2yrs and 4 months old) we came upon a butterfly standing quietly on the wall, unmoving even as we got close.  I slowed down thinking this is strange, butterflies often fly away.  Then close by I saw another butterfly trying to get out of its cocoon.  It was such a moment because it was the first time I was witnessing this amazing event.  And I figured that the other butterfly had also just come out of its cocoon, and was just standing still, wings fully spread out, before it flew away.

It was a slow process, and I found myself drawn back to that part of the garden all afternoon – and struggling with the same thoughts as Zorba – should I help?  You see one of its wings just did not seem to stretch out, and 6 hours later it was still trying to get out!  The next morning I woke up early, got dressed in a hurry (my husband asked if I had somewhere I was rushing to, and I said no..). And before I could eat my breakfast I was outside, near the wall to see if it had managed to leave – and it was still there, flapping its wings, one still a little crumpled.  I went back in, and as I was eating breakfast, I wondered, ‘Is that good for a butterfly that is trying to get out of its cocoon?’ I tried to google information but there wasnt much help…

This particular butterfly struggled for more than 30 hours.  I think it might have died in the end because that one wing never really spread out properly.  And it made me think that important things usually take a lot of time and care to come to their full being.  And sometimes they die because of all sorts of circumstances – and that we must really pay attention to what is trying to be born, and help only where we can and must – rather than where we assume we should.

That butterfly did not make it.  But a few days later Chris ran away from me to the same area of the garden.  I came walking after him, and as I rounded the corner I found him standing there with his finger stretched out and he said, ‘Look Mama, a fafly!’  And that butterfly stayed on his finger for quite a while as he walked around the garden, even flapping his hand like wings!  Be open to what comes to visit you…

With a butterly on hand


About Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa

I am a facilitator, coach and storyteller/storyfacilitator, and use story, song, art and dialogue to facilitate change and development in individuals and organisations. Over the years I have become aware of how I have used stories to make sense of my life - and of the ways in which we all use story, consciously and unconsciously. Stories - myths, folktales and personal stories - are used to teach, to bind, to questions, to hold ambiguities, to explore, to hold up a different picture, to bring together and also to hold back, to suppress, divide and destroy. With this understanding I have built story into my work. I use it to make conscious the stories people and organisations tell themselves that either support or hinder their growth. I use them as an opening, an invitation to begin to speak about the difficult things - to name 'the elephant' in the room. I use them as an invitation to people to dream of possibilities - and I also teach people to tell and to listen to stories because without a listener there is no story. I was born in Uganda and lived there until I was in my early teens. Since then have lived in various parts of East and Southern Africa - and have been involved in development work in Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and the UK. I have also coached clients in South Africa, Namibia, the UK, Belgium, Israel and USA.

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