• Maggie Wallem Rowe

When Hope Spreads Its Wings, Ready to Fly



Tuesday, August 10, 2021 Boston, Massachusetts


You’ve experienced it, too.


The knock at the door, the text, the call that folds your knees and snatches your breath. Not an ending, but the prediction of one. 98% chance of the worst possible outcome.

But that sliver of possibility, that 2 %? It’s not zero. It’s not nothing.


And when it comes to divine mathematics, it’s enormous.


So you pitch your tent in the land of hope, and hundreds hike alongside you on the trail leading to a destination marked August 11. Nearly there, now, and somewhere along the way you’ve learned to stop waiting to exhale. Hope fueled by faith and faith by love has propelled you all forward, and you know that whatever happens on 8/11, God is already there, waiting for you to arrive.


“Look, Maggie,” my husband exclaimed last week as we circled the pond at Peace Ridge. “Let your eyes rest on that pink mimosa tree. Hold still - focus. Do you see the movement in the branches?”


I stopped, steadying my sight, and saw them – so many butterflies darting among the blossoms that the tree itself seemed to be swaying despite the dead calm of the day. One floated downwind, touching my hand for a moment before it went wheels up again making lazy circles in the sky.


Nothing was extraordinary about that mimosa tree until suddenly everything was.


Longtime friends offered their Pennsylvania home as a way-station on our trip north this past weekend. Kevin and his daughter raise monarch butterflies, and before our departure yesterday morning, he pressed a clear container into my hands. A twig spanned the opening, with a sea-foam sac the shape of a miniature pickle hanging from it, a tiny band of gold encircling one side.


A chrysalis.


“This is for your grandchildren,” Kevin explained. “Ashley keeps careful records, and this monarch is due to emerge on Wednesday. It’s very special, because less than 10% of eggs survive to become adult butterflies. The pupa will become dark, and you’ll see the shape of wings.”


Author Lucinda Secrest McDowell recently described the metamorphoses that takes place.

“What butterflies think is the end of the world, is actually the beginning of a whole new life.
"After a period of time in the chrysalis, the caterpillar breaks through the covering, first a little hole, then a bigger one, until it finally emerges. During this struggle a secretion is released that gives it the ability to stretch its new wings and fly. Unfortunately, if there were no struggle to emerge, there would also be no soaring.”

The children and their grandparents are waiting tonight, studying the chrysalis carefully, watching for signs that the butterfly is ready to appear.



“Tell them they’ll know it’s a boy monarch if it has black spots on its hindwings,” Kevin said.


Somehow, though, the brother and sister already know that the beautiful creature who will emerge on Wednesday, August 11, is a girl.


Copyright 2021, Maggie Wallem Rowe









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