I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Carol Delmonico’s reflection, “The Child’s Way.”
The More Than Human World is my Abbey. The sense of our sacred interconnectivity is awakened as I contemplate and cultivate reverence for all living beings.
Our tan 1984 Volvo wagon pulls into the dirt parking lot at Shevlin Park.
It’s early May,1994. My three year old daughter Phoebe is sitting in the backseat, beginning to unbuckle herself from her carseat.
I open the back door and scoop all twenty five pounds of her up in the air and spin her around. She lets out a squeal of delight and I gently place her on the ground beside me.
I reach into my red backpack containing two apples, a water bottle and some extra clothes. I pull out her flowered pink and yellow sunhat, and tie it under her chin.
We are on our Monday morning contemplative adventure in one of our, still, favorite places in the world. Ours is the only vehicle in the parking area.
The light filters through the massive Ponderosa trees that stand quietly where the forest meets this human created clearing.
It’s just shy of eleven and the light in this canyon is almost overhead.
The scent of fresh buds and pine boughs fill the air.
We have this peaceful adventure memorized in our bones, as the sounds of forest meet the vocal silence of two humans.
She and I turn onto the path that leads to Tumalo Creek. The canopy of Ponderosa and Tamarack trees sway in the light breeze, and the blue sky blazes above.
They are the magical guardians guiding our hearts on this deep and quiet amble.
I scoop Phoebe up a second time, to press our noses to the puzzle piece like, burnished reddish-orange, bark of a majestic Ponderosa.
We both take a deep inhale and breathe in, and then another.
The vanilla-y caramel scent wafts through our bodies.
Clinging to the hairs beneath our noses.
I can sense the satisfied sigh we each make without audibly hearing it.
Phoebe slips from my arms to the soft sandy forest floor, and reaches for my left hand. Her small fingers entwine in mine as we meander to the curve in the path that gives us our first clear view of the Creek.
We pause to take in the dappled light waltzing across the rushing water. The wooden walking bridge in the distance. The tall green grasses waving on the edge of water and dry land.
We breath the creek in, the cold energizing scent of clear water, until, almost in unison, our bodies turn right and we meander on.
We follow our feet and find our way back onto the trail that curves as the creek does, the next few turns invisible in the moment.
We pass the wild rose bushes, freshly in bloom, and hear the singing of unseen song sparrows in the dense newly green bushes.
As we reach the next bend the path widens into an open space. To our left is our favorite beach. A sandy, pebbly patch about ten feet wide, a crescent moon shaped curl.
As we get closer and our eyes focus, we pause and stare.
I find my mouth opened in surprised delight! Phoebe’s hand squeezing mine.
The beach and shoreline are filled with hundreds of quarter size translucent baby blue butterflies.
Phoebe’s bright blue eyes reach for my hazel green ones. We still haven’t spilled a word.
The marvel of what we behold has meandered to our lips, and with wide toothy grins we step forward to get a closer look.
We pause a short distance from them and each sink into a squat so our eyes are in line with the cloud of blue motion.
Hundreds of them are swirling and twirling just above the water, and hundreds more flutter on the beach.
We breathe, we watch, we become more still.
After a few minutes I notice out of the corner of my eye Phoebe has lifted her left arm up.
It sits there for a minute or two, bare in the late morning light, and then I watch as one sweet beauty of a butterfly floats onto her outstretched hand.
It flaps gently and then grows still.
I can sense my daughter’s eyes both on the butterfly and glancing my way to see if I am witnessing what she is.
I nod almost imperceptibly so she knows I am with her.
Our glowing eyes rest gently together on this magnificent living being.
Breathing inter-being in.
Loving for the moment.
Still as we can be.
After what feels like hours but is more likely a few more minutes, the tiny winged creature lifts her spindly legs off Phoebe’s small hand and flies off to join her community flitting above the water’s edge.
Phoebe turns towards me, her blue eyes wide and sparkelin. There is both a deep stillness and a faraway dreamy look about her as she rises up to standing and comes over and slips her small body between my legs. Sitting down cross legged on the moist ground she leans back against me.
We are both content to be still.
To contemplate the more than human world for as long as it takes for us to merge our senses and be the butterfly.
Our scapulas becoming wings, our bodies floating above the creeks sandy crescent shore.
For a moment, a day, eternity.
Phoebe is now 30. Together and apart we share this contemplative journey with the more than human world.
Carol Delmonico co-creates guidebooks to bring us back to our interconnected relational selves. She mentors clients using the guidebooks, deep listening, and a multitude of well-being and resilience practices. Carol resides in Central Oregon among the Ponderosa trees and wide open skies. You can learn more about her at WonderupRising.com