When I was a little girl I used to love to watch the butterflies, particularly monarchs, as they gracefully swooped in large numbers through our backyard in late August. There seemed to be hundreds throughout the day passing through. I viewed them as treasures in the air, like falling coins or surprises of chocolate that came, unexpected. When my brothers and sisters and I were growing up Mom did not home school us, but she would have been perfect at if she had thought about it, since she always made sure we kids were provided with the tools necessary to explore. We had magnifying glasses and binoculars at our disposal, and armed with butterfly nets my sisters and I chased down our lovely prey, capturing them into glass jars to admire for a few hours and then let go.
I didn’t understand why those butterflies were not present much during summer and then suddenly appeared near its wane. “Why do the monarchs come through now?” I asked my mother one warm August afternoon as hundreds seemed to pass through, steadily, and ever so quickly. She replied, “The monarchs migrate to warmer places when the fall is about to come. They go where the flowers are.”
Go where the flowers are.
What a lovely thought, I realized, even back then. Isn’t that a wonderful philosophy for life? To go where the flowers are is to look for the best, to seek the beautiful, to search for the fragrant, and to actively pursue what is life-sustaining. When we turn from a cold comment or troublesome situation we instinctively are ‘going where the flowers are’. When we refuse to allow life’s troubles to keep us down, we are ‘going where the flowers are’. I have thought about that imagery often.
Today I teach my own children at home. Sometimes there are days so challenging I want to throw in the books. Children slink off between subjects. The baby is uncharacteristically uncooperative. The math lesson produces tears in an otherwise enthusiastic student. My own passion to teach wanes. It is days like these we chuck the school books and head outside. I give the children field guides, binoculars and magnifying glasses, much like my mother did when I was young. The children explore the field, and feel the sun on their faces. I just breathe in the fresh air. It’s not copping out to take a break, to seek beauty and rest. It’s okay, in fact good, actually imperative, to “go where the flowers are”.