Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Faith in the Form of a Dragonfly

Synchronicity is back. Clearly, I am on the right track, doing what I'm supposed to be doing, meeting who I'm supposed to be meeting. What other explanation is there for all these dragonfly encounters?

That's right. At the risk of sounding eerily psycho-spiritual and scaring off those who do not believe in the power of flying insects to guide one's life, I will tell you: I believe the dragonflies are watching over me. It makes as much sense as anything else, I think.

After not seeing one for a while, a dragonfly appeared overhead at the Fall Festival at my sons' school, an apparition that alleviated some of the pain of losing the pie contest:) At least I knew I was supposed to be at the festival, if not as a winner, at least to show.

Then, the other day, at my friend's house after the marathon, I saw she had a dragonfly picture up in her kitchen, over the sink.

I looked at her quizzically. "Are you into dragonflies?" I asked, hesitantly, somewhat afraid.

"Yeah, I don't know why..." she said. "I just really like them."

"Me too," I said. "Have we talked about this?"

She looked at me quizzically back. "Have we? I don't know."

My friend's unwitting interest in the dragonfly, like my own, like many others I have encountered over the last year, began to intrigue me. As usual when something intrigues me in this day and age, I turn, of course, to Google. Bleary-eyed from waking up, as I do now, in the dead of night, I typed in "Women and Dragonflies." I know, I know. I've been told for years I no longer have to type "and" into a search, but it seems wrong not to:)

No surprise, there were a number of entries I found where women had become similarly convinced of the dragonfly as spirit guide. To wit my kindred spirit at blessed2bestressed.blogspot.com. A few years back, this fellow blogger set out, like me, to determine the reasoning behind her developing fascination with anything dragonfly.

She found some answers. Where else but Wikipedia? Dragonflies, she reported, have taken on a mystical and magical symbolism in part because of how their beautiful shell colors get reflected and refracted in the sunlight. Thus, she quoted, "The dragonfly has come to be an image that inspires us to not only learn to practice the shedding and mirroring of light in our own lives, but to learn to see when others are doing it, too!"

At this point, I get the chills. It makes perfect sense. The dragonfly has allowed me to see what others are doing and appreciate it and give them gold stars!

She went on to report that dragonflies certainly aren’t limited to women, that in Native American astrology, there is a strong belief that each person has a totem animal spirit that serves as their guardians and guides through certain phases of life. Often, an individual would have many different totems throughout life, some for just a time, and some for their entire lives. And one of these totem spirits was the spirit of the dragonfly. It would adopt men and women, young and old. The dragonfly spirit, she said, means you must "consciously make an effort to express your hopes, dreams, needs and wishes."

Well, there it was. I have always, since my early days in Arizona, surrounded by Native American culture, desired a totem animal spirit. I can imagine a dragonfly whittled out of wood in my own personal totem pole to stand as a reminder to express myself nearly every day in this blog and in other ways.

Another site, called DragonflyMinistries.com, offers a more classically religious interpretation of salvation by dragonfly. There,a woman who runs spiritual Christian-based retreats for women tells the story of praying to God back in 2001 to send her a dead dragonfly as a sign. And then, days later, she saw one on the ground, lifeless.

She wrote that, "Over the next months, I would find dragonflies on days when I was feeling blue or when my heart was soaring with joy. Sometimes the dragonflies would be lifeless, sometimes they would be in flight. For me, this beautiful insect became a symbol of God's love, and brought me comfort in knowing that He was watching over and protecting me."

Cool. Weird. Faith is a funny, funny thing. It comes in so many different forms.

Feeling connected to these diverse women whose lives I knew about only via the World Wide Web, I went about my morning's business, bringing the boys to school and heading to coffee at Parco with a mission to make it a productive Monday, to hopefully find some interesting souls on whom to shed the light of a gold sticky star.

It seemed chaotic in the cafe, a couple of kids taking the opportunity to bounce around and scream intermittently. I cannot complain as I have two screamers of my own, but I did put on my headphones, zoning out until they left. Then, I took them off and was immediately rewarded with a killer quote coming from a very enthusiastic woman at the counter.

"I am out of here!" she sang. "I'm done with New York for a while, done with the whole 'artist' thing, I'm going to get my master's in Human Rights, in Italy, then going to stay in Europe for a while!" She danced as she told the barrista the tale, flapping her arms excitedly, or maybe I just imagined that, as it seemed to fit her exuberant tone.

"Wow" I said, "You totally deserve this!" I got up from the table to hand her a big gold star.

"Oh my God!" she said, "thank you! I'm going to put it right here," she said, pointing next to the "Free Aung San Suu Kyi" message on her blue t-shirt. "That's awesome!"

She sat down and we began to talk, about her work with persecuted monks under the brutal military dictatorship of Burma in which they have continued for 50 years to rape women and children, about Aung San Suu Kyi, who won a free election in 1992 and was summarily jailed.

I told her about my new French roommate who works with Human Rights Watch, about a friend who works for the National Democratic Institute running free elections in Asia.

"Wow," she said, "I was totally supposed to meet you!" I smiled. No doubt.

She was excited about leaving New York, about pursuing her passion in Human Rights. Her passion for acting had proven a hard path though she had just landed a voiceover job and, as we sat, got a call for an audition, a lucky break she credited to the gold star, touching it in appreciation and awe.

She shook her head. "Sometimes it's hard to accept that where you are is where you're supposed to be," she said. "I try, though. I'd say I appreciate it roughly 80% of the time."

I smiled. "That's pretty good, actually," I said. I told her about my dragonfly obsession, about some of my theories that seeing a dragonfly makes me feel better about accepting where I am.

She looked at me strangely. "That's so weird," she said. "I have this dragonfly pin I was just touching this morning, thinking I would give to my mom. Now," she said, "I'm definitely going to keep it!"

We said goodbye, making tentative plans to get her in touch with my roommate, to connect again. Will we? Only the dragonfly knows for sure...Cue eerie music.

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