Dragonfly Encounters

“Relax,” the dragonfly said. “Transformation happens. You worry too much, ask too many questions. Just Be. It will all happen.” At the time, the dragonfly was clinging to the center nub of a flower that had lost its petals. Flower stalk and dragonfly bounced up and down as gusts of wind rattled the dry grasses.

The recurring presence of dragonflies brought joy to our road trip this summer. They appeared, large and small, in an array of colors from bright green and blue, to striped dark with gold, to red and multi-hued iridescent. I’d lost count of the number.

Dragonflies are ancient creatures – 180 million years old by some accounts. They inhabit two realms – water and air. Water is symbolic of emotions, and air of mental activity. Emotional beginnings balanced with mental expression in maturity.

Dragonflies spend their first two years as water nymphs. Then they climb the stalks of plants and go through metamorphosis, transforming into creatures with two sets of wings. Their bright colors are in part light refracted off their shells, giving rise to their association with Illusion.

Early in our trip, my husband found the intact husk of a dead dragonfly and gave it to me. I nestled it into a well in the dashboard of our truck. It rode there, scattering parts of itself along our route. Another made sure I saw it – it paused to rest on our truck’s antenna while we were stopped by road construction. I was in awe, and whispered “Thank you” as it flew off.

At an overlook by sacred Crater Lake, a dying dragonfly fell to the path at my feet. It lay on its back, too spent to turn over. I gently lifted it and carried it in cupped hands to a sheltered place behind a rock, and placed it on the earth. I sent it love as it transitioned from its body to the spirit world. When I contacted it later, it thanked me for singing it a blessing song. “We are the same, both in transition,” it said. Part of the message was about Noticing what was around me, and being mindful of my connection within and to the earth. I hadn’t been very good at either on the trip, becoming scattered it in the busyness of seeing and doing. I paid attention to this dual lesson from Dragonfly.

There were many opportunities to practice. At a park where we paused for lunch our dog, Sina, pulled to the length of her flexi-leash while I watched the changing patterns of light on leaves. Then I noticed that three dragonflies had landed, neatly spaced, on the extended leash – one red and two gold.

Later, Sina and I rested in shaded tall grass while my husband toured an aircraft museum. A dragonfly flew close and sat on a stalk. I asked it what it was doing. It said, “Gathering food.” Then, “Transformation takes place. Be present.” There was more, but I understood it as another reminder of my challenge to be grounded and completely present wherever I am, even when traveling. The message is clear: Be present where I am.

I have faith in that. Dragonfly can guide us all through the change from water bugs to creatures that reflect the light. The water bugs can’t see through the water’s surface to what’s above. That’s part of the mystery and willingness to climb that stalk anyway. Only after transforming can a dragonfly look back into the water and see where it once was. I thank Dragonfly for its persistence and for the lessons it teaches me.

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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