April 7, 2011

Beauty in the Mess of Life

Photo courtesy of Shanna Murray.  The proceeds from the sales of these gorgeous decals go to support Japan.
Quote from Mother Teresa

Before I share how to create the butterflies, I hope you'll bear with me as I share with you why I chose to make them and its significance to me.  Butterflies have always been a symbol of hope and new life.  And for me, they have always represented something beautiful blossoming out of something not so beautiful (no offense to those who happen to think caterpillars are gorgeous creatures).  Beauty can be found, even in the midst of ugliness and the mess of life.

So what beauty could possibly come out of the devastation and tragedy that occurred in Japan?  Well, what I've witnessed in the past couple weeks is complete strangers rallying together to come to the aid of other strangers.  I've seen everyone tweeting, blogging, facebooking, emailing, and doing whatever they can to help in the small ways that they can.  Compassion is not lost on us. 

It reminded me so much of the response after 9/11.  I had just moved from D.C. to the New York area the month prior.  I didn't know anyone, and I didn't even have a steady job.  I was temping as a receptionist at the time.  On the morning of September 11, 2001, I had reported bright and early to a job at an architectural firm located in midtown Manhattan.  Half an hour later with the first plane crash, the world had changed.  I still remember the events of that day very clearly (I have an online journal entry with updates as the day occurred).  The horror of what took place that morning shook and shattered my soul.  I remember walking out into the streets a couple hours after the World Towers collapsed and being assaulted by the sound of sirens and the wretched smell of smoke and ashes.  I saw people running in every direction, some covered in soot.  There were others desperately and frantically trying to make phone calls, but the lines were all jammed.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, my husband-to-be worked on Wall Street.  God spared his life.  But others I know lost loved ones that day.

Knowing I wouldn't be able to get over the bridge or through the tunnel to get home that day, the office manager was kind enough to offer her place to me.  I had never met her until that morning.  I was a stranger to her, and yet she opened up her home to me.   That day, we weren't strangers.  We weren't a part of the rat race pushing and shoving to be first.  We weren't tough, hard ass New Yorkers.  She wasn't Jewish, and I wasn't Korean-American.  That day, we were all just human crying out and caring for our fellow brothers and sisters.

I saw this again in the aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami.  Complete strangers of every background from every nation working together for a common good.  Compassion, kindness, love, and generosity being demonstrated in the face of such devastation.

Image courtesy of NYC Bake Sale for Japan organizer and friend, Lillian
That's the beauty that rises from the mess and ugliness of life.  That's hope.  For us and for Japan.


  1. i love the imagery of butterflies. funny, my dad gave me the same encouragement when i decided to move back to nj....."there was one thing. before you left to Michigan, I was about to tell you that the caterpillar can not be beautiful butterfly until it breaks the comfortable homebase.
    I felt you needed the move." ahhhh~~~

    seriously, beauty in the broken.

  2. This is a beautiful entry. I was in Philadelphia on a train on the way to New York for fashion week on sept. 11th. My sister was living in NY and we couldn't get a hold of her all day/ night. It really is a story of beauty from ashes. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Junia - How beautiful that your father shared that piece of wisdom with you before going off to college! It's very true.

    Julie - My family was so concerned b/c they couldn't reach me, and they didn't even know where I was working b/c I was temping at diff't offices. That was a really hard time, and it's hard to believe it was almost 10 years ago.


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