Published May 25, 2011 this is column 94
by Eddy Robey M.A.
  Issue: 12.05
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Joy in the Sunshine
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"Civilization should have a few gentle hobbies."
King Arthur in the musical "Camelot."

There is a blessing to be found and shared in all experiences. Sometimes, it is a challenge to remember that fact, and we need a bit of help. My companion assistants are Wagsy and Poochy, two tiny dogs with very big eyes to see all the wonders around them. Another companion, which you might think a sad one, is the arthritis which has transformed my walk to a slow shuffle. However, these three have joined forces to bring me great happiness.

How do they cooperate in glad endeavor? Every two hours, in rain or shine, Wagsy and Poochy must be taken out to avail themselves of the possibilities offered by the patch of garden at the front of my apartment building. Arthritis decrees that these excursions must be made very slowly. Not to worry, there is so much to see each time.

Others are often with us in enjoying this beauty. Like us, they are tiny, yet there is plenty of room for all to smile together. Sparrows flit about the elm, bees visit the rosemary, squirrels harvest figs in season, and the butterflies visit all growing things. How lovely are the butterflies, and how enchanting to watch, as they dance in the air. Wagsy, Poochy, and I stand engrossed in their ballet, then return home smiling at the memory.

So it was with sadness that I saw a recent television show featuring products offered for sale as gifts. One of those products was and electronic gadget shaped like a clear canning jar. Inside it, was a small, colorful plastic butterfly. Upon tapping the jar lid, the butterfly would move about.

As a former teacher, I had often been presented with what this product sought to duplicate. A jar with holes punched in the lid, which usually contained a small amount of water, and perhaps a lettuce leaf, along with its doomed inmate. I would always and immediately free the prisoner, then use the occasion as a starting point for a lesson in empathy.

Honestly, I was confounded by these offerings. Did parents imagine that I would confer some sort of science extra credit for these lazy, casual cruelties? I say lazy, because they were never accompanied by any sort of written work or prepared oral presentation about insects.

The only value of a butterfly in a jar is as an inspiration to consider the value of compassion for the others of G-d's creatures with whom we share his creation. Life is brief, and it is horrible to consider that the end of such beauty should come trapped away from joy in the sunshine.

A true present is the one offered by my companions, time and opportunity to share the blessings around us. Save your money, and take a loved one out for a walk. Spend some time in gratitude for the gifts we already possess.

Copyright 2011 Eddy Robey

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