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The Lion, the Girl, and the White Butterflies
A friendly Foster fable
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Azalea. She was brilliant, colorful, and loving. An entire world lived inside of her.
She deeply enjoyed the experience of that world. The thoughts flourishing in her mind. The emotions that traveled through her body. The scents that entered her nostrils and prompted memories through physical sensations.
Heck, she even enjoyed the thoughts that didn’t flourish! As well as the emotions that created homes in her body rather than traveling through it.
The world inside of her was her own personal experience of the world outside of her. It was unique and clever, just like her.
She enjoyed the world inside of her so much that in her outside world she preferred to be alone. She preferred a sort of silence that wasn’t silent. A silence that kept her immersed in the world outside of her through the world inside of her. A silence that welcomed sound into that experience.
She enjoyed the sort of alone-ness that made room for pure experience. And her independent experience of the world felt sacred.
It was a beautiful world, the one that lived inside of her alone-ness. But she never shared that world with anyone. People, animals, and trees would watch her walk in silence every day. Those who loved her understood that her alone-ness in navigating the world was her way of connecting to the sacred. And that while she may have been alone much of the time, she didn’t feel lonely.
Until one day, she met a noble lion.
On that day she walked up to the willow tree she spent most of her human alone-ness with, and sitting on an old stump in front of it was a lion. Father Sun was also there, shining a light on the lion as if it was meant exclusively for her to find. He always had a way of guiding her to the brightest paths in life.
The lion didn’t speak, but she could sense that he wanted to be a part of her life and her experience of the world. She sat with the lion in silence. He simply rested next to her. Not bothering her or needing anything — just providing his presence and support.
She spent a few moments guessing the lion’s name. He clearly wanted to stick around so she figured she might as well get to know him.
Leo? No. Chris? No. Zeus? No. Matt? Definitely not.
Then, inside of the world within her, she heard the word “Foster.”
“Foster?” She asked.
The lion’s eyes glowed like soft embers as he stood up and happily licked her face.
Foster became a companion to Azalea. She walked around with Foster daily in silence. Azalea welcomed Foster into her sacred space of alone-ness. Foster the lion followed her proudly and nobly — never asking for anything in return. Just providing support.
Azalea felt so loved by Foster’s presence alone that she began to share with him snippets of the world inside of her.
At first, she shared a few words. On seeing a flower die, she’d say, “I feel sad.” Or, pointing at a tree, she’d say, “That’s a nice shade of green.”
Every time she spoke, Foster looked at her with the kindness of the universe and the presence of nature. Foster would stop everything to listen to the three words come out of Azalea’s mouth. He loved her words so much that he began collecting them into a sack of sorts so he could hold on to them.
Azalea began to realize how much she enjoyed sharing her world with Foster. He made her feel seen in a way that she never felt seen before. She didn’t know if Foster understood the language she spoke, but she didn’t much care if she was understood. Being seen felt like more than enough.
She began to share more about her inside world, saying things like, “I think the Earth is mad at me,” when she saw dead flowers. And, “That shade of green smells like the truth of my heart. I want to hug the ground in gratitude,” when she saw a tree.
Foster kept collecting and collecting these words into the little sack he carried. The sack eventually began to get heavy and a bit damp.
One night, Azalea and Foster the lion slept under the willow tree in a warm cuddle. Before falling asleep, Foster hung the sack up on a branch of the willow tree, hoping it would dry out overnight.
When they woke, the sack was gone! Foster was sad to lose it, but didn’t have the words to tell Azalea. Plus, Foster didn’t need the sack. He was happy simply walking beside Azalea and supporting her through another day.
Later that day, on their walk, they saw a white butterfly land on a branch directly in front of them. Father Sun made his presence known once again, pointing his rays at it. To Azalea and Foster, this butterfly felt sacred.
Azalea went to touch the butterfly, but it quickly flew away, ushering her to follow it!
For miles and miles and hours and hours, Azalea chased the butterfly around trees and villages until it finally landed in front of her grandmother’s home.
Not grandmother Willow, the tree they loved so dearly, but Azalea’s grandmother, the mother of the woman who birthed her. The butterfly had settled itself in front of the home Azalea grew up in.
She knocked on the door and hugged her family. They welcomed her with a hot cacao drink, homemade tortillas, and the family’s famous caldo de pollo.
She spent hours recounting her journey. Hours telling them about the magic of her life and the feelings inside of her. They laughed, cried, and truly enjoyed each other's company. For the first time in her life, Azalea began to enjoy the experience of not-alone-ness.
When she stopped talking for a moment to catch her breath, Azalea noticed Foster lying down in the front yard. She went outside to hug that special lion friend of hers.
Foster didn’t have a strong desire to come inside. He was happy simply to witness Azalea’s feeling truly supported. He was grateful that the story of her inside world would be told to others. And that she had found a way to connect to the most intimate form of love — sharing.
Foster made a pact with Azalea to rest outside until she was ready for another adventure. One in which she would be held once again by her lion friend as she explored both her inner and outer worlds.
She went back inside as the white butterfly rested on Foster’s nose.
Yes, it’s me, Foster, telling this story. I’m an old lion now.
Many years ago someone very special taught me language through her stories and experience of the world. So now I travel the world, telling her story.
Only stories can create white butterflies, ones that cocoon as caterpillars in warmth like the sack of Azalea’s words, and undergo their profound transformation when they are set free.
Now, every time I see a white butterfly, I like to think that it was created by the stories from someone else’s inner world.
I like to feel how that moment connects me to others. What can be more sacred than that?
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Special thanks tofor his crackerjack edits to this post.