There once was a woman who wanted spiritual enlightenment, so she went out from her house, out from her city, into the wild. And she found a tree and sat beneath it. Crossing her legs, closing her eyes, she began to meditate.
But a butterfly came by and persisted in distracting her with its flapping golden wings and hungry presence. After a while, the woman opened her eyes and sighed. She looked about. She saw how nothing grew thereabouts but the tree and the long grass. So she walked back to the city and, after a while, returned to the tree with a basketful of flowering plants. Milkweed, rosemary, black-eyed daisies : she planted them, and smiled to watch the butterfly come. And a score more butterflies come. And bees.
Then she closed her eyes and meditated.
But a feral cat came crying by, distracting her from her peace. She sighed. Opening her eyes, she saw the despair in the cat's stare. So she walked back to the city and, after a while, returned to the tree with fishes and water bottles. These she set in bowls nearby, then smiled to watch the feral cat come to feast. And more cats come. And after them, mice. And little birds she had not noticed in the high branches of the tree. Afterwards, the birds sang, and she sighed, for how could she meditate with such music all about?
She closed her eyes and concentrated.
But a young man came by, supporting himself heavily with a stick. He looked for a moment like he would seek rest beneath the tree, but then noticed the woman meditating and limped on. She sighed. Calling him over, she welcomed him to sit awhile with her amongst the tree roots, the flowers. She gave him a bottle of water, some food, and they talked. He had been in the wars, in more ways than one, and society had turned away from him, unable to bear the scars across his youth. He told her many stories, and some were even beautiful, but there was a deep sorrow of loneliness in his eyes.
When he left, refreshed by water and conversation, the woman was very tired. She wanted to meditate but instead found herself falling asleep.
She was woken by birdsong. As she roused, a butterfly alighted from her hair. The cats were back, waiting to be fed. The flowers she had planted needed watering. The young man would be alone in his small room in the city, and she knew just the community group that would best serve him.
The woman sighed. There was no time today for meditating. She moved on with her work.
illustrator unknown. (incase you are wondering, i found the picture after i wrote the story.)