Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Gratitude for Freedom

The Butterfly 
The last, the very last
So richly, brightly
dazzling yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears
could sing against a white stone.
For seven weeks I've lived in here,
penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me and
the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
The last, the very last.
So richly, brightly
dazzling yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears
could sing against a white stone.
Such, such a yellow
is carried lightly way up high.
It went away I'm sure
because it wished to
kiss the world good-bye.
The last, the very last.
So richly, brightly
dazzling yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears
could sing against a white stone.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here.

The poem above was written by Pavel Friedman on June 4, 1942. He was born in Prague on January 7, 1921, deported to Terezin Concentration camp in April of 1942 then eventually to Auschwitz where he died on September 29, 1944. 

His life ended at same time (age wise) as the second half of mine began (I’ll be 46 in March 2011) Pavel was only 23 years old. I was married on June 4, 1988…I was 23 years old.

This poem has touched my heart since I was a little girl and would borrow the collection of poems, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, written by children forced to exist in Terezin concentration camp, from our synagogue library. They haunted me, inspired me, guided me to appreciate life, each precious moment.

When I saw a link to Trudi's blog on Sharmon's and Caterina's, I decided to participate in the Butterfly Project and asked my girls if they would too. The museum is collecting 1.5 million butterflies for an exhibit that will open in 2013, each butterfly represents one child who perished during the Holocaust. Over Thanksgiving weekend, we created our butterflies. It felt like an appropriate weekend for the project.


I struggled and struggled, becoming more and more frustrated trying to draw a shape I liked and then cutting it out. Next poking small holes into the three layers of paper, threading my big eye beading needle and tiny glass beads through the needle and then the holes to embellish my butterfly. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe, relax...but my mind kept saying "This should be easy, this is a simple task for you!"  I got caught up in a drama of my own mind's making. 

Later in the week when I spoke to my physical therapist about my frustration at performing a task that used to be a joy for me, he did a simple test with my eyes, having me follow his finger as he moved it and I moved my eyes. He detected a slight lag in my left eye, the one that had been partially paralyzed and led to my MS diagnoses over a year ago now. My Dad checked it out too a of couple days ago. He saw the same thing. NO WONDER it is so hard for me to collage, draw, bead, create with my hands the way I used to. I was blaming it on my lack of energy or even some kind of laziness on my part. I didn't understand my body's wisdom to avoid these beloved activities.  And yet I have not done much art work with my hands over the past two years. A few small projects here and there. The truth is, my EYES are different now and my hands cannot coordinate with them through space the way they did in the past. This is sad for me. I loved "making art" and was always busy creating with my hands, ever since I was the little girl who loved the poem above. The myelin that should be covering the neurons that tell my left eye how quickly to move in tandem with my right eye will likely NOT regenerate any more at this point. This is how it is. 

And so...I am gifted with a love for and ability to still see and capture images through photography. It is a different creative process, but I am free to explore the view through my camera and collect all the butterflies, trees, faces, sunsets and sunrises, buildings transforming through time and weather, and reflections upon water and glass, whenever I am looking through the windows of my comfortable house or out in our car as a passenger. I am free. I am alive. I am here. My suffering is insignificant, a grain of sand to what these children, their parents and grandparents were forced to experience. I pray that my butterfly, and the ones my daughters made with compassionate intention, will serve to honor the memories of Pavel, and the 1.5 million other children who perished during the Holocaust. Children who never had a chance to marry and have children of their own, yet who appreciated precious moments while they still could catch glimpses within the confines of the camps and the horrendous conditions of their short lives.

Laura's photo, stitched and beaded butterfly
My butterfly offering is formed from a photo of a window with reflections of leaves; transformation from one season to another. It is beaded and stitched onto bright colors...freedom colors.
Rosewillow's felted butterfly
Rosewillow's butterfly was felted with bright wool onto the remnants of a piece of old denim from worn out jeans.
Belin's collaged butterfly
Belin's butterfly contribution is a collage of National Geographic articles giving reports of the war from that time. (I have a lot of old wonderful old magazines from when I collaged and facilitated SoulCollage workshops!)

I LOVE the butterflies my girls created...each as unique as my daughters...and you know, I kind of like mine too now.

Thank you Trudi for collecting these butterflies...I hope my blog post will add to the "Butterfly Effect" and entice others to join in too!

You can send your butterflies directly to the Holocaust Museum Houston
or to Trudi @   Two Dresses Studio.

Ours will be on their way soon!
Gentle Steps,

PS. As I finish editing this post, I can hear the most beautiful ethereal music outside my owl has come to visit our woods again.


  1. I love all the butterflies. I especially love your intention to catch the glimmers of light wherever you can.

  2. you live so intentionally, Laura.
    so inspiring.
    every day is a gift .

    (and thank you for your support, it is so so appreciated)

  3. Laura,
    A beautiful poignant way to begin our week. Thank you for the butterflies and the "story" behind them. You've deeply touched my heart this morning. Each creation is simply beautiful. I can't imagine what it would be like to see all of the butterflies gathered together....

    And as for the news of your eye and the coordination, my heart is heavy at hearing this. It is a very big thing to accept and let go something like this that you have loved so much- hands on creativity.

    But you know what I sense Laura, your heart is getting more expressive....and your words, this gift of words you have, just keeps broadening and deepening. I feel so blessed to receive these gifts from you each time I come here...

    Love you!

  4. Your butterflies are gorgeous! What a wonderful project, heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.

  5. this is a wonderful project and your butterflies are fabulous!

  6. Great inspiration in this post Laura. My granddaughter and I will work on a butterfly over the Christmas holidays. My father-in-law was one of the lucky ones that escaped the camps, but his parents did not. Their lives were ended in Auschwitz.

  7. I've never read that poem before. It is shatteringly lovely. The Butterfly Project is a beautiful idea, too... and your butterflies will make a perfect addition.

    I'm sharing your sadness over your eyes and the loss of this form of artistic expression that was so meaningful and joyful for you. And I am grateful that you can see the "and so..." in your life - the gifts that still remain.

    And I am grateful for all those, like Pavel Friedman, who have gone before us, who show us the way...

  8. Perhaps if the sun's tears
    could sing against a white stone.

    these words grab me in the heart so... then you!

    the work is All beautiful, the Being in you shines. Teaches me. Blesses.

    Thank you.

  9. I will be spending this, the last day with my parents enjoying their company, but had to pop in to say thank you all for you kindness, for sharing your family stories, and your personal stories. I do hope many of you will participate, make butterflies of you own, with your children, grandchildren and students!

    abundant blessings upon all of you and all beings,

  10. Thank you Laura for sharin this warm post. All the butterflies are lovely, as I am sure all the children were.

    Take care of yourself.

  11. You and your daughters dazzle me with your ability to create such beauty. I am deeply saddened at the news about your eyes, and yet I see what you have created and how you are able to use all your talents ~ with words, photos, artwork. You enrich my life with all that you share.

    We have an owl in our woods, too. I have seen it twice as it crossed the driveway under the cover of darkness. A friend once told me an owl is a good sign.

  12. What a wonderful story to read. I love all three of your butterflies - yours especially knowing what it cost you to make. One of the many things I love about knowing you is the way you find light in new windows when old ones darken. And your absolute gift for sharing your joy for living. I'm humbled by your path, and so glad to be walking alongside you for this time.

  13. What a pure blessing you are and this post too...I understand not being able to do things that you were once able to do...I know what it means to be sad about some of these things...yet I know how it feels to be joyful in spite and to see all the good and the divine purpose...the butterfly poem is amazing...I appreciated learning about this...the butterflys you and your daughters are simply beautiful and so heart cry's for such tragedy's as the remember all of these people in such a way just takes my breath away with emotion...bless all of you taking part in wonderful that your daughters have beautiful hearts like their lovely to have such a visitor today...bless you dear Laura. XX

  14. Dearest Laura,

    I am so glad that you are enjoying your parents and that they are still there visiting with you!

    My daughter performed in the play, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, when she was in high school. At the time, my youngest daughter was about ten years old and the director asked if she could play one of the smaller children. I cried and cried watching my daughters portray two beautiful children who perished in the Holocaust. Here were two vibrant, healthy, blessed Jewish children portraying two other beautiful, vibrant Jewish children who were murdered. Wrapping my mind around that was excruciating. But, also knowing that my Jewish daughters were able to represent these Holocaust victims and give them voices, made me feel very proud. We are still here. Regardless of what they tried to do to us, we are still here.

    Thank you for letting us know about this "Butterfly Effect" collection. I will definitely gather my four daughters around(and my sweet Jewish husband who converted because he felt he had a Jewish soul), and we will create our own butterflies to send in.

    Have I told you lately how wonderful I think you are?

    Love and big hugs, Chag Sameach!

  15. And I am so saddened by the news of your eyes. I know how much you love to express yourself by doing creative works, and I am glad that you will continue to do so through photography. I look forward to seeing the beautiful photographic work that you will come up with in the future!


  16. Bless you Laura. You are an inspiration to us all. Sight is not an absolute requirement to being an artist - there are many blind painters - their art comes from their heart and does yours.

  17. first...what lovely butterflies you created..and what a cause as well for their memory...i love butterflies...and now all the more...

  18. Laura what a beautiful post starting with the poem and ending with the sacred sound of the owl.. I love that you are still being creative just in different ways, I think it is so great that your butterfly was made from a picture of a window, very meaningful..


  19. Your post is inspiring, as always and your collection of butterflies is lovely. Thank you so much for sharing this project with us and thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and comment! :o)

  20. as she lands on a flower
    to sip its nectar,
    she discovers this one
    is drying up
    rather than make a fuss, stamp feet and flap wings,
    she simply lifts off and finds another flower
    from which to sip nectar

  21. Hi Laura, it is lovely to meet you..super beautiful blog you have and gorgeous inspiring post! Thanks for your wonderful visit to mine and your sparkling words.
    have a magical week!

  22. Laurah, a beautiful post. So sorry about your eyes. I only know you have ao such talent and give so much love. It will continue in the way that God intends for you to minister to all of us.
    Enjoy your parents. Blessings from One Woman sent you way..

  23. How beautiful your butterflies are!
    I was so moved from reading this post, thank you for posting it!

  24. I have never heard that poem. How could I never have heard that?

    But then again, there is much beauty and sadness gone before and yet to come I may never know of.

    But I know this moment.

    And of some unspeakable things done to Jews. My suffering is practically nonexistent.

    I was thinking of Life Is Beautiful earlier and almost wrote a poem inspired by it, but my mind drifted to something else and the poem lay undone.

    I think I was going to write something like I'd like to be the cheerer of the downhearted, the one directing the game of hide-and-seek, the one acting the fool and making faces to distract the children from their pain but I don' think I am that good or strong.

    There for the grace of so many go I.


    Lovely butterflies and idea for the museum

  25. And lovely sentiments in your comment above to make peace with all.

    I am all about that. Or at least try to be.

    xoxo again.


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