Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rejoice in the Luba Citrin

Written by Tonia Berman
Dedicated, with love, to Ginny Shabatay

A butterfly garden.  I am not sure if I even knew this sort of exquisite venue existed.   None-the-less, Heidi and I found ourselves amongst a group of 15 people from all over the world, each person equally in awe of the most beautiful of creatures.  Our guide released two butterflies that were flying side by side. They immediately landed on the ankle of a dark-skinned, stunning young woman who was standing close beside me.  And thus, the human connection began.   We all stood mesmerized, watching the most basic of life's ritual, two butterflies mating.  We quietly hypothesized why they chose this particular woman for their perch, and decided it was probably her scent.  Everyone clustered around, shooting pictures with all types of cameras and smart phones.  At that moment, we were unified as we stared in wonderment at this most simplistic, yet significant, representation of the cycle of life.
Our guide proceeded to show us a moth that had just emerged from its cocoon.  “They undergo metamorphosis for a period of seven months,” he said, “but once they exit the cocoon,  their adult life consists of five days.”  I couldn’t get past the fact that this was merely a moth, and felt sadness for this creature whose life was cut short.  Perhaps, I justified, the time spent in the cocoon was so enjoyable that it compensated for this injustice.
The final pair of mating butterflies landed on the blue and white striped shirt of an older woman’s sagging breasts.  Finding himself caught up in the moment, her husband starting shooting pictures from all different angles.  The crowd followed, no longer caring that this would normally be considered a rude invasion of privacy, and a rather unappealing background for a picture.  The focus was on the butterflies, however, and the typical societal norms were renounced.
Following the tour, I needed some time alone, to meditate upon all of the butterflies surrounding me.  People, fortunately, started to clear out and I kept my eyes focused on my favorite… the Luba Citrin (the blue butterfly).   I walked around the farm and waited, determined to capture this most miraculous creature on film.  At last he stopped, and spread his wings for me… I could swear he was posing as he waited until I got a clear picture of him.  I experienced a sense of serenity that I haven’t felt for a very long time.  Such a simple moment of beauty, and yet, so riveting.
It is for these moments that I love to travel.  Not only do I stop setting an alarm clock, wearing a watch, paying bills, and worrying about my loved ones, but I take the time to explore the most random of places.  This is when I witness the strong human connection during the most unexpected of moments.  This is when I find myself unwind long enough to rejoice in the mere existence of the Luba Citrin.


  1. In my letter I did forget that you recently took a trip for your birthday, which was good to hear as you work hard and deserve a break for all you do for our school and life in general. The part about the butterfly spreading its wings for you seems surreal, which is pretty cool and I'm glad you had the chance to experience that. Sometimes people wonder why I post a bajillion pictures of my cats every week; it's my "me time" that I like and the little things that cats do (like imitate circles) brings a smile to my face.
    I really do wish you good health and happiness and blog posts like this affirm that.
    <3 Elizabeth

  2. Virginia ShabatayJune 12, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    The quiet and gentle energy between you and this strikingly beautiful butterfly was a lovely and real meeting. How can I thank you for sharing this stunning experience, especially at this time when I was in need of just this sort of touch and care? I hold it close to my heart, and it brings smiles and solace and joy.

    The energy that connects all living creatures is a gift really. We creatures speak different languages, but communicate we do – if we are open and allow the “Other” in.
    It is dazzling when we extend ourselves to a horse, a deer, a butterfly, and they recognize our silent invitation and our welcoming hand and then come to us.

    So, dear Tonia, thank you for posting this blog
    and dedicating it to me. We all keep each other
    not just going but thriving. It is the sustenance we need. It is the mystery of the sacred.

    With love, Ginny

  3. Virginia ShabatayJune 13, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    I was in and out of a dream state all night after reading again your blog and text. The beautiful, little butterfly kept hovering about, and I began to see the deeper, quieter message you wrote about. I have experienced such moments before -
    they don't come often, but they do come. You're
    right: they are life-enhancing. They bring us in touch with a life force that is healing and whole and giving. At this challenging time in my life, I'll meditate on this lovely meeting you and the Luba Citrin had! It does bring serenity. Thanks so much, Tonia!

  4. This post reminded me of the phrase "taking time to smell the roses" except in this case it's to see the butterflys :) I love how when you're actually given time to relax and breath we tend to notice and appreciate all the little things that make up life. Something as simple as a butterfly can bring someone happiness and serenity as it did to you. I also like how no matter where you go in the world you can always find some way to break the language barrier between people (not to sure if the young woman spoke a different language) But I remember I few years ago when I went to Jamaica we went swimming with the dolphins and we go paired up with a group from Brazil who spoke portuguesse. I thought it would be hard to socialize with them but ended up being very fun because shared our language and they shared theirs :)