mended with gold

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Gold sifts through my days.

Filaments of morning light splay through oak leaves to gild the pages I read. In the garden, goldfinches flit among black-eyed susans, and goldenrod shimmers in aureate splendor.

Late summer spills into early autumn: shadows stretch, light shifts. At close of day, sunlight slants in from the west, edging silhouettes of trees and shrubs, porches and rooftops, roadside fences and grassy fields in fine gold leaf. Stars wake and glisten – gold sequins in an azure sky.

Everywhere and all around me, the hours of day and night are flecked with gold; I see it now with renewed clarity. I gather this gold – nature’s gold – because it is more than merely beautiful. It is also medicinal.

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Although I make a point of choosing peace each day, from time to time I’m apt to brood over things I can’t change. My head accepts the fact that illness, loss, and sorrow are unavoidable parts of life, but my unruly heart throbs resistant: it runs away down time’s endless corridor; tries to invent fairer circumstances, better yesterdays for those I love; searches and weeps for those I mourn. My thoughts and emotions battle the unchangeable past; sometimes, they wage war on me. I recognize them for what they are: bullies and thieves who divest me of peace, of delight – even in the simple gifts of nature’s gold. Recognizing them for what they are doesn’t always mean I’m able to deflect them – they’ll pop up unannounced and darken my doorstep.

It has long been my habit to go to my garden when my heart is heavy. I go about my quiet tasks: I fill bird baths, water plants, tend flowers. The active process of nurturing my garden when I feel impoverished has a dependable outcome: I’ll step outdoors with empty pockets, then realize nature has filled them with gold.

Several weeks ago, I had a remarkable experience I can’t stop thinking about. During a spell of hot, dry weather, I was standing in the garden, watering my tall phlox. I was present, but my heart was elsewhere, pacing the weary perimeters of the past. I felt a familiar twinge of sorrow and heaved a sigh.

Just then, something caught my peripheral vision. I glanced up. To my astonishment, a male giant swallowtail butterfly wafted down from the sky, hovered directly in front of me, then flew over to sample my phlox blossoms. He was the first of this year’s large butterflies to visit my garden, and he took my breath away. Giant swallowtails are skittish creatures, and previous to this surprising, close-up encounter, I had only caught distant glimpses of them in the fields during family excursions to our Iowa farm.

The giant swallowtail’s tremulous, five-inch wings were jet black with distinct, gold markings that instantly reminded me of the Japanese art of kintsugi, in which shards of broken pottery are repaired with gold. This meaning-filled metaphor was not lost on me. As he floated among the flowers, I studied the butterfly’s markings and realized it is possible to be both fragmented and whole. In my heart, words formed and were underscored: GOLD. Gold mends what is broken. I observed how lightly a giant swallowtail carries his darkness.

Sudden gratitude for nature’s gold and its radiant, healing presence in my life prompted a stream of silver tears. The giant swallowtail, my ephemeral messenger, remained in my presence – close enough to touch – for several minutes. Then, he fluttered up and away. I watched until he vanished among the treetops.

I’m still thinking about how profoundly this brief encounter stirred my understanding. It was a rare moment of wonder, wisdom, grace, delivered as if right on cue, just when my porous heart could best absorb it. I’ve sensed the presence of synchronicities like this for years and grow ever more certain that nature, who instructs and consoles, is infused with the divine.

Nature is a quiet companion who offers us her gifts each day, free of charge. Her ample storehouse is open to all of her children – and there is enough gold here for all of us.

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If your heart is hurting, go outside and open your eyes. Look for the sun, for the moon, for the gold that rinses through each day. Look for it, trust you will find it. And let your own broken places be mended – mended with gold.



24 thoughts on “mended with gold

    • My encounter with the giant swallowtail was nearly a month ago. I wrote pages and pages about it in my journal, haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. This post has been percolating ever since, and honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever look at this glorious natural world any other way than through the kintsugi lens. Nature truly does heal us with gold. Thank you, Kristine, so much. I love knowing this resonated with you. xo

  1. It’s no accident, I think, that in Bible stories about the great hereafter, the streets are paved with gold. But that color isn’t reserved for heaven: It’s mirrored in our backyard flowerbeds, is carried on gossamer wings and echoed in sweet (and silly) conversations among special friends. I believe these golden treasures are available to everyone, so long as we keep our eyes (and pockets) open.

  2. Another beautiful soul-sharing moment among many, Amy. As I read, I thought of how your mother would love it, and how proud she would be of the influence she has had, and continues to have, on your heart. Then I thought, “If Amy is so moved by the beauty of this world, she will be completely overwhelmed by heaven.” ❤

  3. First I had to google what a swallowtail butterfly looks like, and also the kintsugi. After seeing them I thought you made a beautiful metaphor. We always hear that the ugly things, or the those things that break us are the ones that make us whole. It’s a truth that doesn’t really make me enthusiastic but I think it’s a good method to look at the bright side of things.

    • Thank you, Marjorie. I love that you took a moment to look up a giant swallowtail and kintsugi, and I’m honored to know you found the metaphor beautiful. I think we are made whole by love and kindness, and by immersing ourselves in nature’s gold. I agree with you that we should always look to the light and choose a positive attitude. Thank you for your kind remarks. xox

  4. Oh, Amy. As always, this is pure poetry. I had never heard of kintsugi. What a concept! I don’t think I have to tell you how much this post resonates with me. One day I will have to share with you an experience I had as a child, in a garden. It will serve as further proof that the two of us were, in some spiritual realm, childhood friends. Thank you for gifting us with your insight and your beautiful, poetic words. xoxo

    • Here and there over the past couple of years, I have come across sporadic references to kintsugi in my reading. But it was the giant swallowtail who brought kintsugi’s deepest, healing message home to me as I stood there amazed. I still can’t stop thinking about it.

      I would so love to hear about your childhood experience in a garden, Jessica, my childhood friend of the spiritual realm! You bless me with kindness. Thank you. xoxo

  5. Amy your words are yet again very moving and comforting. I, too, find comfort in the presence of nature, and usually in my garden, where I spend most of my hours. Years ago after my grandmother died when I was feeling very sad a Monarch landed on the handle of my shovel as I worked in my garden. I watched it for a long while. I felt as if it was looking right into my eyes with intensity. It flew off and then a minute or so it landed again. This happened several more times. I could not interrupt it, but it felt very powerful to me. I felt my grandmother’s presence around me. Over the years I’ve experienced other such encounters. Perhaps they are coincidental, I don’t know. But it’s curious that when my heart is most vulnerable, they appear as a beacon of light. Your gold. I’m ever grateful for their gift, and also grateful for your stunningly beautiful piece.

    • Maude, it is always an honor and a special joy to hear from you. Thank you for your perennial kindness. It means a great deal to me to know my words have touched your heart.

      What a beautiful story about the monarch who visited you, returning again and again as a beacon of light. Your grandmother’s loving spirit was surely hovering around you that day, calming and comforting you, reminding you she’ll always be near. I, also, have had some uncanny experiences of synchronicity over the years – too many and far too powerful to doubt their meaning.

      May your garden hours continue to bless you with peace and understanding. I’ll close with this quote:

      “Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.” ~Carl Jung


      • Love that quote which I know but appreciate being reminded of again. It’s so true. So I send one back that I love about gardening and nature. “Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” — May Sarton. I often believe this is why I garden and keep myself so immersed in the natural beauty around me and I suspect the same for you from your writing and posts which mean a great deal to me. How lucky we are to be amongst the gold and grace.

      • In addition to the joys of gardening, it seems we cherish many of the same quotes! Yes, yes – I also love this quote by May Sarton, and I agree with you, Maude, we are lucky to immerse ourselves in our quiet gardens, surrounded by natural beauty.

        Such a pleasure to converse with you here, my friend. Happy autumn: season of gold and grace. (Love the alliterative ring of those words! You write beautifully. Thank you.) xox

  6. Dear Amy,
    Thank you for writing this and so expertly putting these thoughts into words that are so accessible to others who lack your gift of writing from the soul (like me:-))
    I am so grateful that I found a friend like you who has so gently opened me, reminded me of the wonders all around. Wonders that are commonplace and extraordinary at the same time, healing and soothing, at times that I didn’t even realize I could and would benefit from such a balm.
    This piece, like all of our conversations, while revealing more of you, who you are and your concerns and passions, also speaks to me to realize that the qualities that make me the person I am are more similar than different from others who walk this planet. Others who feel vulnerable and continue to be open, hoping that the world will be gentle with us and help us make it through the world by being encouraging and loving of the people we are.
    May we all find each other and create our own spiritual utopia where we can walk streets of gold, reveling in each other and appreciating the gold-laced parts of ourselves, knowing we are in a safe place.

    • Sweet Thea, thank you for this lovely message. I think we all share joy and heartbreak, fear and vulnerability, love and a sense of wonder, dreams and hopes and a deep need for compassion. I wish people everywhere, instead of bickering over our differences, would celebrate our similarities.

      And, my friend, you underestimate your gift of writing. Just look at these gorgeous words from your soul:

      “May we all find each other and create our own spiritual utopia where we can walk streets of gold, reveling in each other and appreciating the gold-laced parts of ourselves, knowing we are in a safe place.”

      Beautiful! Amen.

      Whenever we’re together, we walk streets of gold. xox

    • Thank you, lovely Jeannine! May nature’s gold dazzle your eyes, spill from your pockets, and heap upon your waiting heart a storm of glorious abundance! xoxo

  7. Amy, thank you for singing this hymn of gratitude. Your exquisite words were in my heart as I walked this afternoon. Gold everywhere. Grace abounding.

    • I am grateful to know my words accompanied you today as you walked. May grace and gold surround you always. So lovely to hear from you, my friend. Peace and all good~ xox

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