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The Path to a Butterfly Sanctuary

A place where every caterpillar has a name -- and symbolizes a person in the process of transforming



A hospice counselor discovers the healing effect of a monarch caterpillar's metamorphosis on a dying gardener, and is inspired to create a butterfly sanctuary.

This article appeared in our June 2003 issue. When I was a spiritual counselor for a hospice program, I looked for direction from patients by finding out what they were experiencing in their lives, as well as what gave them meaning and purpose. With Lucille, an unexpected journey began with a jar filled with milkweed leaves and a chubby caterpillar. Because of her, a “Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary” now spreads over more than a acre at my house, a living portrait carved out of the forest. Lucille was fun-loving. A humble person who was frequently grateful for what she had. Lucille celebrated life by giving to others. She was not one to feel sorry for herself, even when she was dying. She was a master gardener. We would page through gardening magazines like children giggling at holiday toy catalogs. One afternoon, after seeing a picture of a monarch butterfly in a magazine, Lucille asked about their life cycle. That evening, my search began. As I scrolled down the seemingly endless pages about monarch butterflies on my computer. I was astonished by how many lessons I could learn. I printed a picture …

Particia Robinson Trapp is the author of Metamorphosis: From a Jar to a Sanctuary, available through Xlibris (

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From the ArchivesTransformationDeath MidwifeNatureSanctuary

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