These are my favorite story’s to post, ones that force us to think outside the boundaries of the false reality’s and paradigm’s we’ve been programmed into believing are real. The information is especially significant coming from the mouths of babes, children young enough to still have an open window to the part of the brain allowing us to tune in to frequencies, dimensions and energies that as adults we all learned to tune out as we grew up. When things like this happen it’s a great reminder that we live in an amazing universe that’s alive with an infinite number of life forms and entities beyond our wildest imagination!
January 31, 2012
LITTLE ROCK — If you’ve been reading this space over the years, first I’ll say thanks for reading. Secondly, you already know that I’m always intrigued by stories of the off beat and inexplicable that capture our imaginations.
And that leads me to the recent news account of what people in Joplin, Mo., and elsewhere are calling the “butterfly people.” These are the small-winged figures some children reportedly say they saw protecting and assisting victims caught in the devastating tornado that laid waste last May to much of Joplin.
A steady supply of assistance and all forms of aid have flowed into the city from across Northwest Arkansas and our entire state. Joplin is less than a two-hour drive from the Arkansas border.
Factual or not, the stories about the butterfly people are the stuff from which legend and myth are born. And they have spread through the homes, churches and businesses in this ordinarily peaceful city of about 49,000 since last spring.
I hadn’t heard of them until Lia Danks of Washington County forwarded the copyrighted news story by Todd C. Frankel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published in mid-December. The story described more than one Joplin child who was in, or near, the EF5 tornado saying they witnessed small, human like beings with forms like butterflies trying to help those trapped in the tornado that claimed 161 lives and destroyed at least 900 homes.
Frankel’s intriguing story describes a mother and her preschool-age daughter who ran from their car as the twister closed in on them. Together, they fell to the ground and the mother tried her best to cover her daughter. The mother watched the tornado send their car flying in their direction and braced for the result. But it never came and both emerged unharmed.
Afterwards, the daughter asks if her mother thought “they” were pretty. Mom asked who was pretty. The little girl responded by asking if her mother also had seen “the butterfly people.” In another version, the reporter writes, the daughter describes seeing the butterfly people lifting men and women into the sky.
Yet another account concerns a man and two young boys. They also supposedly were trapped outside during the tornado. In most retellings, the wind was powerful enough to rip the soles from the man’s shoes, but no one was injured. Frankel writes that these preschool-age boys said they saw butterfly people protecting them from above.
High school counselor Shelley Wilson heard the story of the mother and daughter. After the tornado, she volunteered for a Red Cross disaster mental health team. Wilson doesn’t remember who told her stories about children seeing the butterfly people, but, Frankel writes, she heard them repeatedly. Yet never firsthand.
“But that didn’t lead Wilson to doubt,” the story continues. “It’s the only way we can really, honestly understand how more people were not killed,” she said. “When you walk through what was left, it just kind of took your breath away.”
“Marsha Sherrod heard the story while volunteering at a tornado donation center,” Frankel writes. “She shared it with her Sunday school class. . . . One boy, a quiet 11-year-old, raised his hand. The boy said he saw the butterfly people that night too, Sherrod recalled.” She believes angels were indeed active as the tornado began grinding its mile wide path through the town.
“If you had seen what I saw,” she told the reporter, “you would understand.”
Emily Huddleston, who was 14 on that fateful day-May 22-says she understands completely. She was traveling with her mother across town when the tornado lifted their vehicle and sent it soaring hundreds of yards through the air. Emily’s leg was impaled in the resulting crash and she spent weeks in treatment and healing.
During the ensuing months, as she walked through the barren landscape that had been her home and neighborhood, Emily said she noticed that butterflies, seemingly from out of nowhere, were continually either landing on her or circling her.
In a video on the Internet, she explains with tears streaming, there “was no [logical] reason for the butterflies to even be there.” No bushes, trees or anything to naturally attract them. For her, she says, those butterflies are “a sign that angels are still here and watching over us. They’re not leaving,” she says.
Some therapists who’ve visited with many Joplin children likely would say the protective butterfly people are a natural way of trying to comprehend such a disaster in understandable terms. Like most folks, I’m at a loss where the truth lies in this story.
In Joplin today, a mural titled Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight covers one wall of the Dixie Printing building at 15th and Main streets.
The colorful work, primarily crafted by muralist Dave Loewenstein with contributions by children in Joplin, presents a story of rebirth and hope renewed. And while Loewenstein says the stories of the butterfly people weren’t necessarily the inspiration for the mural, you can’t help but notice the bright one fluttering in the crowd and that small, winged person flying and watching from above.