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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Metamorphosis: Book Club Discussion #2

This is the second in a series of blogs for book clubs and discussion groups who are reading my book, A Thin Slice of Heaven. Weigh in below, or send me an email through my website letting me know the results of your book club or group discussion.
My May online book tour is well underway and I am giving away a beautiful Celtic butterfly suncatcher to one lucky follower. All you have to do is follow the tour, leave comments and click on the Rafflecopter icon. The more comments you leave, the better your chances of winning.

So what is the significance of the Celtic butterfly suncatcher?

In A Thin Slice of Heaven, Charleigh loves butterflies. In the scene that follows, she is in the village with Sean during the snowstorm. The streets are empty and the shops are closed. They've dismounted from the horse so she can peek into the windows of the shops.

“Look,” she said, pointing to a sun catcher in the window. “A butterfly.”

His voice was soft and though she turned her gaze back to the sun catcher, she could feel his eyes remaining on her. “You love butterflies, don’t you now?”

“I do. How did you know?”

He shrugged. “From the way in which your face lit when you spied it.”

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” She stared at the hand-painted butterfly with its alternating rows of yellow and orange fringed with black. “It has meaning, you know. It’s like the metamorphosis of life in one tiny creature. They start their existence as a tiny egg on a leaf, so miniscule that most people wouldn’t even know it was there. Then they hatch into a caterpillar, all chubby body and spindly legs. Quite ugly, in fact.” She chuckled. “They eat and they eat and when they can eat no more, they attach themselves to a branch and just hang there. From the outside, it looks like nothing is happening. But the metamorphosis is taking place on the inside. Until finally, the wings emerge, all soft and gooey. The caterpillar pumps blood into the wings until they grow large and strong, capable of making it fly away.”

“I have heard,” Sean said thoughtfully, “that every soul’s journey takes place first on the inside before it is manifested on the outside.”

“Exactly!” She whirled around to face him. “You’re the only one I’ve ever met who understood that.”

“Not the only one, I’m quite sure.”

“Oh, but you are. Most people would have heard my explanation and thought it nothing more than whimsical ramblings. You understood.”

He pointed toward the sun catcher. “You see the pattern around the butterfly? That symbolizes the Celtic cycle of life. Though you might search, you will never find a beginning nor will you find an end.”

The butterfly symbolizes Charleigh's own transformation in the book. When she arrives at the castle, she is tired, overworked and anxious. When her husband sends a text saying he's leaving her for another woman, she imagines the woman to be much younger and much more beautiful than she. But as the story progresses, she learns that her soul is beautiful.

The Celtic design depicting the endless cycle of life is also symbolic. She learns through Sean that Life does not end when the physical body ceases to exist. The soul's energy is transformed and carries on.

When they stop to eat a picnic lunch that one of the employees of the castle packed for her, they have a discussion about this cycle:

She offered him a thick slice of ham. “Can you eat food like this?” she asked, her brow furrowing.

In response, he bit a chunk out of it and closed his eyes in appreciation as he chewed. When he opened them, she was watching him curiously. “Aye,” he said. He held up the remainder of the slice. “When you’re in a purely physical form, you think of everything around you as being substantive. Yet, it is all an illusion. Everything is made up of energy of some sort or another.” He waggled the ham. “So I am merely joining its energy with my own.”

“But—I mean—” Her eyes traveled to his torso. She felt a blush warming her cheeks and she diverted her gaze to her own slice of ham.

He chuckled. “Ah, but you’re wondering what happens to it once it passes my lips.” He took another bite and chewed for a moment before answering. “I taste it more keenly. I feel the texture more deeply. I am conscious of where it came from, in a purely esoteric sort of way. Then its energy becomes intertwined with my own. Without the physical organs that a living human being possesses, the energy simply flows out of me—” he held his arm up as if she could see a vapor rising out of it “—and it remains one with the universe.”

“That is way too deep for me to comprehend.”

“Ah, but comprehend you will. Some day.”

“And the pig?” She held her slice a short distance from her mouth and debated whether she wanted it now.

“Ah, the pig lives on. As I said, there is no death. Only transitions.”

Spoiler Alert : If you have not read the book yet, don't read beyond this point!

For those who have read the book, you know that these discussions mean something far more. Charleigh is herself transitioning, though she does not yet know it. She is transitioning from a physical, human life in the current day to the other side of the veil. She is in a cocoon herself, believing that her life consists only of the small bubble each of us finds ourselves living, and yet she doesn't yet know how close she is to breaking out of that cocoon and becoming transformed as a spirit with no beginning and no end.

The cycle of Life is apparent within and around her, and Sean is gently leading her to discover this realization herself.

You can purchase A Thin Slice of Heaven in any book store. It is also available in all major eBook formats. Find it here on amazon in paperback or in a Kindle version.