Medium Short: Fallen blossom flies

Spiritual syntax revisited

B. Lorraine Smith


Bringing a bougainvillea home via the Montreal metro guarantees active, multi-lingual conversations with total strangers. One of many adventures as I practice a new inner grammar. (Photo by me, July 2023)

Welcome to the latest Medium Short, a weekly accountability practice highlighting what I’m up to along the unmarked trail towards #IndustrialHealing. Reminder: all my Medium articles are linked for free here.

A thousand years ago, I majored in religious studies at university. This entailed a whole heap of things, many of which I’m only now coming to grasp. One thing that I delighted in then, and which feels pertinent today, is a haiku by the Japanese poet Arakida Moritake (1473–1549). Moritake’s poem was a guiding force this week.

A fallen blossom
returning to the bough, I thought —
But no, a butterfly.

There are many translations of this poem (the above is by Steven D. Carter). Each version reminds me of that threshold we cross unexpectedly, with reoriented understanding on things minute and massive.

I experience this as a kind of upgraded spiritual syntax, where a newly recognized pattern or rule-set governing the world around me is at long last snapped into place. To take the language analogy a step further, it’s as if I could “speak the language” well enough before crossing this threshold, but without realizing it (beyond a nagging feeling of not fully comprehending) I wasn’t discerning important words and phrases being uttered around me, leading to frequent misunderstandings and confusions.

Then suddenly the next level of syntax sinks in. I finally get what is being said.

This is a huge theme for me right now, no doubt at least in part because I moved. And also, no doubt, because many things around me are moving.

Side note: As someone who speaks a few languages, I realize that I am *always* going to have missing vocabulary and broken syntax, that there are *always* more layers of misunderstanding and confusion lurking just up ahead.

Still, I rejoice in those moments when the fallen blossom flying upwards turns out to be a butterfly.

Easy blossoms to butterflies

There are things so simple and obvious once they’re seen, yet until I remove my…



B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact.