Sunday, January 24, 2016
A butterfly encounter
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8
...the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you. 1 Chronicles 28:9
One early summer morning, while walking on the Mastihito trails seeking communion with God, I came across a monarch butterfly in the middle of my path. Surprised that it didn't fly away, I got down on my elbows and knees and watched as it walked across the dirt and climbed blades of grass. Its wings were a bit tattered so I assumed that was why it didn't fly away. Finally I decided to go on, but as I got up I wondered if it would get on my finger. So I put my finger next to the butterfly and, to my surprise, it climbed on! Slowly I stood up and began walking and, as I walked, I talked to the butterfly.
I told it how I had never had a monarch butterfly perched on my finger before and that the experience felt magical. I explained that because nothing like this had ever happened to me before, I wondered if God was reminding me of his presence in all things and that she sought communion with me at all times. Not wanting the butterfly to think me foolish (hmmm…), I quickly added that I knew it was only my imagination and that the only reason it had stayed on my finger was that its wings were tattered and it couldn't fly. With that, the butterfly spread its wings and rose into the air and flew all about me!
Amazed, I stood there and watched until it landed on a bush beside me. By then I realized I had been mistaken and that it could fly with tattered wings. So I announced out loud (for anyone that might be listening…) that I guessed the real reason it had not flown earlier was because its wings had been wet with dew and needed time to dry. I added that what had happened was all just a coincidence and that now that its wings were dry, it certainly wouldn’t get on my finger again. Then to prove my point I went up to the bush and stuck my finger out - and, to my surprise, it climbed back on!
Not knowing what to say, I just continued walking in silence, staring at my tiny friend. As I got closer to my car, however, I excitedly began telling it how I was going to take it home and show it to everyone and then get some butterfly food to give it and then... and then it spread its beautiful orange and black wings and flew, up, up and away, above the treetops and beyond. I guess it had other plans... I just stood there in awe, watching - and I wondered if, perhaps, God was smiling…
Father/Mother God, too often we have encountered you in some special way, but we quickly deny it. We tell ourselves it was only our imagination, that we are not worthy of your interest.
But like the shepherd seeking the one lost sheep, you care about each of us individually, and like the father who embraces his prodigal son, you reach out and touch us in any way that might help us to feel your love and know the joy you experience when we respond. Help us God find the courage within to risk accepting your gifts with joy and gratitude! In Christ’s spirit we pray. Amen.