Tuesday, June 26, 2012

If A Life Has Mere Hours Left

I find the butterfly minutes after we return home from my three little fishes' early swimming lessons.

She lies on the carport in the dust, half covered by the uncoiled watering hose she must have crawled beneath in a desperate attempt to escape our one-year-old hunter cat.

This one who not an hour before majestically took to the sky now rests, defeated, in tattered rags, a remnant of the beauty God created her to be.  While her body appears intact, both hind wings are all but gone, the large fore wing in tatters and the right least damaged one almost transparent, missing most of its scales.

The damage is already done. Irreparable.

I pick her up, certain she is already dead.  Yet, at my touch, she flaps her wings wobbly, slowly, instinctually exerting any remaining energy to escaping my hands, to just be left alone.

My shoulders slump at the loss.  She will never soar again.  Likely, she will not last the day.


Two years into life on the farm and this is the first summer with brilliant colored flowers brushed across the landscape.  Golden glowing lantana, snowy white verbena, and vibrant pink vinca fill to overflowing the flower beds lining our carport.

Unlike the two summers before with only the the fritillaries, painted ladies, sulphurs, skippers, and buckeyes visiting the near-invisible purple blossoms atop the Genovese basil bushes, this season's brightly-colored rainbow array attracts the big butterflies.

Living art begets more living art, all beautiful to behold.

No longer do the swallowtails merely fly through on their way to my mother-in-law's Eden across the hay field.  Instead, they stay awhile, feasting on dewy goodness both morning and evening as they attract the attention of both woman, child, and beast.

As I watch her flap anxiously, I become intimately acquainted with beauty's fleeting nature, witness a literal manifestation of Paul's reminder that all is "here today, gone tomorrow."

I know it's ridiculous, but with children lately watching too closely how I treat God's creatures big and small, I take her inside anyway, place her in the butterfly cage with a single crimson zinnia and small dish of sugar water to strengthen her should she recover.

By late afternoon, she still hasn't moved.  Oldest son stands before the cage, him speaking hushed, somber words as he asks the tough questions about life and death, about whether Hannah was naughty for hurting the butterfly or just following her own nature.

I pick her body up once more, and she doesn't move.  Death has finally come.

I remind Wyatt that we did the best we could but it was just too late.

This is just the way life is, comings and goings, living and dying, beauty created and destroyed...all until creation's curse is lifted and time is no more.

Wyatt listens seriously, his ever-bouncing feet oddly still, then bends to air kiss this former beauty.  At his touch, just like Snow White, she awakens, flaps her wings maybe for the last time, just for him.

Triumph. Smile lights his eyes.  "Look!  She's alive!"

By morning, the light will be gone.  But the reminder will remain, at least for a little while

The fleeting beauty and gift that is life--

It is precious.

Life is precious.

It is worth celebrating, worth remembering, and worth protecting.

Even if there are mere hours left.


  1. OK. I think I've said this so many times here, but I have to say it again: You are a GREAT writer.

    My, my.

  2. I just look at it as my God gives me GREAT subject matter--if I only take the time to stop and listen. I'm thankful for you, for teaching me how to really look at everything big and small.

  3. Hello my name is Jasmine and I appreciate the time you put into your blogs. They are really good. I discovered your blogs about a years ago.

  4. This made me concentrate about your story and sharing... and THEN it made me GRIN!!! And think YIPPEE!! [or spiritually speaking... HALLELUJAH!!] Enjoyed this much.