My mother liked to celebrate special occasions in life—whether they were big or small. In particular, she loved making the dinner table look beautiful for family gatherings—I have memories of helping her polish silver until it shined brightly and setting the table with fine china.
As Chris and family were coming to my home for Easter Brunch this year, I wanted my dining room table to look “special”. I gave great thought to the table setting which explains the colorful butterflies scattered on the tablecloth.
My mother loved butterflies and I inherited her love of them. I think she viewed them as God’s way of explaining the resurrection to us and thus, it seemed doubly fitting to have them as a part of my Easter Brunch.
After all, the butterfly starts as out as a lowly caterpillar—crawling and inching its way in life—it is “exposed” to a huge world but can only “see” a very small part of it. A caterpillar has 6 tiny eyelets on each side of its head. The eyelets only help the caterpillar differentiate between light and dark….. they cannot form images. The caterpillar truly “sees” very little of the world around it. Instead, it sees only various degrees of light and darkness.
But then the metamorphosis occurs—wrapped tightly in its protective casing, the caterpillar goes though the messy process of changing and once it is done, it reappears as a butterfly—and now has colorful wings and can explore a world that was there all the time but was one the butterfly could not see or experience in its previous state. Butterflies have special color vision and can see colors and patterns that are invisible to our eyes.
In short, the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly not only affects how it looks but what it can see and do.
As you watch a butterfly, it is constantly flitting about—going from one flower to another—and I like to think it is filled with joy—the joy that comes from having wings and seeing colors and from becoming finally what God wanted it to be.
The butterfly challenges me. Some days my world feels small and dark—I let my fears and concerns overcome me and all I see is what is in front of me. I inch my way along in life….. a squishy shape that slowly crawls down a road seeing only shades of light and darkness.
I want to be more like the butterfly and less like the caterpillar—I want to see distant horizons and colors that are not visible from where I currently stand.
The truth is….. we can have wings while here on earth. They are angel wings that appear when we help others. Wearing wings made of compassion and friendship and love will allow us to fly high and see more of the world around us.
We can also have color in our lives—we can paint our world with vibrant colors by offering others a smile, a helping hand, an encouraging word.
And we can have faith—a faith of a new and better life—as demonstrated by the butterfly.
I will not lie—as I get older, the concept and finality of death becomes more real. In spite of my belief in truth of the life of Jesus Christ, I still have questions and doubts. The unknown is always a bit intimidating.
And yet…… this small creature of nature shows me how God can take what seems to be a mess—take something that should be the end—and turn it into a glorious and joyful life. But for this to take place, the caterpillar has to give itself over to the process and then, and only then, does it become transformed.
I was reminded of this during our Easter Brunch. As we ate, I pointed out pictures of my mother to my grandchildren—they sit on a corner table in my dining room—I shared a little bit about her—and how having her pictures in the room make me feel connected to her.
I imagined she could see us sitting together…..laughing and talking. She would be smiling as she saw how I have tried to carry on her traditions….. setting the table with shiny silver and fine china.
And I think she would approve of my one addition to the table….. the butterflies… and what they represent…..God’s plan of transformation for us—from a squishy mess into a creature of beauty.
It is my wish that the butterflies of spring will encourage you to look for the same hope and joy in your life.