Lately there’s been a mass of butterflies migrating south. First there was the mass of yellow butterflies with wings that are mostly rounded. They practically blend in with the esperanza bushes they love so much down here except that they are a softer yellow. I swear I could look out the office window and see at least 15 at a time flying through the parking lot, as though still on their morning commute. Then came the mass of brown and red butterflies–the ones speckled with white spots. They’re not the color of monarchs but a similar shape. They seem more determined and less happy-go-lucky than the yellow butterflies. And then came the mass of monarchs, though they came in fewest numbers. Did you feel each flutter? What about our heartbeats?
It’s incredible to witness each mass of butterflies and incredibly sad. I drive to work, I drive to hospitals, I drive to lunch, I drive to the beach, I drive home, and everywhere I go butterflies are flitting across the road. And getting hit by cars, getting hit by my car. It’s beautiful and horrifying when I stop to watch the butterflies. Which, of course, is dangerous because I’m usually driving as I watch. I find myself not quite slamming on my brakes but slowing down significantly, only to slam into a butterfly or three anyway. It’s unavoidable.
And yet, it makes me wonder. What pain or destruction do I cause to your Creation that is avoidable? What am I not paying attention to because it isn’t pretty enough or gentle enough to draw my eye and pull my heartstrings? Who or what do I careen toward, petal to the metal, because I’ve decided they deserve to be destroyed in some way or some part?
Do the butterflies en masse mean to you the same as a Sunday Mass? Do they weigh on your heart more? Do you feel their wings, thinner than tissue paper, crushed under tires? Do you blow the wind up under their wings to lift them up above the windshields like children play with bubbles? What delicate, gentle, beautiful, harmless, and helpless creations are you grieving the destruction of today?
I know that before resurrection comes death. Help me, God, not to get in the way of or speed past or destroy the work of resurrection you are bringing into the world.