Friday, October 25, 2013

Yellow Butterflies

There are many things on my mind that I could choose to write about this week. In the last month and a half our church split, I leaned some more things about my health, some of which are potentially quite serious, and we had a fire in the garage which filled the house with smoke and displaced me (yet again) from my home. My husband took off for a mission trip overseas and I hung out alone in a campground for five days. I’m now back to hanging out in my campervan in the driveway, while I air out the house and pray it will be habitable quickly. There are so many thoughts and feelings swirling about that it’s hard to know how to corral them into a coherent blog post. Instead of corralling them, I think I’ll ignore most of them and write about yellow butterflies.

The story of the yellow butterflies began in August two years ago. A basement flood and resulting mold growth had left me unable to be inside the house for any significant length of time. I was camped out on the back deck on my birthday, feeling somewhat sorry for myself, when a yellow butterfly landed on the rail beside me. It was just a butterfly, sitting on a deck rail, but because butterflies traditionally represent hope and new beginnings, its presence comforted me. I don’t generally keep a journal or prayer diary, but I do occasionally jot things down, and on that day I wrote the following: “While I was on the deck I first saw a butterfly that stayed a long time (sign of freedom and change?). Then I saw a praying mantis walking very slowly. Maybe change will come through prayer, but take a while?” 

A few months later, my sister’s life was hit with some significant and painful challenges. As we talked about them, she mentioned that God had spoken a message of hope and peace to her through the appearance of a yellow butterfly. I was fascinated that we had both had the same experience.

From that time on, we both began to notice yellow butterflies. They helped sustain my sister during her crisis. Once, we were talking on the phone (we live 700 miles apart) and she saw one in her yard. As soon as she mentioned it, one appeared in my yard, too. I’ve been to her house once since the first butterfly appearance, for just a few hours, but as we were sitting outside talking, a yellow butterfly flew past.

My friend Linda posts lovely pictures on Facebook and adds scripture verses to them. In July, she posted a picture of a yellow butterfly sitting among a patch of black-eyed susans and purple coneflowers. She used Ephesians 3:20, which is one of my favorite verses (“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work in us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”)  I told Linda how much I loved the picture and I told my husband and father-in-law, who was visiting, a little about it and about why it was special to me.

The day after my friend posted the picture, my husband, father-in-law and I went out for a walk. (They walk and I roll in my wheelchair, but I’m not sure what to call that.) We rounded a corner and I was treated to a beautiful sight. A yellow butterfly, identical to the one in the picture, was sitting on identical flowers. We didn’t manage to snap a picture, but my husband and father-in-law both agreed that it was a perfect re-creation of the photo. It seemed that God was reinforcing the message.

I’m writing about yellow butterflies this week, because they keep appearing. Every day in the campground I was greeted by them and sometimes they flew very close to me. I’ve had more yellow butterfly visits since I’ve been home. I realize that they’re a part of nature and that it isn’t as if I’m seeing orange elephants. Whether I’ve seen more yellow butterflies than I should normally expect to see, I don’t really know, but I know they bring me peace.

I’m sure we’ve all heard illustrations of how caterpillars enter into a vulnerable, dark place before they emerge with wings and freedom. I don’t have anything especially insightful to add. I guess I just want to remind myself, and anyone who happens to read this, that things do change, that sometimes increased challenges are a preparation for greater victory, and that no matter how long we’ve crawled along the ground, a day may come when we can fly.


DebraSY said...

Your sister is blessed to have a sister like you.

I have gotten what I believed to be a significant visit from a big bumble bee -- at my wedding.

Nature communicates. 'tis true.

Martha McLaughlin said...

The idea that God speaks through nature is definitely Biblical. A couple of verses that come to mind are Romans 1:20 (that says that through everything God made, people can clearly see his invisible qualities) and Psalm 19:1-4 ("The heavens proclaim the glory of God. . . .They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth.") I sometimes hesitate to share "God speaks through nature" stories, though. They're often so personal that they're hard to communicate to others, I think.