I was playing outside with Mia, my 18-month-old granddaughter, a few weeks ago when a butterfly decided to join the party.
At first, it just circled, to Mia’s delight. Then, it decided to land, not more than a foot from Mia’s hand.
While the butterfly was harmless, Mia was not sure that her visitor had friendly intentions. She hid behind me in delightful fear.
The butterfly took wing, and Mia was again in awe and filled with joy.
The butterfly came back for another visit. Mia watched but kept her distance until it flew away again.
Mia and l enjoy looking out the back window of the house at our butterfly bush. The window provides a safe distance from these strange winged creatures that Mia is beginning to warm up to.
She hasn’t graduated to three-syllable words yet, but her pointing and garbled gibberish communicates that she knows when one of our winged friends has come for a visit to our favorite bush.
After we experienced wind gusts of 60 miles per hour as Hurricane Irma, then a tropical storm, moved through Georgia, we had three houses on our street with tree damage. The butterfly bush had a few broken limbs but maintained most of its blooms.
The day after the storm, Mia was back at the window looking for butterflies. Before long, one appeared.
It made me wonder, where did a creature that weighs only about a half-gram take refuge in such a storm?
The resiliency of the butterfly is seen in the people of the U.S. and all of the other nations impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as they repair homes, power lines and roads as well as grieve the many losses, including the loss of life.
Storms come and they go. There will be more, as they are a part of life. They leave a path of destruction, which leaves us sad, depressed, angry and grieving.
However, within the human spirit exists a spark of the divine, a spark of hope, like the rainbow that spreads out across the sky after a flood.
There is within us a resolve to pick up and rebuild, to reach out and to help our neighbor, to share what we have with one another and to start again.
Seeing a monarch butterfly pollinate a broken branch of a butterfly bush is a powerful image. It reminds us that there is beauty in living out our purpose even when setbacks have occurred.
Part of that purpose for the butterfly is moving from one bush to another, not for the sole benefit of itself, but for the benefit of all the blossoms in the neighborhood. Therein lies a valuable lesson for us.
We shouldn’t need storms or butterflies to remind us that we should be like this all the time, working not just for our own sakes but also for the benefit of others.
I hope Mia will learn this selfless spirit from the butterfly. I hope she will be giving, caring and kind.
For one who seems so delicate now, I want her to develop the butterfly’s resiliency and its ability to bless others.
I think she already has its beauty. But, of course, I am a bit partial.
Michael Helms is pastor of First Baptist Church in Jefferson, Georgia.