sightings (where we least expect)
They are not, of course, in the butterfly garden where they are supposed to be, not in the lane past the pretty picket fence and that rough, weathered gate that threatens splinters. I sit down on a bench in front of a high, knotted hedge thick with vines, allowing my eyes to wander over wild, delicate blooms, over so many spikey stems. Nothing. But of course, beauty rarely surfaces in the spaces we imagine for it, and vibrance hardly obeys the confines we design.Beauty rarely surfaces in the spaces we imagine for it, and vibrance hardly obeys the confines we… Click To Tweet
I stand, noting one caterpillar up high, squat and fat, well above the reach of our arms. I speculate that he’s lunching on the broad, heart-shaped leaves of the vine, but the truth is that I’m too far away to see more than just the plump line of him. As we leave, pausing under an arbor for a picture, Zoe says, “Wait, I see one. There.” She points to the top of the thicket, where we can just barely see the flutter of elegant wings. One second, maybe two, and it’s gone. I have a faint recollection of yellow in the flight, but I’m not sure I didn’t just fill in color where nothing truly overwhelmed my senses. It’s as though the garden is just a nursery, a place where butterfiles emerge from the husk only to fly on to life.
We actually make our best sightings on a root-textured trail that wanders along the lake, where we pause to count mushrooms growing on logs and stop still to watch the fish, their silvery bodies undulating along the murky edge. When we least expect it, Riley gasps, “Mom, I see one,” and lifts her hand toward the trees, where a butterfly flits, lifted on the breeze. We stand in the path, turning, willing the butterfly to settle, and finally she rests, spreading her brilliant wings against the flat leaf of a tree beside the water. She is extravagantly beautiful–rich teal and deep blue, then opulent rose at the very tips of her wings. She is the stunning picture of metamorphosis, of all things new. We are all captivated by her beauty.
Even angels long to look into these things. Just a whispered word, as we stand watching.
What surprises us about this butterfly is her stillness, stretching her wings wide against that leaf as it bends ever so slightly in the gentle wind. The water below her glints with sunlight. Kevin and Zoe creep closer, cameras poised for pictures, and still she remains. Even as they test the ground for balance where the bank slopes toward the lake, as they bend over her purchase to snap a likeness, she remains steadfast, as though held by an unseen hand. It is a gift to me, the way they maneuver over her to capture a picture, because they know that butterflies remind me of the radical way God redeems, the ravishing way He remakes us.
Even angels long to look into these things, into our new birth into a living hope, into the salvation of our souls, into the mystery of glories to come (1 Peter 1:3-12).
It had never occurred to me before that the stunning nature of our redemption could captivate the angels, that beings made of light could find our transformation unto glory worthy of observation. Do they bend toward us, unseen, to notice the elegance of His reflection in us, the color of what God has reassembled unto life? Do they find us strangely able to be still when the winds of change bend the ground beneath us?The stunning nature of our redemption captivates #angels; these beings made of light anxiously observe… Click To Tweet
One thing certainly stands true, by comparison. As redeemed souls, we must not merely make our vibrant testimonies within the confines of our cloistered spaces, but should surely spread our newly sculpted wings along the wild, root-textured path. The work that God does in us should never be more clear than as we leave our comfortable gathering places and fly through the unkempt realities of every “ordinary” day, in our neighborhoods, our communities, and across the urban landscape.