This side of 60…

Posted 11/4/99

It was one of the last days of summer. And fo…

By Marie Snider

The God of the Butterflies will care for you

It was one of the last days of summer. And for the butterfly house at the …

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This side of 60…


It was one of the last days of summer. And fo…

By Marie Snider

The God of the Butterflies will care for you

It was one of the last days of summer. And for the butterfly house at the botanical gardens it was the very last day.

Tomorrow the beautiful plants the butterflies loved would be taken out and replaced with new plantings. And the butterfly paradise that had flourished all summer would end. Autumn had come and winter was just around the corner.

But still, we had this last summery day to enjoy. As perfect a day as you could ever imagine. Sunny and carefree. A rare invitation to beauty. A day to share with friends from afar. And we walked the paths of the butterfly house with delight.

Tall banks of flowers lined the meandering path. Purple, red, yellow, orange-all growing in a glorious profusion of color. A splashing waterfall with colorful plants tucked in every crevice. Short white flowers with yellow centers hugging the edge of the walk.

And all around us butterflies floating and flitting. Alone and in pairs. Blending and contrasting with the flowers around them. Sipping nectar and preening their wings. Their numbers were fewer than earlier in the season, but oh the glory of the ones that remained!

The Zebra butterfly-long and flat with zebra stripes on its wings. The bright, bright orange Julia butterfly. The majestic Queen butterfly-deep orange edged in black. The Florida White butterfly, perfectly described by its name.

The Tiger Swallowtail and the Cloudless Sulphur. All afloat together in a glorious day of sun and happiness. As William Shakespeare once said, it was enough to make you "laugh at gilded butterflies."

Butterflies will do that to you, you know. They'll make you want to laugh and play. And run and splash in the summer sun.

But even as we immersed ourselves in the moment, Rae remembered that the butterfly house was to be closed for the winter tomorrow. Pensively, she asked, "I wonder if they know this is their last day."

And deep inside a chord of sadness and anxiety reminded us of the poignancy of life. The inescapable certainty that wintry November would surely follow sunny October.

Nineteenth century poet Thomas Hood wrote poignantly of November, "No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease…No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees/No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds/November!"

To be human is to fear that November will come. And that chilling knowledge can always cast a cloud of anxiety over October's sunny days.

To be a butterfly is to live in the moment. To bask in the sun and sip the nectar. To hover over the waterfall and frolic with the other butterflies. With no thought about tomorrow.

It was many centuries ago when Jesus said, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin."

He spoke of birds and grasses, and he could have mentioned butterflies. Clothed in beauty. Fed by nectar. Carefree in the moment. Trusting in the future.

"For," said Jesus, "which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?" Or…one year unto his life.

The future simply isn't ours to know. Whether butterflies or humans, we need to live today and trust in the rightness of tomorrow. So think about it.

Whatever your religious beliefs, do you have the courage to place your future confidently in the hands of the God you worship? And the joyous optimism to live this day to the fullest—like a butterfly—carefree in the moment.

Copyright 1999 Marie Snider