Did you know there was a day set aside for butterflies? National Learn About Butterflies Day, is what they call it.
And so, I have to tell you about a butterfly we have visiting our yard every day. She is very special and a Monarch.
She hatched from an egg laid on my milkweed plants. Nothing unusual about that. But we have some busy lizards who seem to think baby caterpillars look like striped candy! One lizard plays a game of grabbing tiny caterpillars, jerking them off a stem or leaf, and tossing them away. So, I saved one Monarch caterpillar. We’ll call her Baby for this blog post.
I put Baby in a special jar I have for hatching butterflies. Within a week or so, on a Sunday morning, I realized I needed to release her. She had hatched, and her wings had stiffened into beautiful orange, black, and white colors. She was a perfect Monarch and lovely.
As we left for church, I let her cling to my finger, and I took her outside. She fluttered her wings in the sunlight. I knew she wasn’t ready to take a long flight, so I placed her within the branches of a small palm. She was still there when we came home, so I moved her to a different location on the palm. A short time later, she took off, using her wings for the first flight. She circled higher and higher, toward the top of an oak, and I went inside. She had left.
The following Sunday, we came home from church, and a butterfly came fluttering over our heads, circling and dipping in the gentle breeze. She landed on a milkweed plant.
I told my husband, “I bet that’s my butterfly.” We watched her for a moment, but I soon said, “I bet I can touch her.”
I slowly reached toward her and softly touched the sides of her body. She didn’t care!
She has hung around, since then, showing up and exploring the milkweed plants. She still likes to head for the palm tree and comes very close to me. My husband couldn’t stand being left out, so he tried touching her … and she sat still long enough for his fingers to almost touch her dark body, and then, she drifted up over his head.
I do believe it’s Baby! I’ve never had a butterfly act that way.
We have some cold weather coming, and there are caterpillars all over the milkweed plants. I never saw so many! But lizards are everywhere. They are probably playing “Toss the Caterpillar” when I’m not looking! So yesterday, I collected some of the caterpillars and put them in the special jar, with a huge bundle of leaves. They have grown over night! Five have already shed their striped coats and are waiting for the moment they can hatch and fly.
I’ll release them when they hatch. It is so much fun to watch the whole process. I’ve been doing it ever since I was a little girl in Michigan. Dad took pictures of butterflies hanging on my ears. I think every child should see the wonderful process from egg, to caterpillar, and then butterfly. And I’m glad there is a National Learn About Butterflies Day!
Then we got a cold snap. I feared the caterpillars would suffer harm, so I collected all of them. I put them in a jar for the night and gave them a supply of leaves. As the weather warmed the next day, I transferred them back to the stems of the plants. They continued to grow.
Two days ago, during another chilly morning, I went outside to fill the chickens’ water containers. But there was a caterpillar underneath the first loop of the water hose. Nope … that’s not a good place to establish even a temporary home.
I carefully removed him. He was cold, stiff, and not moving. I brought him in the house, put him in my “caterpillar jar” with some sticks, and sat the jar in an inch of warm water. He finally started wiggling and crawled up the side of the jar, got on a stick and crawled downward. Last night he attached himself to the stick and hung upside down. But he chose to hang close to the bottom of the jar! That’s not a wise place to hang out.
This morning I checked on him. He hung there, wiggling slightly. I thought, yep, he’s ready to shed his outer covering. I took the dog out and came back in. The caterpillar had thrown off his old, dark rags, and he hung there in a new green suit. I missed seeing the transformation! But I continued to watch him.
The chrysalis wiggled, and I wished I could see inside, to see the amazing process take place. With each wiggle, the green casing changed shape. The top thickened and rounded, the length shortened. A gold dotted line brightened around the top like a crown. The chrysalis grew fatter, firmer, and smoother. It took about thirty minutes, and I snapped pictures.
Now, the chrysalis hangs from the branch, much too close to the bottom of the jar. I will tape the branch higher up in a day or so, so the butterfly will have room to lengthen and flex its wings when it hatches out of confinement.
How like human life. We’re like that caterpillar—often going the wrong direction, hiding in the wrong spot, sinking to the bottom of life, and trying to do things on our own.
God picks us up, warms us with his love, and offers forgiveness. He places us next to his heart and watches over us as we begin the transformation. It quite often takes a long time for us to change, to wiggle through circumstances, throw off the old life, toss away bad habits, and drop the stained and wrinkled garments of sin.
Then life takes on a new, bright appearance. But we are still growing, developing a heart for God, and changing with his guidance. We appear different. People have no problem seeing that we’ve left the old life behind. Some watch us with awe—remembering how we once crawled through life, getting into tight spots.
We mature under God’s direction. And there is coming a day when the shell of this earthy life will split asunder and we will awaken in radiance and beauty. We’ll experience the newness of our appearance; past woes will be tossed aside. We shall lift off this earth to soar in the heavenly realms, higher than any butterfly has ever gone.
“In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.” Colossians 3:10 NLT
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it touches your heart and makes you realize that God wants the best for us.
© Karen Campbell Prough
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