By: Melody Wallace
As I was headed to work the other day I saw the most beautiful monarch butterfly. Unfortunately, I was not in a country field or a nearby park, I was on Highway 60. Before I ever had a chance to appreciate how exquisite this creature was, it hit my windshield with a SMACK! and bounced off into the unknown. I spent the rest of the morning worrying about what had become of that butterfly, and then I found myself starting to identify with it. When you think about it, we are not that much different than the butterfly. We start off our lives in the comfort and safety of a warm cocoon then stretch out our wings to explore new surroundings. As some of us are soaring through life, enjoying the view, the surroundings begin to change, and before we know it…SMACK! We hit face first into a windshield. Each of us has our own “windshield” to contend with. For some of us it is divorce or a failed relationship, for others it is the sudden loss of a job or a loved one. Sometimes the descent is long and frightening, while other times it is more of a quick shock to the system. Initially we may feel stunned and disoriented, as though we may never take flight again. Often times we are left feeling damaged, scarred, or as if we are carrying the world’s baggage. These are the marks that should not define us, but should help to strengthen and build our character.
Interestingly, when scientists want to learn about the life and travels of a butterfly they find they can learn a great deal by examining its wings. Brand new butterflies have nearly perfect wings, while more experienced butterflies’ wings may appear old and tattered. What truly amazes these scientists is that some butterflies whose wings display scratches, tears, worn spots, or are even missing over half of a wing still manage to find a way to fly. Losing a job that brought you joy and security may leave your wings scratched and torn, or losing a loved one through death or divorce may leave you feeling as though part of you is missing.
One of the most indelible pictures of the monarch displayed a “v” shaped imprint on one of its wings. Incredibly a bird that was trying to capture and eat the butterfly made this mark. I think of some of the people I have met in this life who have been attacked by “predators” or have been hit by the proverbial windshields of cancer, the loss of a spouse, or the death of a child. These people seem to have dealt with more than their share of burdens, yet they are the ultimate picture of grace. These are the people that wear the scars on their wings as character building beauty marks, rather than blemishes of defeat.
The encouraging news is that we really are at an advantage in comparison to the butterfly, even though it feels as though we have so much to accomplish and so little time to accomplish it. The average lifespan of a butterfly is just a few weeks. In this time the butterfly must find a mate, generate offspring, provide for that offspring, and avoid predators, while still maintaining to care for and feed itself. It really puts into perspective our own lives. Some of us have an entire lifetime–decades to find and share with a mate and care for our children. We have friends and family members that can provide branches of support and shelter when predators attack. As humans we are lucky that we do not have to explore and experience this world alone.
Contemplating all of these comparisons just further instills in me that each day is a blessing. Although there will be inclement weather to dampen our wings, predators to avoid, and the occasional unforeseen windshield, we must remember this…We are all beautiful butterflies, with our own unique scratches and tears and we need to brush off our wings each day and see how high we can soar.