Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where Do Butterflies Go When It Rains?

For seven days it has rained without stopping. But the morning started out dry and I looked out my window to see blooms waking up everywhere. I pulled on my boots and waded through my drenched garden, uncovering some garlic chives trying desperately to bloom underneath the goldenrod. To both of our surprise, out fluttered a yellow butterfly (Clouded Sulpher). I suppose I woke him up and it made me wonder “Where do butterflies go when it rains?” Since this morning, the sun has finally broken through the clouds and butterflies are everywhere – Black Swallowtails, Tiger Swallowtails, and oh, there’s a Gulf Fritillary – the small orange spotted ones – and more of the yellow Clouded Sulphers.

For a butterfly whose lifespan is short, seven days of rain takes away about half of their lifetime as they take shelter and hide under larger leaves or any protective garden material until the rains subside. And if the rain is pounding as it has been in Atlanta this summer, sometimes their wings get torn and they die an untimely death. I am relieved to see that the butterflies are alive and well after seven days. In fact, I am envious of their playful nature, hanging lazily upside down, flying free in the dry, warm air, putting on a show for me sitting here at my desk.

Where do we go when it rains? Usually, we just plod through with an umbrella or a jacket. But the rains in Atlanta have pelted our homes and gardens, creeped into our basements, swept away bridges and toppled trees and in doing so taken our power. Then what do we do? We get to work, call repairmen and we wait. We gather our candles and flashlights and for a little while it is quaint and inviting – the quiet that is - but we soon become impatient for life to resume some sense of normalcy.

In giving a short devotional at a meeting, I really wanted to begin by saying, “Into every life a little rain must fall” trying to make a joke about our continuous rain, but I knew that it would be interpreted in a way where people would feel sorry for me and that might make us all cry. So I chose something safer to say. But I find lessons in those butterflies. Oh, how we want to live life to the fullest. Oh, how we want to “hang upside down” and fly through life with only sunshine. Maybe we tolerate a shower or two, but certainly none of us welcome the rains that destroy and displace.

One thing is for sure, we cannot predict the weather. Oh, Dr. Feelgood thinks he can. He watches weather patterns like he watches stock charts and can tell you two weeks out what you might expect “in your part of the country” as Al Roker would say. We cannot predict the rainfall for our lives, nor would any of us want to know the forecast. But we can plan for rainy days, do everything we can to protect and provide, and then armed we can seek shelter from the storm. How? Well, sometimes we hide like the butterflies – hopefully not under rocks or leaves, but behind masks of self-preservation and a simple will to survive. But healthier ways are to seek shelter with our family and friends. We find comfort in being with our church family. We find strength in personal study of scriptures like “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” Isaiah 43:2.
It’s been dark and gloomy for a solid week. I’ve hidden myself a little. But the sun is out. The butterflies are tapping on my window. I think I might go outside.