One morning, Hannah led me to a butterfly floating in the cat’s water bowl. “Can we save it?” she asked. “I want to keep it for a pet.” Doubtful as to a successful outcome, I replied, “We’ll see.”
I scooped up the butterfly with a slotted spoon, careful not to to touch it’s water-saturated wings. We watched it for some time, until Hannah’s sharp, four-year-old eyes detected an almost imperceptible quiver of it’s body. “See, it’s alive!” she proclaimed. It trembled again, and I cautiously agreed, “Yes, but I don’t know if it will ever fly again.”
Hannah held the spoon close to her t-shirt. With drooping, useless wings, the butterfly crawled from the spoon, and clung weakly to her shirt. “I’m going to take care of my pet butterfly,” she stated confidently. Throughout the morning, I checked on the pair. “Oh, it’s watching television with me!” Hannah exclaimed. Later, I observed the butterfly, now with properly folded wings, as Hannah read a book, and dressed and swaddled her dolls. The butterfly was well-behaved during lunch.
In the early afternoon, Hannah called out, “Mom, my butterfly wants to fly!” Sure enough, the butterfly, still clinging to her shirt, was methodically pumping it’s wings up and down in a flying motion. I explained that it would be difficult to keep alive in the house, and it needed to be outdoors so that it could find some lunch.
In the front yard, Hannah offered a finger to her pet. It perched there for a several minutes, continuing to try out its wings. Finally, it took off, and began a rather wobbly ascent. We waved, and called out blessings as it flew ever-higher. “Have a good life!” “We love you!” “You’re a special butterfly!”
While still in the midst of bidding good-bye to the winged beauty, I detected a fast-flying mockingbird out of the corner of my right eye. In a matter of seconds, the mockingbird gobbled the butterfly for lunch.
Hannah and I turned to face each other in disbelief. Her upturned face also held a question for me: “How does one respond to a situation like this?” Quickly, I realized that I had been handed an opportunity to teach a life-truth.
As we watched the mockingbird fly to a nearby tree, I explained that God has a plan and a purpose for everything. Long ago, He planned that all living creatures would need to eat lunch, and that the mockingbird needed to eat. We discussed that although it didn’t seem fair that our cat ate beautiful cardinals, and that our dog ate the cute toads in the backyard, God still had a plan, and it was a good plan.
We thanked God that He feeds mockingbirds and people. As we walked back into the house, Hannah and I rejoiced that a butterfly had made itself at home on her shirt for an entire morning.