Look out your window. Is it springtime where you are? Here, the butterflies dance among the blue lupine and hover over the sweet-smelling new grasses covering our hillside.
As a teen, butterflies represented anxiety for me. I always “got butterflies” before I had to do a class presentation. My mom told me that we don’t get rid of butterflies – we just have to get them to fly in formation. I rolled my eyes at her, and the butterflies kept fluttering in my stomach.
Lately, though, I’ve discovered that this anxiety goes much deeper. No longer is it simply the nerves about doing something foreign or uncomfortable. Now, these butterflies have become a symbol of change. In the springtime, as it is now here in California, the butterflies are beautiful representations of the possibilities that change can promise us, but in winter, when even the caterpillars have yet to hatch and we are on the opposite end of that new springtime growth, change seems anything but beautiful.
I attended a funeral last week. A loving mother battled cancer for a year. When she passed, she left behind 5 little ones in need of tender nurturing. She was their “sun, moon and stars.” Their lives are forever changed – their very existence forever altered. This makes my heart ache to hold them in her place. I want to envelope them in a cocoon of comfort that will let them know how very much they are loved. This type of loss is so far beyond what our mortal minds can handle. We know the words of Truth. We know the promises of our God – but we ache just the same.
Occasionally, my boys encounter a caterpillar crawling slowly along the ground to the finish line – the cool, damp dirt and nutrient-rich plants. They imagine how that slow-moving caterpillar will morph into a spectacular butterfly. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly at this time of year is part of their life cycle. The change itself isn’t beautiful, but it is necessary.
Last week, I watched those five little children enter a cocoon of grief together while they clutched each others’ hand as they sat together on the wooden pew. I pray that this season of change will make something beautiful for them, even in their sorrow.
As I watched Erin Krakow crumple in the middle of Main Street at the end of this week’s episode, I didn’t cry for her. I cried for those five little ones. Just as her voice cracked with “No! No! No!” my spirit screamed for those children. Then, I cried for my best friend who lost her mom the day after Christmas when we were 17. I cried for my son, who broke down in tears at the death of his beloved character, Jack. This little community of Hope Valley isn’t meant to be idyllic or without hardship. Instead, it is meant to reflect life and encourage us in how we deal with the trials of an imperfect world that is not our home. Dealing with the loss of a fictional character may one day, I hope and pray, help my son learn to deal with the loss of a flesh-and-blood loved one.
My heart is warmed by the fact that my little almost-nine-year-old son loves a fictional character so much that he cries over him. If he can show that much emotion for a make-believe hero, how much more will he show love to his real-life heros? My boy is learning the very thing we prayed for him before his birth: compassion. To comfort him, do you know what I did? I had him climb up on my lap and I wrapped him in a cocoon of love. I held him tightly in my arms and rocked him, and I prayed that his tender heart will always be open to loving others.
When the joy of our present circumstance is rocked with unfathomable change, God wraps us in a cocoon, too. A cocoon of love, forgiveness, and grace. A cocoon of discipline, correction, and refining. This process isn’t pretty. In fact, it can be gut-wrenching and incredibly messy, but He will make something beautiful out of it. As the author and perfecter of our faith, we must trust Him with the transformation.
What do butterflies represent for me now? They are the glory of God amidst struggles – the beauty unfolding in a period of loss, and the enveloping love of God.