I recently visited the new Butterfly Atrium at the Hershey Gardens with my family. It’s a wonderful place, perfectly setup as a walk-through experience inside a butterfly’s world. There were colorful flowers and plants, a little stream, and big chunks of fruit set out, where butterflies lounged and filled up on nectar. There were all kinds of butterflies: from teeny tiny ones to ginormous. We walked through on the path, watching each step since the butterflies roam free, flitting to and from wherever they please. While may were in flight from here to there at any given time, we found some hanging from flowers, others clung to the windows, and a few liked to plop down right in the middle of the path. Everyone carefully approached to get a close look at their wings and take some pictures of these amazing creatures. I was thinking how special the experience was…and how different it would be if it were any other bug. I mean, nobody wants to visit all sorts and sizes of spiders in their natural habitat! There’s something about butterflies that makes us feel comfortable and even a little mystified. Then…out of no where, a butterfly landed right on my nose! And do you know what happened? Nobody shooed it off. No one rolled up a news paper to swat it. And I had zero urges to flick it away. Instead, everyone responded with incredible delight, treating me as specially chosen by this butterfly. Phones and cameras emerged and we all giggled until it finally detached its sticky little feet from my face and flew away. It would have been so different if it were any other bug.
In the days after that experience, I’ve wondered how people would respond to me if I were a bug. Are there qualities about me that sting like a bee? or smell like a stink bug? or cause concern like a mosquito? Do I have a problem with boundaries like ants at a picnic or drone on loudly like a locust? I hope not! I really want to be like a butterfly. I want people to feel at ease–and even special if I come close. And the good news is: God wants us to be like that, too! The fruit of His Spirit certainly makes us beautifully attractive: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) None of those are scary or intimidating–and we are marked by those qualities because of Jesus living in our hearts. If you don’t feel like those things describe you very well, I’ve got more good news: Jesus Christ makes us into a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old stuff is gone–and we are transformed. That’s something butterflies can relate to! 🙂