Today my daughter spent several hours caring for a butterfly without wings – a butterfly that would not normally live, that would have died shortly after emerging from it’s chrysallis. What she has is an oddly-shaped bug; something long and bulgy and black with fragments of wings trailing behind it. Something we never notice when it’s borne aloft on butterfly wings, but something that becomes an almost-obscene oddity when so exposed.
My daughter reached out to it, giving it a finger to cling to so it could drag itself from its incompletely opened chrysallis, waiting and watching for over an hour as it struggled to free itself from what was almost its tomb. It still drags a piece of the chrysalis behind it. She carefully extended its proboscis into a saucer of sweetened water and helped it to feed. She kept the cats from becoming too interested. She held it, she studied it, she gave it her utmost consideration. she cared.
What a waste of time! It’s just a bug and tomorrow we expect to find it dead. Why bother?
Today, my daughter showed me something very special. I understand her caring because, though she might hate ugly bugs in general, she knows and loves butterflies. This bug will never be a butterfly like other butterflies; it will never spread wide those blazing wings and stroke the breeze. It is a crawler, at best. But it was intended for beauty. And we know, from all the butterflies that have made it into the light, that it is beautiful in the intention of God. That an inimical environment or cruel chance or genetic fluke have rendered it otherwise is beyond my comprehension to explain. But I am glad that this one, at least, was not beyond my daughter’s care.
This is what we understand when we uphold the sanctity of life in every human being. Not every butterfly is beautiful – some are ugly and short-lived. They may be ‘useless’, but they are ours and we hold them in honour because the intention of their creator is for them to be as loved and loving as any other. We may never see even a glimpse of that intention on this earth – but, by God, we will see it one day – and every butterfly will have wings.