Playdates with God: Chasing Butterflies

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Green thickens on nearby hills and the yard has become a lush terrarium in which to lose myself. Lately, we have noticed large numbers of butterfly visitations—mostly the Tiger Swallowtail, but also some Black Swallowtails and smaller varieties too. These pilgrims seem tired, and I have noticed many are missing parts of their wings and their scales have been rubbed off until the wing is translucent. These raggedy guests seem a marking of the coming of summer’s end, and I watch with bittersweet emotion as they unwind their long tongues to taste my purple coneflower.

Always curious, I’ve been reading about the butterfly, which—like moths—are in the class Lepidoptera. Lepidos is Greek for “scales” and ptera means “wing.” I remember as a little girl my mother cautioning me not to touch the butterflies, for to do so would be to rub off some of its wing scales and endanger the beautiful creature. One source confirms this, telling me the scales “protect and insulate the insects and aid in the flow of air along their wings as they fly.” And they may also help the cold-blooded butterfly absorb heat into its wings. Butterflies cannot fly unless their body temperature is above eight-six degrees.

I read that there are some 28,000 species of butterflies worldwide and hosting the Tigers in my garden is the sweetest of all hospitalities. Something in their raggedy countenance this time of year awakens in me desire—desire to care for, desire to protect. At the least, a desire to provide comfort in their last days.

Endings are never easy. Some of you may have heard that The High Calling has decided to end its relationship with the editors who have worked for them these past few years. This is a hard goodbye, one we did not see coming, and so we are working through that grief, together and separately. I started volunteering for The High Calling back in 2009, when it was still a fledgling. In those early days, we made it our priority to make space for the small voice—to encourage new writers and mentor them in growing. As we changed our direction numerous times, I carried that mission with me, always trying to use my position to give voice to lesser known writers and provide platform opportunities. I know of few other online places who do this—so many spaces vying for the big names. This is just one of the unique qualities of a special place that will be missed. For me, this letting go is compounded by preparing to send our eldest off to college in a few weeks. I have felt such sadness in my spirit—it feels like my wings have a few less scales. But at the same time, there is beauty.

For to sorrow over a goodbye means that there was something of immense value that one is being parted from. And there has been so much to value in my time at The High Calling. It has been a lovely experience, one I will forever be grateful for. The connections I’ve made and the ways that I’ve grown through them will be a slow reveal, I think—something I will continue to live into for many years.

I may have more to say about that later, but for now, I will keep chasing butterflies.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

Comments

  1. says

    It’s been a joy, Laura. If not for the High Calling, I wonder if our paths would have crossed? I’m so very grateful for my very real friendship with you. Peace, friend.

    • says

      And I am grateful for you, D. I think I found you first at (in)Courage–in that beautiful picture Harry took of you that made you look so tall :). But I know I wouldn’t have gotten to know you so well, and love you so without The High Calling. I hope our paths keep crossing for a long, long time.

  2. says

    This is a wonderful way to articulate the change. Thank you. I remember being on one of those very first conference calls back in 2009 and seeing you. You’re still my friend and always will be.

    • says

      Ah! I forgot you were on that first call! Yes, and then I was so disappointed when you decided it wasn’t right for you just then. But we became good friends anyway :). One of my regrets is not getting to run with you! But we did take that nice walk down to family camp together and that was fun. Yes, you will always be my friend.

  3. says

    I didn’t know about butterflies needing a certain temperature of heat to fly. Very interesting and applicable to us. Thanks for sharing this, Laura. You’re going through some “hot” times right now; praying for you to fly above them, friend.

  4. says

    Endings are never easy…no they are not! Yet, they happen all the time all around me. Thank you for these insightful words about butterflys, endings and The High Calling. You writing always gives me pause and makes me think about things in a new way….this post is no exception. Thank you, Laura.

    • says

      Thank you, Mary, for your encouragement. How are you, my friend? You are so right when you say that endings are always happening. I’m trying to keep the “one door closes, another door opens” kind of mindset. :). Hugs to you.

  5. says

    “…to sorrow over a goodbye means there was something of immense value…”
    Beautifully said, Laura. You came to my house. We went down to the old Lockmaster’s house together. You took pictures. We would not have met, if not for THC. And now this past Spring, i was privileged to see you serve Communion to many after giving a memorable and moving talk about seeing beyond labels, and our role in helping each other step into our true name. Unexpected change makes for some of the biggest steps necessary in that journey. Blessing on you as you take yours!

    • says

      This is a great bit of wisdom, Marilyn: “Unexpected change makes for some of the biggest steps necessary in that journey.” Yes. When it all comes down to it, this entire ride with The High Calling was unexpected. A beautiful, unexpected journey. And meeting you and becoming friends was one of the loveliest stops along the way!

  6. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Laura, I know you know that I am passionate about butterflies, and God has taught me so much through them, and in the end, they bring me comfort, as I pray they will you. They have a fleeting life, to be sure, but I see them as such a larger metaphor for new life and resurrection. They start as the caterpillar and then experience unwanted death in the chrysalis, miraculous transformation, and ultimate flight. I hear your pain. I am so very, very sorry. Endings are often (actually usually in my life) so painful, and often, like what you are experiencing now, so unexpected, which I think makes them all the harder. I read your link, and it didn’t seem clear to me until I read through some of the comments at THC. It appears that finances have a lot to do with it. But so often I have found that the pain of death for the Christian (right here in this transient life) is but birth pains in disguise leading to something more–larger life, better life. You, precious Laura, possess in your soul, the grace and beauty of a butterfly. You will continue to spread your lovely wings of poetic beauty over fresh, new fields of flowers. You will go wherever *He* pleases, and please wherever you go. This death, this ending, I believe is the prelude to something new and vast and beautiful. Let the comforting breath of His Spirit lift your wings, buoy your spirit, and set you free to fly.
    All my love,
    Lynn
    PS And I am so grateful for your grace in permitting me to be a one-time contributor to the High Calling professional series on art. I was very touched by your gracious invitation and most appreciative of your belief in my writing!

    • says

      Ah, Lynn, yours is the voice of wisdom. Thank you. “Birth pains in disguise.” That is a beautiful thought, my friend. I am so grateful we were able to feature your beautiful writing before this journey had to come to an end! And the archives will remain up, so you will have access to that to share indefinitely, so they tell me. Thank you for your sweet, encouraging words. I will treasure them.

      • Lynn D. Morrissey says

        You are precious to me, Laura. Thank you for these kind words (and yet again, your encouragement to *me*!), and know I am praying for a season of grace and comfort for you as you let go this particular editor job. And, Laura, please forgive me. In all my concern over THC, I inadvertently forgot to express my empathy over this expected transition of your son. Is this Teddy? And still, even with the expectation of our children spreading their colorful butterfly wings and flying, it is really, really hard. (Good grief! I grieved when Sheridan went to kindergarten (!), and I stood in the school playground, tears slipping down my cheeks as she slipped over the threshold and the door closed behind her on her new world, but temporarily shut me out. And college! Oh my….but just know again, that your son’s transition and even yours in this first stage of letting go will give birth to wonderful new experiences for your mother-son team as you relate adult to adult, but ALWAYS HEART TO HEART. Praying for you in this metamorphosis, too!
        Love
        Lynn

        • says

          Thank you, Lynn. You are always so thoughtful. This will be one of those transitions to live into too! I don’t think I’ll know how I’m doing until I know how he’s doing :). I so appreciate your prayers.

    • says

      David, I’m so grateful that God brought us together through the High Calling. And I am so glad that we don’t have to say goodbye for real–that social media allows us to stay in touch and remain abreast of all the good stuff of life. What a blessing your friendship has been. Hugs to you. See you in cyberspace 🙂

  7. says

    It was at your invitation that I was honored to become one of the contributing photographers to THC. At first I thought there must be some mistake but you invited me a second time. What a privilege it has been to be a small part of this. The people I have come to know have been a true blessing in my limited world. Thank you for your kindness.

    • says

      You are so humble, Susan. Your photos are works of art. I’m so pleased to have been the one to offer the invitation, but honestly? I’m sure someone else would have done the same if I hadn’t! Your work is far too beautiful to go unnoticed. And we at The High Calling have been blessed by it. So. Much.

  8. says

    This here is truth > “For to sorrow over a goodbye means that there was something of immense value that one is being parted from.” May we always cherish & hold onto the immense value & let go of the pain of the goodbye. Not easy but at least in that way, there is redemption from the loss. Blessings!

    • says

      Thank you for that blessing, Joanne. Not easy, no, but I am trying to see the bigger picture, trust in God’s plans. So grateful for your presence here–today and always.

  9. says

    The old Quakers spoke of recognizing the time to “lay a ministry down.” May God comfort you in your current season of losses and lead you fill your arms with another ministry opportunity (if it is His will).

  10. says

    Dear Sweet Laura,
    I have met you and so many wonderful people through The High Calling. It was because of their co-sponsorship in a Blogging Workship with Dan King and Paul Steinbrueck from Our Church that I began blogging in 2010. I always looked forward to linking up with your blog and hearing your encouraging comments on what I had written. It was because of people like you and Ann Kroeker, Claire Burge, and others that I was spurred on to continue writing.
    The endi of The High Calling and your ministry there brings about a time of grieving and change. I can only imagine the depth of pain that separation causes. And to have your son go off to college doubles that pain. Yet, in the midst of this, you have found hope and comfort in these written words and in the beauty of God’s butterflies. What a treasure it is to have been such an integral part of something that you can feel that pain. The words you have quoted, “For to sorrow over a goodbye means that there was something of immense value that one is being parted from,” is a grace, blessing, and trial all at the same time.
    I will keep you in prayer during this time and think of you often.
    With precious memories, Janis

  11. says

    Sweet Laura. Change in life is hard, the butterfly knows that better than anyone. That’s why I love them so. They remind me that change is necessary, and can even be beautiful. Blessings on your week, my friend.

  12. says

    Laura,
    I love butterflies – I guess because they start so low and become so beautiful. And I feel their freedom as they flit from flower to flower. I feel sorrow for you as you work your way through the changes. Letting go is hard – but a good test of trusting in God for what comes next. It’s been years since my last little one flew from the nest. Now I have 7 new little ones hugging me. It reminds me of the Lion King and circle of life. May you rejoice in the newness that is coming – what has God in store for you? I can’t wait to see that.
    Blessings
    Janis

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