The Mystery of this One Butterfly
One day last week in the late afternoon, October 19, to be exact, a monarch butterfly fluttered into the backyard to pay a visit to a giant lantana. I edged up on it trying to get a photograph, but he was a little too wary of me, so I had to back off. It was the only monarch I’d seen this year. As I studied his movements, it occurred to me that it was about this time last year when I saw a monarch. I scrolled through my pictures and found where I’d captured a shot—on the exact day, October 19.
Could it be the same butterfly?
No, it couldn’t.
There have been four generations of butterflies between the one I saw last year and the one this year. They only live about six weeks.
I looked back further in my phone and also found a photo of one on October 14 in 2018.
The last generation of monarchs in the year lives longer and do not reach maturity until the next spring. That generation makes a 2000-mile migration from here to Mexico weighing less than a gram. Sometimes, they will take up residence in the exact same tree every year. No one knows how or why because none of the butterflies have ever been there before.
The butterflies I see are likely migrating from points north. Maybe it’s the earth’s gravitational pull, the huge lantanas and butterfly bushes in my yard, or a factor we don’t even know about, but one butterfly shows up here the exact same week every year.
Seeing a monarch is a very special thing to me and a privilege I do not take lightly. Their populations have diminished more than eighty percent since the 1990’s due in large part to the spraying of herbicides. We don’t use herbicides in our yard, and we will never win a yard of the month award because of it, but we are rewarded in other ways like the opportunity to be visited by this rare butterfly.
The mystery of the one butterfly that shows up every year in my yard could remain unsolved. But this yearly visitation is highly valued reminding me of the greatness of God and His loving care. God knows I love these creatures and somehow, I happen to be in the right place at the right time to see them and pray for their survival when they make their calls.
It brings home what Jesus said about the sparrows, “Not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29). He’s not talking about a million sparrows or a hundred sparrows but one sparrow. One solitary, run of the mill, sparrow. That brings me great comfort when my internal worry machine starts cranking about seemingly irresolvable problems, especially these days with world events being what they are. I see the one butterfly and I’m reminded of a God so great he can guide them back again and again to a place where they have never been to bring amazement and wonder.
So, take comfort from my one butterfly and through him, let God bring you encouragement, too, in whatever difficulty you may find yourself. God cares about the tiniest things—even those that weigh less than a gram. Nothing and no one escapes his tender care.
If you are in the area, I'm having a book signing for In Search of the Painted Bunting on November 2 from 6-8 hosted by Mackay Dental Consultants. I'll have giveaways, too. Hope to see you there. Blessings.