"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." - 2 Corinthians 3:17
When my spouse was a kindergarten teacher I was tasked with the annual search for monarch caterpillars for her classroom. These I brought home with the requisite milkweed, also known as "caterpillar food." Both insect and flora were placed in a glass gallon jug with holes punched in he lid. Then we waited and watched for the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
A few years ago I repeated this process at my local church. Having found all the necessary ingredients, I placed the gallon jug near the pulpit . I waited again.
And then it happened.
When I arrived at the church one early Sunday morning there was a perfect monarch butterfly hanging tenderly from a branch of milkweed. Of course, I was preparing to use this event for our children’s time.
But instead, I got a little crazy and threw caution to the wind. I invited the entire congregation out into the church courtyard on a clear and crisp September morning to release our new found insect friend. Everyone joined me. I remember thinking, "I hope this works.
I reached into the jar, taking out the bit of milkweed along with the butterfly. After a few moments, the butterfly took to the air and flew gracefully over the church roof. People were clapping, whooping and crying. Entire volumes of Hallmark cards could be written about this moment. Everyone experienced a flying-free vibe.
Just in case this sounds really cheesy . . . so what? Sometimes God gives us Hallmark moments to remind us that grace abounds and new life is real. After the butterfly went on, we all went back into the sanctuary and sang "In the Bulb There is a Flower." People wept, smiled and hugged each other while singing this beautiful hymn.
We felt free, too. Cheesy . . . or grace? It is, as they say, "all good."
Surprising God, thank you that in little things we can feel big things. Thank you that with your grace, we, along with butterflies, can fly free. Amen.
Daniel B. Randall is the Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC in Bristol, Rhode Island, founder of America's oldest Fourth of July celebration.