By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published May 19, 2017
So many wondrous things happen secretly and silently, especially as the world moves from the gray palette of winter to the fancy hues of spring.
Grass blades reappear, flowers reveal their colorful faces—and one day, almost like magic, butterflies appear.
For me spring is the season of hope, and butterflies emerging from cocoons remind me that with God all things truly are possible.
What if butterflies didn’t exist—and a writer conjured up such a creature for a science fiction tale?
I can imagine critics saying, “Come on, now! No one would believe a caterpillar could turn into something that beautiful!”
But God, the author of the Book of Life, put that character into the plot—and sometimes we forget how astonishing this emblem of rebirth is.
Butterflies show us that resurrection, healing—and hope—are possible, even in the darkest times.
Anyone who has suffered heartache or disappointment can attest that healing happens quietly—and in God’s time.
We can’t speed up the emergence of a butterfly from its cocoon, nor can we rush the mending of shattered hearts.
One person who has helped me considerably on my own journey of healing is Jennifer Hubbard, who writes occasional meditations for “The Magnificat.”
This Catholic mother’s world fell apart five years ago, when one of her two children—Catherine Violet, 6—was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
At first, Hubbard went through extreme anguish and anger, but she never gave up on God. Her faith has sustained her and helped her heal—and she said in an interview that she’s never felt closer to God.
As she put it, this unspeakable loss brought her to complete honesty with God. She was able to express her rage against him for allowing such a tragedy to unfold—and only then did healing begin.
“I believe that when you are at your weakest, and there is nothing left that you can possibly do, that is when you find God—the real God.”
She and her husband have managed to bring light out of the terrible darkness of their loss.
They built the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown, Connecticut, in memory of their daughter, who had a great love for animals.
Butterflies had a special place in Catherine’s heart, since they would land on her hand—and she’d whisper to them before they flew away.
“Tell your friends I am kind,” she said—hoping that if word got out, more butterflies would show up.
“Building a sanctuary is one of these things that I believe God has truly placed in front of me,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard discovered God’s calling by actively surrendering whatever was holding her back “from seeing (His) purpose.”
At the 34-acre animal sanctuary, there’s a yearly butterfly party with fun activities for children, plus a crew of animals wandering around, including some awaiting adoption.
Special gardens provide protection for endangered species of butterflies.
Instead of running from her grief, this courageous woman transformed anguish into hope—and became an emblem of resurrection in ordinary life.
She emphasizes that the most important thing we do every day is prayer. As she put it, “Prayer and hope go hand in hand.”
Her lesson for us is not to give up, no matter how dark things may seem. Pray even when you think you’re talking to yourself.
Go to Mass even when you leave feeling as broken-hearted as when you walked in. Remain faithful to God, and trust in his timing.
Keep your eye on the butterfly, a symbol of rebirth and hope. And seek God’s special plan for your life in quiet times of prayer because as Mother Teresa said, “In the silence of the heart, God speaks.”
Artwork (“Twitch Upon the Thread,” oil on canvas) by Jef Murray. Lorraine Murray’s email address is email@example.com.