Butterflies in October

Yellow and orange pieces of felt littered my kitchen counter. A black outline, symmetrically decorated with pops of bright, cheery colors, began to take shape as I measured and glued. Sewing, cutting, glueing–three of my very least favorite things to do, but it’s October and I’m a mom. Sitting in your kitchen on a Sunday afternoon stressing over a costume for your 2 year old is part of the job.

He could have chosen a fireman or a construction builder; a train conductor, Batman, or a football player. Something boyish and fun or exciting and fast. What little boy doesn’t dream of driving a big, noisy machine or saving the day with a stick and a cape? But true to his character, my little sweetheart jumped up and down and cheerfully declared, “My be a butterfly, mama!”

After a few attempts to coerce him into a more gender-appropriate get-up, I finally gave up and decided that I’d have to make him a costume. And as I pondered a design, I began to doubt. A butterfly is not the most manly thing in the world.

A butterfly is a creature of gentleness and joy, fluttering about in the sun, stopping at each flower to take in its goodness. As a young caterpillar, it will grow and morph into a new form, ready for flight and exploration. Aside from camouflage, the butterfly has no real way to protect itself. No biting weapon or deadly sting. It seems simply at peace with everything around it.

No, the butterfly is not a manly choice. But for Asher strength and beauty, fun and function, rest and activity–there is no difference in his mind. Life is only full of all good things, including the happy little butterflies that filled his backyard this summer.

But adults are quick to pick up the armor. We grab the sword, protect ourselves or our clan. For us it’s important to look tough, think fast, be witty, aluring, and sharp. We know our odds of survival are better with a weapon in our back pocket. And so we may enjoy the occasional butterfly, but given a choice, we wouldn’t select it as our identity. Wouldn’t want to disguise ourselves as a creature so innocent and helpless.

My son has chosen what I could not, and has left me ashamed and exposed in the process. In the face of power or strength or flashy, applaudable options, somehow he has chosen the divine. A creature with a nature that transcends our human reality, aligning itself with life and blessing rather than rebellion and corruption that marks our condition.

Watching this little boy is such a fascinating lesson to me. He is the eternal optimist; the chronically happy child. Each day I am in awe of how perfect his name fits him, meaning “happy, fortunate, blessed,” and amazed that of all the colors his favorite is, of course, yellow. Asher seems to embrace joy and peace more than any other person I know. It should come as no surprise to me that he would asked me to help him to embody one of the most positive, mild, and beautiful things on God’s good earth. He seeks to be the very thing that he already is, fluttering into our lives and floating on streams of sunshine.

And so I glue the felt and sew the straps and fashion antenna out of pipe cleaners. I praise my little one for seeking first the Kingdom, for seeing God’s handiwork where I could not. And as he flutters about in his homemade wings, I pray over the little heart that asked for them. May he always find shelter in the wings of his Creator and always know the happiness that comes from dwelling in peace in the garden of delight.

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