I must confess found myself wanting to kill butterflies yesterday.
Ever since I was little, I have liked most sorts of bugs. I loved butterflies and moths. I wanted a pet praying mantis to keep on a string and catch pesky flies and misquotes. I was the advocate for fly spiders, those black, fuzzy, stocky-legged, hopping arachnids, and when their indoor lives were threatened I usually managed to remove them to the safety of outside using a cup and sheet of paper. I'm not fond of all bugs, but the only ones which consistently give me shivers and call out no amount of sympathy are cockroaches.
Butterflies? Why would I want to kill such harmless pretty things?
Let me explain. If you came to visit, I could show you the scenes of carnage wreaked by those "harmless" flying worms. These horrible scenes are found mostly on our little red cabbage plants. I pulled the worms off in disgust the first time I thought to look. Holes don't appear by themselves.
But let me tell you how those holes get there, may I?
First, it starts with an egg, generally hidden on the underside of the doomed leaf.
See those specks? The eggs are the size of a comma or smaller. Usually there are more than one. After a while (I'm guessing a day or two), out comes a tinsy weensy worm, barely bigger than the egg, threadlike and "cute".
The first act of said "cute" worm is to devour its surrounding and grow rapidly.
Now, I've begun waging a battle. Every few days I try to inspect each vulnerable leaf and carefully clear it of those tiny white specks, before they become large green monsters-er, worms. Our newer cabbages, thus far, are relatively hole-free. But every time I step outside, there are the butterflies, fluttering about like white petals, flitting from flower to flower... and hanging around the cabbages. I begin to make some connections.
I like cabbage. I want my family to be able to eat bountifully from our garden. Worms will eat it first if given the chance. Butterflies make worms, and more worms make more butterflies to make more worms. I might be bigger, but there are more of them. Who will win?
So, yesterday I gave our cat Bella permission to munch on any butterfly she might catch. And I wondered how hard it would really be to begin squishing them all myself.
Thus goes the spine-tingling backyard drama. But would you believe there is a spiritual application as well?
Here it is. Butterflies are like sins which appear harmless, fun, and pretty. But they have dire consequences in our lives. We must be constantly on guard, and we must have help!
Are we the gardener or the cabbages? Well, we are called to put away sin and things that entangle us, to resist the devil, to wield the Sword of the Spirit. In those ways we are like the gardener, and must be diligent and wise. The realization that butterflies were gorging themselves on our cabbage was the final thing that clicked. In a similar way, the best call to action against sin is the realization of what is at stake, of loving the good that is being lost.
But even with our best efforts, we cannot defeat sin alone. In that case, we are as helpless as the cabbages. Praise be to God, the Master Gardener, for saving us from the worms!