One evening last week, before a sweltering heat wave arrived, I parked on the back deck to read. The sun had dropped behind the old oak tree to the west. Shadows danced and flickered on leaf, grass and flower; a few birds added soft background chatter.
All of a sudden I had company. A butterfly joined me, landing gracefully on my knee. I don’t remember ever being visited up-close-and-personal by a butterfly. I studied him in wonder.
Orange stripes and white splotches stood out against black and chocolate-brown wings. Along the feathery perimeter, white scallops created a fluted edge.
But what astounded me most were his antennae. Tiny black and white stripes encircled each one. And the tips appeared dipped in fluorescent yellow paint.
I didn’t dare move, anxious to prolong the magical moment as long as possible, to enjoy his presence and inspect him further.
His markings were remarkably symmetrical, and I wondered if, while in the cocoon, butterfly wings grow folded in such a way to produce the effect—much like folded-paper ink blots. (I did check online, but found no answer to this specific question. Do you happen to know?)
I even studied the vein lines—dozens and dozens of them—some large and pronounced, others barely visible. They, too, appeared symmetrical.
For the duration of his visit, the butterfly remained quite still. I found myself stilled, too, enveloped in a sweet interlude of peace.
Twice my new friend winked his wings at me. “Good evening,” I imagined him saying. “Isn’t our Creator God amazing? ‘In wisdom he made us all. We are both marvelously made!’”*
Oh, yes. This butterfly was marvelously made alright. Stunning, actually. And I felt the beauty of the Lord upon me (Psalm 90:17)—his favor and splendor–as one of his loveliest, most graceful creatures honored me with his presence.
I was also reminded:
- A butterfly visitation is a God-visitation, as his eternal power and divine nature are magnificently displayed (Romans 1:20).
- God is a Master Artist. How awe-inspiring to discover such minute details as tiny, even stripes on an insect’s antennae.
- Just as I delighted in the butterfly’s presence, God offers supreme delight to those who bask in his presence (Psalm 16:11).
- God’s presence also offers calm and peace, not only for a moment but forever (Isaiah 26:3).
- God’s blessings sometimes come in surprising, unexpected ways. He even provides unnecessary blessings—like butterfly landings–just because he loves us.
All too soon my delicate visitor departed. But the delight lingers, because a God-visitation is not quickly forgotten.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
Later, on the internet I found this picture, a member of the same family as my winged friend. His kind are known as Red Admirals. Can you see those tiny stripes?
What experience in nature lingers in your mind as a God-visitation? Tell us about it in the comment section below!
*Psalm 104:24b; 139:14