A fritillary landed on my car today while I was driving to school—That’s a type of butterfly, if you haven’t been watching my nature photos—and I was forced to slow down.
No, seriously, he landed on the window and clung on so hard it looked like the wind would rip his wings off.
So I went 15 instead of the 25 I could have been doing.
I was already on campus grounds. It’s not like I went slow on the interstate.
I would have gotten a picture, but he took off as soon as I pulled into a parking place.
Maybe he wanted to get from the stoplight to the parking lot four hundred yards away.
Why is this worth mentioning? Perhaps for the oddity of the moment.
The imposition of it.
The wonder of something so tiny intruding on my existence, as if with the odd expectation that I wouldn’t just squash it for getting in my way.
When did I become such a softy?
And why do I still hate spiders? I don’t hesitate to squash them.
Unless they’re outside.
The room is totally off limits, though.
There’s a war in my head, a battle over my heart, a whisper pushing that killing is fun, that crushing things is a happy event.
It’s always been there, for as long as I’ve been listening,
and I don’t believe it anymore.
At least, not like I did.
I could say that killing is not fun, but that would sound trite. Didactic.
It would also be untrue.
Of course killing is fun, if I think like a child and revel in my power and ignore the dignity of creation and other creatures and my own responsibilities as someone made in the image of God.
Fun is such a small thing, after all, and very subjective.
I have killed and found it fun.
More recently, I have killed and found it sobering.
Sobering, as the blood ran out of a chicken after I passed a knife across its throat,
or worse, a goose,
and the simple creature struggled in my hand as its red life ran out,
fighting the metal cone that pinned its wings and suspended it upside down,
until all strength was gone and the last twitches faded,
and it was dead.
and a moment of profound thanksgiving,
to know that I would be eating at the expense of something else’s life.
Of course I still ate the chicken. And the goose. I’m not talking about a pantheistic spiritual experience in which I embraced the oneness of all things and renounced placing myself above any other form of life.
It’s a bird. I am a man.
God made me to rule, and part of that includes the fact that I get to eat the chicken.
But I don’t get to disrespect it.
And I forget that far too often, about everything around me.
Until a butterfly imposes, and reminds me of whose image I am made in, and the grace that I am called to show because of that.
The grace that is mine, because God died as a sacrifice to feed me, like a lowly chicken.
And a cause for celebration around the table with friends and family, because a home-raised chicken is a glorious feast.
Why would God do that? Why would Jesus, King of all creation, become a man, a thing of flesh, and die as a sacrifice to feed our hungry souls?
It’s far more than the grace showed to an imposing butterfly.
More like a cockroach getting caught in my kitchen and begging me not to squash it, but instead feed it and make it a child.
I’m pretty sure I’m not going to reach a point where that doesn’t provoke an instant kill response from me.
Although a talking cockroach would probably give me pause.
Still, I might reply, “Since you can talk, I will advise you to run away now, before I burn you with fire.”
I feel like a cockroach in God’s kitchen, continuously expecting a boot on my head.
The radio is talking to me with well timed songs, telling me I’m not a cockroach anymore, but an adopted child with all the privileges of God’s only-begotten Son.
The privileges of an only-begotten Son who came down and died like a lowly chicken so He could be a feast for many.
Oh well. I’ll take it. All of it. Even the imposing butterflies.
But not the cockroaches.
Or the spiders.
I have limits.