Butterflies and Bones

Saw this on a walk up the mountain at Crossroads Campground in Virginia.

On a walk up a mountain road today, I stopped near a bench to take in the rumbling river. Lingering for a moment, I tried to soak it all in. On my left, my eye caught subtle movement, and I to my delight, I saw butterflies.

A group of six or seven stunningly beautiful butterflies were gathered, wings slowly flapping, resting. I wondered if I had somehow stumbled in to a butterfly sanctuary of sorts. As I leaned in to take a picture, I realized what they were resting on: a carcass. Perhaps a large bird, or some other mid-sized animal…I’m not sure. But definitely, definitely a carcass. Instinctively, I pulled back. This image stretched me. I didn’t expect to see the butterflies resting on bones.

And then I thought – isn’t that just like God, to layer beauty atop brokenness? To place butterflies in all their glorious array in the midst of bones? To put exquisite life in the midst of unmistakable death? And then, to allow it to linger there?

I have no idea why these butterflies were drawn to the carcass. (I’m sure there is a scientific reason, but please don’t tell me.) I just want to linger in the tension of butterflies and bones, and to remember that God does this kind of work all around us. I want to soak in the fact that yesterday’s death often sits so close to today’s life. I want to reflect on how God has created a world that can handle both life and death, side-by-side.

I want to revel in the ways Life swallows death and…yes…today, even rests atop it.

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