Monarch Butterflies

Last December I was invited to serve for a week as the UCC Chaplain in residence at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. The ten-week summer institute is a 150-year old celebration of the arts, music, education and religion, and I was there the first week in July. It was a great experience, and I thank Eldonna for making it possible for me to attend. Every day there were at least a couple of "aha" moments.
 
One morning at worship, the invited preacher for the week, J. Peter Holmes from Toronto, told a story about Monarch Butterflies.
 
He was visiting the home of a friend on the North Shore of Lake Ontario and noticed two brown trees that he thought must be dead or dying. But his kids saw something different. Rather than being dead or dying, the trees were covered with thousands of Monarch butterflies getting ready for their migration from Canada to Mexico.
Peter was amazed by the uncountable number of butterflies, but also amazed at where they were. His friend's house was at the widest spot on Lake Ontario. It was more than 50 miles to the American side. Peter asked his friend why the butterflies didn't cross at the Niagara River, which was less than a mile wide. His friend said they were waiting for the wind to blow them across the lake.
 
On the far north shore of Lake Ontario the prevailing winds would blow them across more than 50 miles of open water. The wind was more important than the seemingly impossible problem of distance. In an anthropomorphic way, the butterflies had absolute faith in the wind.
They were waiting for the wind to blow them across the lake.
 
When I heard that story it reminded me of the wind of Pentecost. When we are faced with what seem to be obviously impossible problems-like the death of a loved one or vast systematic injustice, or war that produces an endless stream of refuges-, when we have done all we can do, when we have prayed all we can pray, when all seems hopeless, there is still hope in the wind of Pentecost.
 
I look forward to sharing more of my Chautauqua experiences in worship on Sunday.
~ Jerry Hancock
 

Posted on July 18, 2017 at 10:52 am in Featured Content.

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