It was just after 2:00 pm, which meant that the interior of my car was more like the surface of the sun as I sat in traffic, waiting for one of Shelby’s many stoplights to deign to let me pass. But this particular stoplight seemingly had a grudge against me today. Literal minutes were ticking by, it was hot as all get out, and I had somewhere to be. The discontented stream of grumbling in my head was quickly building to a fever pitch.
And then, I saw it: a butterfly, its wings patterned in brilliant blue and silky black, flitting among the cars gathered at the stoplight. It hovered and darted among hoods and roofs shimmering like metal carapaces, flying as if it were searching for something to light on. After a few more seconds, it came closer, and finally lit on my windshield, right in my line of sight.
I expected it to take off again right away, but instead, it was almost preternaturally still, except for its little antennae waving about as if trying to get my attention. How delicate its wings were, fragile and almost translucent…I studied it for a moment or two more, wondering how it was staying so still, and why.
The light up ahead finally turned green at last, but it seemed the butterfly knew to lift off the windshield even before I lifted my foot from the brake; I watched it hover just above the glass, as if it was trying to keep my attention. All too soon, though, I had to advance forward, leaving the butterfly behind, hopefully avoiding the tide of traffic behind me.
Driving on through the intersection, blessedly moving at last, I wasn’t quite so grumbly anymore. The butterfly’s moments of stillness, as it balanced daintily on the windshield, had reminded me that sometimes it was okay to be still, when moving too fast could endanger you. Maybe I didn’t need to worry about rushing ahead to make up time; maybe I would be better off not to drive as if the gas pedal were an enemy to stomp into the ground.
Now, I know that butterflies in the late spring are not uncommon, certainly, but allowing myself to be still a moment and ponder such a tiny, delicate creature was uncommon for me. I’m not known for being still, or quiet, or content…and yet, in those very few moments, I was perfectly content being all of those things, merely looking at a butterfly. How much calmer would I be, if I allowed myself more of those moments? …Come to think of it, how much calmer would we all be?
I like to think that sometimes God uses the littlest of creatures to remind us of huge essential truths, like the importance of just being still. What do you think?