The poor butterfly could no longer take flight, but lay helpless at the base of a tree. Most people ignored it--many unaware of it's very presence. Too busy was the crowd to even take notice of the flightless creature. A few did try to help--lifting it up and placing it on a low branch so it would not be trampled. But every time, the butterfly fell back to the ground--a breeze knocking it from its safe place.
Hope, in the form of a 6-year-old girl, found the butterfly. She could not let it be and refused to leave it there for fear someone would step on it. To everyone it was obvious the butterfly was dying. It wouldn’t be long. The little girl didn’t care. She cupped her hands together and cradled the fragile butterfly all the way home.
In a little red basket, lined with a red dishtowel, the little girl placed the butterfly. The butterfly barely moved--only a flicker from a wing here and there indicated any life at all. From the garden she gathered the tops of small flowers--red mums, pink daisies, and a few yellow dandelions from the yard. Following the pattern of holes in the red basket, she adorned the basket with a fragrance of color.
“What do butterflies eat?” She would ask. With no true answer, she placed a few leaves and several blades of grass next to the resting butterfly. She tried to feed it water by carefully balancing a droplet on her fingertip.
It wasn’t long before there was no glimmer of movement--the butterfly had slipped peacefully away.
The little girl accepted this. Tenderly, she carried the basket to the backyard garden and proceeded to find a place to bury it. She dug the hole, laid the lifeless butterfly inside, and then gently covered it up. On top of the tiny mound she placed the flower buds, and then dusted her hands off on her pants. Her job was done.
As I watched my daughter care for one of God’s tiny creations, I admired her tender heart and her capacity for compassion. I am sure there never has been, nor will there probably ever be, a butterfly ushered from this life and into the next laying on a cotton blanket, surrounded by a rainbow of flowers.