Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chapter 7 - The Butterflies

Christian’s Sunday school class had brought some handmade butterflies fashioned of colored paper and wooden clothes pins, to help brighten his room during one of his stays in the hospital. The first one, I think. I used them to explain what death was like.
“Your body is like a cocoon. But some day, you will be free like the butterfly. Free of the body you suffer in,” was what I promised him.
We met another couple who had lost two children and was visiting another of their children, hospitalized on the fifth floor, also. They talked to Gary and me on the eve of Christian’s death. It was their experience that somehow, someday, God would give us a sign of some kind, perhaps through an especially natural way. Maybe a bird’s song, or the way the wind blows. We would know that Christian was alright and not lost to us forever. I believed it was possible.
In the four months we had been given to say goodbye to our cherished son, God’s Grace was always with us. Christian’s funeral was packed with adults and children alike. We sang his songs with nearly the same joy as he had. Tears mixed with happiness for one another for having known that little angel while he was here among us in this world. When the last word was said, the last flower laid down, the last condolence given, sorrow set in.

Gary, the kids, and I, got into the car and headed for home - that country place of serenity. But our hearts were hardly serene. We knew we would never see that place the same way again, not without Christian there. His birthday gifts and toys would never be touched by their owner again. Gary parked the car at the end of the long driveway that separated the meadow from the house set back in the woods. We hadn’t been home in weeks. He went ahead of me to check on things in the house. Do we still have our utilities? Where are the chickens?
As I looked from outside the car at what all must be unloaded, a big, brown, very plain butterfly seemed to deliberately float towards me and rested on my bosom. I was extremely elated to have the very hand of God touch me in this way.
“Gary! Look at this!” I shouted, pointing to that magnificent butterfly. It was slowly, calmly, flapping its wings. “Yeah, but look out there!” Gary said, pointing to the meadow. There in the bright sunshine, one year after the heavens first opened up, was even more of God’s Grace. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny yellow butterflies were literally carpeting the meadow! It seemed that Christian, or his essence, was moving everywhere - all at once. I thanked God for loving us this way. I saw God meeting us at the height of our despair and give us hope. There was no place I would rather have been than that God-appointed solace from the world and pain. He caused me to bust out laughing on that totally mournful day.
Since then, I have comforted the impoverished, hungry, homeless, grieving, and even the spiritually dead, with Christian’s words. It doesn’t take a very holy person to do God’s work at all, just a very humbled soul. We can all learn from Christian that we can face the ominous and even death, with the faith of a four year old.

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