Rounding the last corner of our destination, our two boys started cheering as my parent's home in Nipomo, CA came into view.The four-hour drive from Southern California is only pleasant once we start driving through Ventura beach, where the view of the ocean calms the soul. Now unpacked and enjoying each other's company, we started to discuss our vacation plans. Grandpa Bud cheerfully announced, "We simply must go visit the Monarch Butterfly Preserve!" My stepdad, Bud, always had fun outings to suggest from the Preserve to the famous San Dunes. Oh how our boys loved visiting Grandpa Bud and Grandma Helen!
With the breakfast dishes now in the dishwasher, we were gathering sweaters and putting on shoes. Our younger son, Sean, wanted to wear his brand-new cowboy boots. Once slipped on he proudly clopped outside, making as much noise as his little feet could make. We loaded into the van and zoomed off to our destination just minutes away. I was so excited to share this adventure of nature. I've always loved butterflies. But I really love the spiritual symbolism of transformation. I was hoping to make today a teachable moment for the boys.
Spying out the car window, Sean gleefully announced, "We're here! Let's go!" Once inside the Preserve, the first thing I noticed was the sound of silence. I felt like we were in church. There was a feeling of reverence and awe in this outdoor sanctuary. Everywhere you turned, thousands of butterflies were hanging on leaves of the Eucalyptus trees. It was an amazing sight!
My mom offered to watch the boys for a few minutes so Russ and I could enjoy a moment of peace. I was gazing at some Monarchs, lost in fascination of their beauty and delicacy. Suddenly I heard a group of people gasp, "Oh no!" I immediately felt a sickening heaviness, a reaction from having experienced many times when Sean acted out impulsively. I spun around to see a group of people gathered in a tight circle. As I walked closer I heard someone exclaim, "I can't believe he did that!" Now I was certain it was Sean. Suddenly my mom and Sean emerged from the circle of onlookers. She explained how they were all gazing at a Monarch that had landed on the cement. Everyone was gathered around it to enjoy nature's show. Sean had suddenly popped out of the crowd and ferociously smashed the butterfly with his efficient cowboy boots! That's when the people collectively gasped in horror! After the negative comments, my mom defended Sean by saying, "This is what we teach our kids: to smash a bug with their foot! In his little mind, that's all he was doing!" That's when she and Sean scurried out of the circle of judgment.
My first reaction was to say, "Let's get out of here!" But on reviewing what my mom had told the crowd, I realized this was a teachable moment on forgiveness. I bent down and hugged Sean and kissed his soft little cheek reassuring him of my love. I explained some boundaries so that we wouldn't repeat that lesson again. I swallowed my pride, stood up, nodded to the circle of people still standing in disbelief, and we walked on to continue enjoying God's beautiful creation of the Monarch butterfly.
If I couldn't recall my memories of being a hairy caterpillar limited to crawling on the ground, how could I explain my butterfly beauty, transformed by God's deep love? I thanked the Lord for the good reminder. I was able to offer a teachable moment by remaining calm during this disruption and offering love and forgiveness. I was rewarded with the benefits of deep delight!