Chaplain Nick wrote this reflection for a recent Butterfly Service, where hundreds of butterflies were released in honor of loved ones who had passed. The service brought staff, residents, volunteers and families together to remember, laugh, celebrate and honor the lives of those closest to them.
As a father of three rather young ladies, I’m often/especially reminded of the grace and peace and symbolic depth of butterflies. I think they can entice or coax a natural curiosity from us as people especially when they catch our attention. In the Christian tradition, butterflies are often a symbol or sign of resurrection and rebirth.
I remember being taught about caterpillars and butterflies as an elementary student and being taught about their metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is the process of the caterpillar building the cocoon and being changed into a butterfly. Metamorphosis is really a fancy greek word for change or transform. I think in many ways when we experience a loss in our lives, we undergo a metamorphosis. When we experience a loss or a death in our life, we can’t help but be changed or transformed by it. But I am encouraged with the knowledge that we have a God of goodness. I am encouraged that a God who is able to assist a caterpillar change into a beautiful butterfly, might be able to do something similar in our lives.
So as we release the butterflies here in a few moments, I understand that they represent us releasing our loved ones into God’s care and compassion. But at the same time, I think we too are in the process of becoming butterflies, in the process of being changed and transformed by our experiences, being transformed and renewed by a loving and gracious God, so maybe in a few minutes when we release the butterflies, we’ll also be releasing a part of ourselves as well, the part or parts that hinder or block us from receiving God’s goodness and grace and life and love, God’s resurrection, in the right here and right now, and in the future going forward.