Creation of the Butterflies

When the Great Spirit watched his creation, he became sad at the thought that someday all the children would grow old and die. He knew they would be like the flowers of the field and would bloom for only a while before losing their beauty and wilting. Still, it was autumn, and all the colors of the trees and the fields gave the Great Spirit an idea.

“I will create something beautiful for the children,” he said.

And so the Great Spirit gathered the colors together. He took gold from the sunlight, blue from the sky, white from the cornmeal, gray from the shadows of the running children, green from the leaves of summer, yellow from the leaves of autumn, black from a girl's long hair, and red, purple, and orange he found in the petals of the flowers in the field. The Great Spirit mixed these together in his bag, along with a few songs that he had gleaned from the birds.

The Great Spirit then walked to a meadow, placed his bag on the ground and said, “Come, children. Come and open the bag. I have a present for you.”

The children ran to the bag, opened it, and thousands of bright, beautiful butterflies fluttered into the sky. The children were so happy, seeing such beauty. Suddenly the butterflies began to sing, and the children sang with them. All the songs of laughter filled the air and the world was a happy place.

Just then a songbird flew by and lighted on the Great Spirit's shoulder. The bird whispered in the Great Spirit's ear: “It isn't right that you have taken our songs and given them to these new creatures. After all, they are lovelier than we are. Isn't it only right that the songs belong to us?”

The Great Spirit thought about this and then agreed with the songbird. “It is only right that the songs belong to you,” he said.

And so the Great Spirit took the songs back and gave them to the birds. That is why they sing. But of the butterflies the Great Spirit said, “Look at these. For they are beautiful just as they are.”

This version of this beautiful Native American story was found in Todd Outcalt's wonderful collection of parables: “Candles In The Dark.” I couldn't possibly improve on his prose, so I kept his wording of the story. God in His wisdom has given us all unique gifts. Beauty for the butterflies and songs for the birds. We are created to bring joy to one another and to bring praise to our creator. There may be times when we are jealous of another person's gifts. We do well to remember that our creator has given us our gifts for a purpose and that we are, in the words of the Psalmist, “fearfully and wonderfully made!”

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…



Two Wolves

The Cherokee tell of a young boy who is brought before the council of elders for his aggressive behavior. One of the wisest of the elders takes the boy aside and shares with him this bit of wisdom:

“I am not surprised that you are so aggressive. You see, each of us has, in his own soul, two wolves. One of these wolves is good, the other evil. They are both of equal strength and are locked in a violent battle to the death!”

The young boy thinks about this for a second then asks, “If this is true, and both wolves are of equal strength, which one wins?”

The old man smiles, puts his arm around the boy, and tells him, “The wolf that wins is the wolf you feed!”

All of us face choices every day. This parable reminds us that the choices we make form the person we will become. As persons of faith, we are called to feed our best impulses and starve our worst. In the 7th chapter of Romans, Paul laments his own lack of self control: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Paul is acutely aware of his warring impulses but also teaches that through Christ we can be victorious over our sin natures. To choose the good over the bad takes tremendous discipline. Discipline, though, is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…