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…

 

 

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A Miraculous Man

A famous Sufi sage was approached by one of his disciples who told him, “I know a man who is so miraculous he can walk on water!”

“Big deal,” the sage replied with a yawn, “frogs and mosquitoes walk on water all the time.”

The disciple, eager to impress his sage, said, “I have also met a miraculous man who can fly!”

“So what?” said the sage, “do not birds and butterflies fly regularly and with ease?”

The student, sure he was on his way to impressing the sage, replied, “I have also heard of a man so miraculous he can disappear in one town and reappear, moments later, in another.”

“Yes,” replied the sage, “but so can Satan. All the powers you've mentioned are useless. A truly miraculous man is one who loves his fellow human beings while remembering God in all things.”

As disciples we are called to love God and love others. This is much easier said than done. In fact, many times it seems impossible. The sage was right. To manage this is the truest miracle. The apostle Paul felt that without the miracle of loving God and others, all other miracles were useless. That's why he told the church in Corinth, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

 

The Ant and the Dove

One day the ant was thirsty and travelled to a nearby stream to drink some water. The current of the stream was so strong that it pulled him in and soon he had been whisked along toward certain peril. Several yards ahead, on a branch, overlooking the stream, sat the dove. Noticing the distressed ant coming his way, the dove kindly dropped a leaf. So well timed was the leaf that the ant was able to climb on it and ride to safety. Some minutes later, a hunter was silently creeping up on the dove from some distance away. The ant saw the hunter with his bow drawn to strike the bird that had just rescued him and he bit the hunter on his toe so hard that he let out a yelp. The startled bird then took wing.

How we care for the least among us is a central concern for Christians. This parable, pulled from Aesop’s fables is a reminder that it is always good to help those that you might think could never pay you back. Like the dove, we are unable to see what benefit may come from our small acts of mercy, but that is all the more reason to do them. Whoever is an ant to you, whoever is weak and seemingly unable to repay your kindness, that is precisely who Jesus is talking about when he says, “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for me.”

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

“I Control Your Fate”

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This humorous Calvin and Hobbes strip simply illustrates a profound truth: we don’t have as much power as we think we do. We are at the mercy of circumstances beyond our control. A false sense of security and control are one of the greatest hindrances between modern people and faith in God. Humility before the awesomeness of creation and it’s creator gives us the proper perspective of our place in relation to things. As the Psalmist declares: “The earth is The Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all who live in it.” Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…