Once again, my husband of few words blessed me with a sentence that stuck with me and prompted me to write the following words of my own (The podcast version of this post is available here: Chasing Butterflies.).
Each spring my hope of capturing clear photographs of butterflies takes flight. It starts the moment I glance out my kitchen window and spot a yellow swallowtail gliding over my garden greenery in search of flowers in bloom. The first sighting ignites a prayer. I ask God to please allow me the privilege of getting some lovely pictures of the beautiful creatures, creatures He made for us to see and enjoy.
Several butterflies later I finally found myself with a camera in hand while my husband and I walked through a public garden that was allowing no more than fifty people at a time to visit it. Joy of joys. We were the first guests to arrive, and aside from a handful of volunteers, we had the entire place to ourselves.
My husband sat on a nearby bench overlooking the rose garden while I photographed a humongous sweet-smelling peony flower that buzzed busy with honeybees. And that’s when I spotted a swallowtail. She flitted over the fading rhododendron flowers and then swooped down and alighted on a pink foxglove.
Stealthily I inched closer, not wanting to startle her. Click went my camera. Again, and again.
The butterfly showed off her acrobatic prowess by climbing up and down the sides of the plant and then sprung into flight again. She floated over the white flags waving in the cool breeze that played with my stray hairs that refused to stay under my cap.
I followed her and clicked more shots.
And this is when my man of few words said, “Chasing Butterflies would make a great book title.”
Though two passions of mine suddenly collided—and exploded like fireworks—I still managed to keep my composure and my camera’s focused and attuned to photographing the subject at hand.
I squeezed my husband’s arm with thanks while sunshine caressed my shoulder with warmth that matched our sunny moods. “Yes,” I said. “That’s a perfect title.”
I breathed deep while excitement as thrilling as the birdsong all around us threatened to derail the photo-shoot. I wanted to drop everything, run home, and write.
My husband had no idea I had spent much of the morning daydreaming and planning on how to move ahead on a book idea that’s been brewing in the back of my mind. I had already written a rough draft of a book proposal and a few sample chapters. It was an idea that sprung from something I failed at over and over again. It was about the art of listening, learning, and loving. All three are deeply connected—deeply intertwined.
Chasing butterflies is much like pursuing intimacy within conversations with others. If one is not careful, not a gentle and still enough listener, words won’t alight in one’s mind or heart. The art of listening deeply so that meaningful conversations happen is akin to following a butterfly around a lovely garden. One must tread considerately. Barging in during a pause startles or discourages the speaker from landing on another flowery phrase.
To listen is to pause and ponder. To learn is to wait in the silence for an encore that dips deeper into the nectar of beautiful thoughts and lovely revelations. Love happens when we’re still. Be still and know that God speaks in whispers and gentle nudges that are easily missed if we impatiently rush to fill the silence.
I love words. I love writing them, hearing them, and speaking them. But I’m lousy—oh so lousy—at listening. And this is why I desperately need to chase more butterflies in each and every conversation that lands in my life garden. I need to remember the swallowtails and how they won’t share their loveliness with me if I move in too close, or too fast. People, like butterflies, need room to fly. Need time to drink in silence. Then speak. Then pause. Then sup some more stillness before being satiated with the sweet nectar of inspiration that overflows with heartfelt phrases worthy of the wait.
Listen to what James 1:19 NIV says about listening:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Chasing butterflies wisely in our conversations with God and others helps us listen, learn, and love better.
And now I’d like to close with a poem:
When we listen closely
And hold back our replies
We hear the heart of the speaker
And show the love of Christ
When we listen closely
And wait in silence for more
We’re giving respect to others
And sharing the love of the Lord.
I’m nosy-to-know if you’ve recently read something that inspired you to listen to others deeper and wider?
Butterfly blessings ~ Wendy Mac
21 thoughts on “Chasing Butterflies #memoir #amwriting”
You certainly succeeded in capturing photos of this butterfly. The first photo is particularly gorgeous. I listened to Proverbs 15 the other day. https://biblehub.com/nkjv/proverbs/15.htm It is not so much about listening but about being careful with words, with how we speak.
Thank you, dear friend. Yes, “how we speak” is as important as how we listen. Words that promote wellness are much better than words that wound. <3
Wonderfully told butterfly adventure, Wendy, and as always, such amazing photos. May we pursue more loveliness 🦋
Thank you, dear Susan. Amen to pursuing “more loveliness.” <3
Beautiful analogies Wendy! Just beautiful. I too have rushed in, in conversation and with butterflies! hehe. Both have not been rewarding. Patience, and being led into their world slowly, (as in conversation), is golden. Isn’t it? Beautiful photography as always.
Thank you, dear Linda. <3 Yes, allowing ourselves to be "led into their world" is the golden key to listening and loving well. It doesn't come easy, but it's so rewarding.
This is poetic! Beautiful prose! That will be a lovely title for your book and I look forward to reading it!
Awe. Thank you, dear Tina. I need to write this book. My first motivation is so I can grow a better listening habit in my own heart. God’s been nudging me for years to prick up my ears. <3 The world is in need of listeners.
A great title.
It pays for me to pay attention to my man. 💝 ☺️
Such beautiful words and photos here today! During some of my hardest days, God has sent butterflies to lift my eyes to Him. I love that thought of “Chasing Butterflies,” and I look forward to your upcoming book! Oh may I learn more about listening to what He is saying to me, as He sends those precious butterflies into the middle of my trials, and trust more deeply that He is listening to me also. Blessings to you dear sister!
Thank you, dear Bettie. Yes, He is listening to and counting our tears. I’m so grateful that’s what our Good Father does. You’ve inspired me to consider chasing more butterflies in the silence of suffering too.
A timely and inspirational write, Wendy. Lovely to see your photos of nature… and sharing the verse from James. How we need to encourage one another! ❤
Thank you, dear Iris. 🙂 Amen to your words: “How we need to encourage one another!” <3
This is so beautiful, both the photography and the analogy between chasing butterflies and being a good listener. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and pause to attain the reward of a more intimate relationship.
Thank you, dear Manette. I love how you worded this: “… slow down and pause to attain the reward of a more intimate relationship.”
Yes, deep listening is one of the most rewarding things to do.
Thank you, Wendy! I just found your blog when looking for Christ-centered poetry blogs, and I think I’ll stay a while. I am looking to start up a literary journal modeled after Bezalel and Oholiab in the Old Testament–artisans filled with the Spirit! I appreciate your peaceful words and inspiration.
Thank you for stopping by, Daniel. Blessings on your venture for Christ.
Great story and photos. Thanks
Thank you, Geri.
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac