Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton  

July 6, 2008


Remembering the lesson of the beautiful butterflies


          Workaholics like me often hear family members say, “Why don’t you take a day off and do something enjoyable with your family?”

          The question struck a good chord in me one day in May. Dean’s mother, Sarah, was still alive and living with us at the time. Quickly we settled on going over to Callaway Gardens to see the Butterfly Center. That would be great fun.

          Three days later we were on our way to Pine Mountain, Georgia. Our plan was to arrive about eleven o’clock, enjoy the beautiful butterflies, have a leisurely lunch, and return home that afternoon.

          I was proud of myself. I had taken a day off. We arrived on schedule despite the heavy rain that kept pouring down. Mama was happy. Grandmother was happy. I was happy because they were happy.

          Entering the Butterfly Center, we began looking for butterflies. To our great surprise only a few butterflies were flying. It was like they too had taken the day off. Where were the butterflies?

          That was the question I asked an attendant at the center. Then the hammer fell. My face fell as the attendant said, “Oh, didn’t you know? The butterflies don’t fly on cloudy, rainy days like this. You must come back when the sun is shining.”  

          The two sweet ladies with me stared at me as though to say, “Dummy, you brought us all the way over here on a day when the butterflies don’t fly?” Suddenly our wonderful day was ruined and it was my fault.

          I felt dumber than dumb. Any fool could have checked the weather report and planned the trip on a sunny day. But not me. Planning ahead has never been my game. Just make a plan, then charge ahead without thinking. That was my style. I knew that whether she said it or not, my wife was thinking, “Will the dear man ever learn?”

          To compound our frustration we picked the wrong place for lunch. The food was not good and the service was poor. Grumbling and complaining, we made our way to the car and started home. We all felt defeated. A nice day had turned into a nasty day.

          But on the way home, with the rain still falling, Dean’s mother saved the day. Without intending to be funny, Sarah said, “Well, you know those butterflies are smarter than we are; they have enough sense to stay out of the rain.”

          We started laughing and could hardly quit. We were dumber than a little caterpillar turned butterfly. The life span of a butterfly is so brief, from two days to two weeks at most. Butterflies are nothing more than colorful little insects yet they know to stay home when it’s raining.

          The butterflies taught us more than one valuable lesson that day. Wise planning can demonstrate that human beings have greater intelligence than little butterflies. Laughter can turn a bad day into a blessed day.

          Perhaps the most important lesson was that we must learn to handle the rainy days of life. The sun does not shine on us every day. As Longfellow said, “Into each life a little rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.” He was right. So it behooves us to equip ourselves with ample wit and wisdom to make it through the rainy days.

          No matter how depressed or discouraged we may be on a rainy day, it helps to remember than the sun will shine again. Longfellow nailed it: “Behind the clouds the sun is shining.” Believe it – especially when it is raining. + + +