Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 6, 2011


The butterflies taught us two valuable lessons


          Workaholics like me are reluctant to take a day off. We are afraid the world will stop spinning if we stop working. But occasionally a man must put down his tools and do something enjoyable with his family.

        So one lovely day in May I surprised my wife and her mother by proposing a trip to Callaway Gardens to see the Butterfly Center. Dean and Sarah were delighted. Living in Opelika we were only 40 miles away so we figured going to see the butterflies and flowers 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 as proud as a peacock. I had taken a day off. Even the heavy rain we encountered did not dampen my spirit. We arrived on schedule. 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 one or two butterflies were flying. It was like they too had taken the day off. Where were the butterflies?

        When I asked that question of an attendant at the center, her answer ruined my day. 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 by my side stared at me as though to say, “Way to go Big Boy, you brought us all the way over here on a day when the butterflies don’t fly?” Suddenly our wonderful day was a flop and it was my fault.

        I felt dumber than dumb. Had my brain been in gear I could have checked the weather report and planned the trip on a sunny day. But no, as usual I had charged ahead without thinking. For years 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. With her characteristically dry wit, 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. And laughter can turn a bad day into a blessed day.

        Perhaps the most important lesson was that we can 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 when he affirmed, “Behind the clouds the sun is shining.” Believe it – especially when it is raining – and life will be sweeter, even for workaholics. + + +