Friday, May 23, 2014


For some reason my heart just sings over butterflies. I've never quite understood why, but I just love those little flutterers of colour.

Yesterday I was at the market, selling my jewelry when I went to say hi to a friend down the way. While talking with her, another friend, Sahar, came by with her pal Greg. It was quite wonderful to see them. As we walked back to my booth I saw an injured butterfly on the ground. Without even thinking about it, I bent over and let him walk onto my finger, and for the next hour that butterfly found a refuge by clinging to my shirt. When I came home the butterfly was now on my backpack, and I asked Shoghi to go out to the car and bring him in to the greenhouse tent in our back yard. We put him on a flower in there, and placed a small dish of sugar water nearby. I truly thought this injured little guy would perish in the night, but to my surprise, when I checked on him this morning, he was quite well, resting by the flap of the tent. And that, dear Reader, made my heart sing.

It also made me think about butterflies today.

And you know what? I think the Baha'i community in many areas is like a butterfly. Do you remember the old saying about how we are sometimes like a butterfly, starting off as a caterpillar and then becoming transformed into a beautiful butterfly? Sounds nice, right? Well, sometimes I think that little metaphor is a bit simplistic.

I was thinking about that the other day and realized that this isn't exactly what happens. It's a bit more complex, a bit more enlightening. The little caterpillar goes around munching on the leaves until one day it decides that it's time to change. Of course, this isn't usually a conscious decision. It is often forced by necessity of nature.

And there it goes. It finds a nice little place of safety and spends a bit of time wrapping itself in its cocoon. (Yes, I know that sometimes the cocoon exudes from its skin, but work with me here.) Then it spends quite a bit of time inside there. And it's not that it's doing nothing, resting and waiting. No. It's going through a massive inner transformation. It dissolves. It becomes a liquid. It truly undergoes an incredible and radical change that is not visible to one looking at it from the outside.

Only after this astonishing metamorphosis does it emerge.

And then, you know what? It rests. The butterfly will sit there for many hours resting after its tiring ordeal.

It isn't until it takes the necessary time to rest, to allow its wings to dry out and gather its strength that it will finally take flight.

That's where I think we are. Most of us, at least. The Universal House of Justice, in the2014 Ridvan message, spoke of a "lull in activity" that sometimes occurs in a community. And that's perfectly natural. Of course, it doesn't mean that we should be content and just sit there doing nothing. But rather that we should recognize it as part of the process of growth and transformation, not get discouraged, search on the reasons for the impasse and strive to move forward. But it takes time. And that's ok.

That's what I've learned from the butterfly.

I think that right now many of us, many of our communities, are undergoing this transformation. Perhaps it is not visible to those looking from the outside, but we are changing nonetheless.Some thing that we have taken for granted, such as walking around on those little legs, may not be needed anymore. We may change them for the long and beautiful legs of a butterfly. And you know what? Necessary as they are, they won't be our primary mode of transportation anymore. No. We'll mainly use our wings.

Of course, I have no idea what those wings will be, but I look forward to learning about it with the rest of us.


  1. My first thought went to "... the fluttering of a butterfly's wings may set off currents that will grow into a large storm."