Butterflies, Psalm 27, and the Beauty of the Lord

When I first heard of Rachel Held Evans, I was already publishing books and articles and pastoring a church. We weren’t the same age, of the same ethnicity, from the same country, with the same background or church experience, and of course I wasn’t even a speck in her huge following. Yet when I retweeted one of the many reviews for Searching for Sunday, Rachel noticed, sent a tweet back, called me by name, and started following me too.

When I heard Rachel had been hospitalized, I joined the many others who were praying for her, and was so shocked and saddened when I heard that she had passed away. At the age of 37. Leaving behind a husband and two young children. With so many praying and now mourning her loss, I valued her voice and will miss her keen observations, wit, and willingness to reach out to others.

As I scanned the newspaper that night, I noticed an ad for a butterfly pin to commemorate the life of someone who has touched your life. It reminded me again of Rachel and of all those who have touched my life and are no longer with us. It reminded me of the women at my church who made a gorgeous butterfly quilt that’s used in the final farewell when a resident leaves a nearby seniors’ home for the last time.

I’m thinking of butterflies again today since I have pictures to share from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge, Ontario. My visit last month was a beautiful sacred pause before I spoke at the annual church gathering for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. My text was Psalm 27, so I’ve added in selected verses below for a reflective photo essay.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly. – Richard Bach

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10 thoughts on “Butterflies, Psalm 27, and the Beauty of the Lord

  1. Thank you, April. I followed Rachel’s blog for years, read her first two books, and it almost feels like losing a friend. My heart bleeds for her husband and children. Thanks for the psalm and the butterflies.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Laura. It’s amazing to me how we and so many can feel close to someone we’ve met only through her words. Yet those words and her spirit communicated powerfully across the distance.

  2. April, I’m so glad somebody thought to direct you to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory as a “sacred pause.” It is one of the local places that nourishes my spirit….
    Sue Steiner

    1. I can definitely see why, Sue. For the first while there was a busload of children, and I loved seeing their excitement and wonder. Then once they left there was time for quiet. I’m glad I was able to be there to experience both moods.

  3. Hello,

    This is the first of your posts that I’ve ever read, and I am unfamiliar with Mrs. Held Evans or her work. I am very sorry for your loss.

    I am writing because I have also just suffered a recent loss, and… it’s uncanny really. God talks to me via butterflies. They are everywhere in my life and He has named me His butterfly;it’s part of my nature. Your verse and the butterfly and even the pin and saying goodbye and growing and learning to let go and waiting and relying on the Lord, all of these things are coming together to ease me and I guess offer comfort in what I’m going through. It’s hitting me hard how pertinent this whole work is.

    I guess I just wanted to say thank you, and to remind you that God is working through you to touch people you’d maybe otherwise never be able to. I even have a butterfly pin. I think I might wear it as I try to get help.

    Thank you for your message, and I pray blessings and hope and peace upon you. May you move forward for His kingdom and find refuge in Him.

    Have a good day, and God Bless.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and words of blessing. I appreciate your taking the time especially since you are going through a loss of your own. It’s good to know that butterflies have a special significance for you, and convey a sense of God’s presence, comfort, and care. I see from your blog that you will be/are taking a break from your project. May you find rest for your soul.

  4. Thank you, April for the beautiful butterfly pictures and the wonderfully reassuring words from the Psalms. Our family is going through a season of sadness at the loss of my youngest brother who passed away suddenly within a day due to blood clots, just after his 70th birthday. It’s hard to lose a sibling. How hard it must be for the young husband who lost his wife and now has the task of raising two young children!

    1. My condolences to you, Elfrieda. It’s hard to lose someone at any age, so I pray for your family during this time of loss. May the Lord be your light and stronghold.

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