Parable of a Butterfly

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Several years ago a little girl caught a small green caterpillar and placed it in a jar. She fed the caterpillar Queen Anne’s Lace leaves daily and watched as the caterpillar grew fatter and fatter, then one day she was surprised to find a chrysalis in the jar. She placed the jar in a safe place and put a damp cotton ball in there. One morning she woke up to find a beautiful yellow swallowtail flitting around in the jar, trying desperately to fly. Her mother told her that she needed to set the creature free so it could use its wings and do what it was created to do, but the little girl exclaimed, “It’s mine. I raised it from a caterpillar. I took care of it and fed it and watered it and kept it safe from my cat, so I want to keep it. It’s mine.”

“If you keep the butterfly in this jar it will die without ever doing the things it was created to do,” her mother said.

“But I love the butterfly,” the little girl protested. “If I take the lid off the jar it will fly away and never come back. Then I will not have a butterfly.”

The young mother knelt beside her daughter and spoke gently. “If you love something you must set it free when it wishes to go. Love doesn’t try to own another living thing. When we keep a thing because we can’t imagine being without it, then we don’t love, we’re just afraid. Love makes us brave and gives us faith. Fear makes us selfish. Do you understand?”

The little girl nodded. “Okay. I will set it free.”

So, they took the jar into the front yard and the child removed the lid. The butterfly first perched on the rim of the jar, then it flew into the maple tree and fluttered about from branch to branch, leaf to leaf. All at once it flew free of the tree, across the yard, and over the field beyond, going higher and higher, a flash of yellow in the sun. The little girl laughed. “Look at it go, Mommy! I am glad I set it free.”

Years later, a young woman loaded her belongings into her gray car and pulled out of her mom’s driveway. The now middle-aged mother watched her disappear over the horizon, a lonely tug in her heart, tears in her eyes. Her daughter was off to life in the world, to an apartment and a job and a man and a…a whole suitcase full of dreams. As her mother stared at the country road leading away from home she saw a yellow swallowtail light on the mailbox and folding and unfolding its wings and she remembered.

Love liberates. Fear imprisons.

The Life of a BEAST

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Before I go into my spill, let me tell you a true story.

My dad used to tell me that if an animal wasn’t trying to eat me and I didn’t need to eat it, then leave it alone. That’s not to say that he never killed a wasp. He and my little brother were highly allergic to bee stings so when a nest of hornets decided to nest on our front porch, he did what he had to do to ensure that Mark didn’t get stung.

I don’t ever remember my dad killing a snake, either, and the things he did kill, we ate. Of course, our dog, Rusty (half pug, half chihuahua) had no qualms about snake killing. He once grabbed a copperhead just seconds before my brother would have stepped on it.

I do remember my daddy killing a pack of wild dogs, because one of them trapped my brother, Johnny, in the barn. Wild dog packs work in unison. One lures or traps the prey then the others move in for the kill.

If I remember correctly, Johnny had gone into the barn to feed his calf. At that time, our neighbor about a mile down the road had been having trouble with a pack of about thirteen dogs that were taking down calves and picking them clean, leaving only bones in the field. The wild dogs had become a real threat and Daddy had been telling us to stay close to the house. (Back in those days, we kids would wander a mile or more from the house, just playing in the woods and I was bad about wandering off to explore.) Johnny picked up a stick and was yelling, then my dad ran into the barn and started hollering at the dog, it ran out. I am not sure where Rusty was at, maybe off galivanting with me.

Later, Daddy made a decision that went against his nature. He and my uncle went pack hunting down on the creek. I can still recall standing on the front porch, cringing and feeling mixed emotions as I would heard gunfire and then a whimper several times. The dogs had a right to live, too, but I was relieved that my brother was alive and I knew my dad was doing what he had to do in order to protect us. This wasn’t an otherwise good dog in the henhouse like Old Yeller. This was a feral, hungry pack of predators, working in unison to bring down cattle and kids. Maybe they had once been somebody’s pets but their humans forsook them. I remember Daddy saying it wasn’t the dogs’ fault that they were hungry and wild, it was the sorry humans who dumped them.

Back then, people used to drive unwanted animals out in the “middle of nowhere” and abandon them. The dogs would find each other, form packs and attack anything that looked like a meal. We happened to live in the “middle of nowhere” and all of those strays made their way to our home at one time or another, either in the form of a friendly dog, looking for a human family or a wild pack, hoping for a meal. I used to be terrified that the pack would eat me. Even to this day, when I read a story about dogs attacking someone, it takes me months to move past it and I grieve for the families of such horrors. The story of little thirteen-year-old Cory Godsy up in Knott County still haunts me.

Then there were the CATS. In our world there was no such thing as a useless cat. They not only kept us rat-free but they also provided hours of companionship and fun. Some of my best childhood memories involve cats, but I won’t go into them right now.

………….and now……… spill.

Proverbs 12:10 says, A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are only cruelty.” Now, let me say that in my own words, “A person who seeks to be in harmony with God’s way respects the life of his or her animal and takes responsibility for it but a person who is out of harmony with the higher way of being does horrible things to animals and thinks of themselves as kind. They are spiritually ignorant and don’t have a clue.”

The following excerpt is from a post I did back in 2016 but it still holds true today…………………

“One after one, people are telling me of incidents where their family pets have been shot, poisoned or maimed and nothing was done, where officials brushed complaints aside and did nothing to investigate them, where people are literally afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation against their families...

As I comb through state laws, my mouth just drops open at the unfair, lax laws and nonchalant attitudes some people hold in regards to cases involving children and/or animals...

Let me highlight just two incidents. Someone recently told me that a little dog the children of Sparksville Kentucky’s Antioch Church liked to play with had been shot to death. Who does that? Who kills a friendly dog that an entire congregation of children love? I’m not even sorry to say that I think this is a type of cruelty, not only to the dog, but to those children!.

Sunday, a friend told me that her great-granddaughter… along with nine other children, was walking down the road with their dog in Columbia, Ky. The dog always walked with the children. A man came running out, screaming and cursing at the children. He pulled out a gun and fired eight shots into the dog. Eight red hulls fell to the ground. The children were about fifteen feet from him. He kept firing, even as my friend’s great granddaughter broke into a run toward the dog to try and save it. This man fired a weapon while a child was running toward it, risking her own life to save the dog she loved.  The child, terrified and wailing, fell to the ground and cradled her dead dog in her arms. The man who shot it? He had no compassion, either for the child or the dog, nor the other nine children who were terrified for their lives. The girl’s mother took photographs of the dog and of the evidence, but the police, upon arriving on the scene, refused to do anything because when the dog fell, his head landed on the man’s property. The girl’s parents said they thought it was wanton endangerment of a minor but the police went on to say that because they were only children that their testimony wouldn’t amount to anything in court, that it would simply be the children’s word against the shooters. The officer didn’t have to go home with the little girl that night and hold her when her nightmares started. The shooter didn’t have to go to the hospital with her when she became so hysterical that she needed medical help. Furthermore, when the girl’s father stated that it was against the law to fire a gun in a residential area, the officers told him that it was a “misdemeanor at best.” However, I’m left wondering. How is this NOT child abuse? Would you want your child to witness that? To go through that horrific experience? Besides, officials told the mother that Kentucky laws were on the shooter’s side. The dog had no rights. And apparently, the families of those children have no rights, either. They were brushed off and now, they are afraid to come forward with names for fear of retaliation from a gun-wielding neighborhood bully with anger management problems.….update: the shooter discovered he had cancer not long after this incident and passed away from it. Maybe he was sick at the time of the incident and didn’t know it or maybe, what he sent out into the universe came back to him. Who can say?

…according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Kentucky ranks 50th in the nation in regards to animal protection. And, according to the Animal Welfare Alliance, we rank 56th! Even territories have better laws regarding the treatment of animals than we do! Kentucky is a state known for famous horses and award-winning cattle. Why aren’t there better, more humane  laws in place to protect other animals, like dogs and cats?

I leave  you with this quote from the Kentucky Law Journal.

Several studies demonstrate enhanced animal protection laws could significantly impact society by decreasing human violence. As one scholar states, “[t]he [l]ink between violence to human and animal victims is undeniable.”[39] Cruelty to animals has been associated directly or indirectly with violent crime, including sexual homicide, homicide, and rape..[40]  Large numbers of violent criminals begin as animal abusers.[41] One study showed that 75% of prison inmates charged with violent crimes had an early record of animal cruelty.[42] Additionally, adults who abuse animals commonly abuse their spouses and their children, as well as elderly people for whom they are caring.[43] The FBI now officially recognizes a link between animal abuse and violent crime and has begun collecting data on animal abuse.[44] John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association states, that “[i]f somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human.”[45] Thompson went on to say that “[i]f we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”[46] Putting an end to animal cruelty has the potential to drastically reduce the percentage of violent crime.Anthropologist Margaret Mead once noted, “[o]ne of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.”

For more information, visit the Kentucky Law Journal at:

A note on my personal beliefs:

*I believe there are only three motivations for every act of humanity: fear, love, and stupidity which I define as the willingness to remain ignorant in order to avoid personal growth and/or responsibility. Deliberate ignorance destroys lives. 

When people fear being powerless they become greedy and cruel in order to feel that they have power, but love (gratitude, appreciation) causes faith (positive feelings and thankfulness for a thing coming to pass as if though an expectation has already been met, even before we see it with our natural eyes) to rise up within us and  when we live in love, fear has no home in us. It can’t stay. Love chases it away. Animal abuse, actually any kind of bullying, narcissism, greed, or abuse is a result of fear of being powerless or not enough. When you realize that you are enough, you no longer have to fear not being enough.  Animal neglect, however, is a result of biting off more than you can chew because you’re ignorant of your own limitations.