The force of life

Two weeks ago I was cleaning the pool when a brilliant flash of blue caught my eye. A tiny butterfly was floating in a tangle of flotsam. After scooping it from the water, I could see that one wing was badly deformed and the other mostly torn away. Surprisingly, the little fellow was still alive.

After taking several photos, I left the butterfly perched on a table and finished skimming the pool. When I went to check, the butterfly had tumbled from the table to the ground. Clearly, it was unable to fly and stood no chance against the sharp eyed birds or the many frogs in the surrounding grasses.

I carried the tattered insect inside and placed it on a china plate, covering it with the inverted insert from a salad spinner. After snipping a variety of flowers from the gardens, I placed them in a small glass of water beneath the dome; a bottle cap filled with sugar water provided an alternative source of nourishment.

I’ve been checking on the butterfly every day since. Once, I found it floating on the surface of the water in the glass (not content with one near drowning, it must have fallen off a stem and gone for another swim). I removed the glass of water and instead have replaced the wilted flowers each day with fresh ones.

It has been more than two weeks since I first plucked this little blue jewel from the pool. My intention was to prevent a violent end to a life that already hung in the balance. I expected the butterfly might last for a day or two. However, judging by the colorful stains on the interior of the dome, it is eating and defecating both. Every morning I am surprised to find it yet alive, its normal life expectancy likely exceeded. Under better circumstances, the butterfly would have spent these days aloft.

If there is a lesson here, it is simply this: death may pull, but life pushes back. Hard. A mangled little butterfly, born with a handicap that precluded flight, has somehow adapted to unlikely circumstances and prevailed: it has lived.


“We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.”

Ray Bradbury

20 responses to “The force of life

  1. LOVE this Linnea!

  2. Awwww. How sweet! Nicely written & photographed!

    • Craig, thanks pal. The little critter is still alive–we are going on four weeks now…I will (and I no this sounds funny) miss he/she when they are gone.


  3. Your story of the butterfly and the most beautiful way that you wrote it moved me to tears. Wow. The metaphor is not lost. Love you and miss u.

  4. A tiny soul who has chosen to share the gift of her life! Simply lovely!

    • Tracy, I like her presumption of she ๐Ÿ™‚ It is my sense that that is correct. And I do feel graced by its presence.


  5. It IS a beautiful story and beautifully written! I must say, however, that sadly Ray Bradbury missed the mark. I know that our God who created the universe by speaking it into being also formed us in His likeness. He knew us even before He knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are His masterpiece! Wow! How majestic is His name in all the earth!

    • Carol Ann, thank you. I actually think Mr. Bradbury’s comment was sort of all inclusive…embracing the possibility of many different belief systems.


  6. I love this post Linnea. Thank you.

  7. It is a beautiful little thing, and this is a wonderful post.

  8. I can’t describe how much I loved this post – the story, the writing, the feelings it evokes. Thank you.

  9. I agree with Marie. I have read this post several times, and think about it even more. It is amazing at so many levels. It also makes me think of my husband, who is always humane to bugs and I love how he has taught me how to be gentle and kind for all creatures. You are like that as well. Thank you.

    • Thank you. I’m glad you’re husband is in the value insects camp as well–they can be truly magical (and in their way, majestic) creatures.


  10. Thank you Linnea. This is a beautiful story. You wrote beautifully and the pictures are amazing. Always look forward on you update.

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