“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” — Carl Sagan
Ah, but Mr. Sagan, you of all people should know that infinity is poorly understood, even by humans. Perhaps our most profound mistakes occur in our perceptions of finality; in our willingness to accept the limits drawn by what we can immediately perceive with our five known senses. The tiniest visible particle contains within itself unseen worlds with complexity to rival the galaxies that were your life’s focus.
One of my church sisters spotted the butterfly pictured above while we were on an early Saturday walk on a woodland trail. It seemed apparent to us that this lovely creature must have been dying, for it did not fly away when we approached. Gently, we lifted it from the trail and placed it in the shaded area beneath a tree. As we left it behind, it was still nearly motionless. But in a sense, it will live on in the photographs I took, which I am sharing with you now. This same butterfly may be visited days or months hence by other blog readers, its beauty extending beyond its ability to flutter, leaving us with a renewed awareness of brevity intersecting with lingering presence.
Eighty-eight years ago today a baby boy was born in the humble home that was the birthplace of his own mother, a home that still stands today. He would go on to live a fairly typical American life, normalcy touched with flashes of astounding wonder. He taught his children more about infinity than any astrophysicist could have, and on the day he died, he left behind him on this earth three unborn great-grandchildren to add to the seven already blessing the world with love and laughter.
Some of us believe there is more to life than the brief day described by Sagan; that every person’s journey on earth carries within itself, hidden as the atoms and particles that are no less real for their invisibility, the forever that may not be an illusion at all.