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The Mystery of the Monarch

The summer Jacob was born, Bill took our girls to Minnesota to visit their grandparents. When they came home, they brought with them a caterpillar who was making a cocoon attached to a leaf in a jar. They had found it there and couldn’t bear to leave it. To be honest, I really kind of thought nothing would ever happen. I mean seriously, it had been handled by a two and a three year old and there’s no telling what it had been subjected to on the airplane ride back to Texas.

I was also a little concerned because I knew that monarch butterflies migrated, each year, from the North to the South. And what if “our” buttefly, having gone to sleep in the North and then waking up in the South, emerged totally confused? Not knowing what to do?

But about a week after they got home I saw some activity in the jar one morning. “Come look! Come look!”, I yelled as they hurried over to see what was happening.

And little by little that beautiful butterfly began to emerge from it’s cocoon. Not ever having a “pet” butterfly before, we called the butterfly museum at the Museum of Natural Science. We figured they could tell us what to do - seeing how they were the experts and all. They told us to leave it alone and set it outside. It needed to sit for several hours so its wings could “firm up” or “strengthen” or “cure”.

Sure enough, a few hours later, that butterfly emerged from the jar and flew out into the world. It was amazing to watch and seemed to provide so many comparisons with life. Bill and I were “firming up” our children’s wings, so to speak, to get them ready to fly into the world. There was a lesson on not rushing, but taking time to do things the right way, or maybe not growing up too soon. The list of analogies went on and on for me.

I loved watching that butterfly make it’s way around our yard and eventually fly off to bigger and better places. For weeks I kept wondering, as I saw butterflies flying around our neighborhood, if that was “our” butterfly. I wondered where it had gone … was it going to migrate to Mexico. Would it hook up with it’s friends?

Which leads me to the mystery. For years researchers have been studying why, every year, monarchs trek across the country to Mexico. I read this article today which explains that researchers recently found that the antanae of the monarch butterfly accounts for it’s knowing how to make the amazing migration they make from North to South each year.

They did an experiment where they dipped the butterflies wings into paint. Some got black paint, the others clear. What they found, I think, is so symbolic, I had to share.

The researchers found that the butterflies which were dipped in black paint couldn’t find their way but the butterflies dipped in clear paint had no trouble navigating. And even more interesting, the butterflies dipped in the black paint could actually see the light, but still got lost. In other words, they could see the light, but were so dipped in darkness, that they couldn’t find their way.

One of the researchers was quoted as saying … “it’s a fascinating biology that’s begging to be understood.”

And I’m not sure what they are going to learn from this experiment, but this is what hit me, … and yes, I think it is fascinating ….



When we are covered in darkness (sin) … we get lost.

And, my gosh, how many of us (all) have been able to see The Light, we know He’s there, and yet we still chose to remain in darkness thinking … we’ll find our way out? We can do this.

But, just like those monarchs, we aren’t going to find our way.

He is the light. He is leading us. We need to dip ourselves, not in darknes, but in light. The Light.

The Light of the World.

Mystery solved.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. Jn 12:46 #

Comments: #

Deanne - Sep 5, 2009

very nice.

Melissa - Sep 6, 2009

Wonderful post! I truly enjoy reading your blog.

willing2riskready2go - Sep 1, 2009

This is amazing! I love monarchs and was one for halloween once. I made my own costume out of poster board and was so proud of it. The costume was really lame and I wonder if my mom thought about putting a sign on her back that said “she made her own costume” so that no one would think my mom’s artistic ability was that bad! I still love monarchs!