by Ken Rolheiser
Journeying with God and Love

The story is told of a man who found the cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Suddenly it stopped making any progress and looked like it was stuck. The man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings.

The man didn’t think anything of it and sat there waiting for the wings to enlarge to support the butterfly. But that didn’t happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.

The butterfly’s struggle to get itself through the small opening was God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, to prepare itself for flying once it was out of the cocoon.

In our life’s journey we often struggle to meet challenges. The struggle makes us strong and develops our courage. God doesn’t always intervene to solve our problems for us. He let’s us grow strength and self-reliance.

In the story of Jesus walking on the water to rescue the disciples in the boat, Matthew 14:22-36, Jesus lets them struggle against the waves. Finally, he walks toward them on the water. They are frightened and think he is a ghost. “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid,” he reassures them.

In life’s struggles Jesus does not rescue us immediately. But he is always with us and always present. Is there any place where God is not? “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).

The consolation of God’s presence is around us daily - Nature’s beauty, the bird’s song, the cooling breeze, the sun set. And if we look for it, there are supernatural signs around us.

My brother shares this story. “My sister Isabel went home to the angels thirty years ago. Isabel loved prairie lilies. About a dozen years ago, these [lilies] appeared in our planter box around the anniversary of her passing.

“There’s no reason for them to be there – we didn’t plant them or introduce new soil… the only explanation that makes sense is that Isabel put them there. They come back spectacularly every summer… every year we are grateful.”

The most important thing to take with us on our journey of life is love. Many readers will remember the story “Box full of kisses”. A man’s three-year-old daughter wrapped a box in shining gold and put it under the Christmas tree for him. When he opened it, he saw nothing in it. He berated her soundly for wasting good wrapping paper in frugal times.

Later he felt badly and tried to explain to her: “Don’t you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside?” The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried; “Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They’re all for you, Daddy.”

The father was crushed and begged for forgiveness. A short time later his little girl died. He kept the gold box for many years, and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

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