One of my favorite sights of spring is the arrival of the butterflies. Butterflies, those amazing creatures who are utterly transformed from lowly caterpillars into colorful, winged beauties, are wonderful symbols of resurrection. Their cocoons are the tombs from which they emerge into glorious new life. Butterflies remind me that death has been conquered, once and for all, and that someday we, too, will get our wings. And they remind me of something else as well…
Have you heard of the “butterfly effect”? The theory that the slightest flap of a butterfly’s wings ripples on and on and impacts the weather in a far distant location at a much later date? While the flap doesn’t directly cause, say, the tornado, it is one of the first conditions that set everything in motion, ending with the tornado. If the flap had not occurred, things would not have gone in the exact same direction. So even tiny things matter. They matter a lot.
The butterfly effect is an idea that reminds us that we are all connected, everything and everyone on earth, and that all of our actions have re-actions that extend far, far beyond us—for good or ill. Dropping trash on the ground matters, because too many people have done too much damage to our planet. Hurting another person matters to every person, because the harm caused diminishes us all. We are so deeply interconnected, and most often we don’t even see it. So we go on acting as if what we do has no impact, when in fact the very opposite is true.
This week a dear friend of our family was dealt a crushing blow. The sister-in-law of Julie’s boyfriend Stephen, Cathy Montoya, was brutally murdered in a home invasion in Atlanta, GA. I never had the privilege of meeting Cathy, but she was by all accounts an extraordinary woman: political activist, totally committed to immigrant, LGBTQ, civil and human rights. At age 38, Cathy left the world in the middle of her life, with so very much left undone. And yet…
Just maybe her short time spent on earth will be like that flap of a butterfly’s wing, that will ripple on and on and affect many lives far down the road, in ways we can’t even imagine. And, as many will attest, Cathy’s affect will be like the flap of the wings of a kaleidoscope of butterflies, touching the world in myriad, wonderful ways for many decades to come. She will live on in the memory of her beloved wife Meredith, in the memory of all whose lives she touched.
So this season, when you catch a glimpse of a Monarch or a Swallowtail hovering over the flowers, please think of Cathy and remember this: Whatever we do, whatever we say, matters. It all matters. So let us be the flap of a butterfly’s wing. Let us set positive change in motion. We can do it. We can.
May God bless the Cabell and Montoya families.