After visiting the massive farmers’ market in downtown Madison, Wisconsin two weeks ago, my family ran into a woman on a sidewalk who was holding extremely still, looking at a beautiful swallowtail butterfly on her clothing. The butterfly had just barely emerged from a cocoon between some bricks on a building, and had managed to fly only a few inches before landing on her. This beautiful “born again” creature was drying off its new wings and preparing to take flight. Soon it would be soaring above the trees, but at the moment it was completely helpless, dependent on the mercy of its protector. The woman kindly allowed me to take some photos, shown above, and several others joined us to admire this delicate and gorgeous creature. It tried to fly again but only went a few more inches before landing on another part of her clothing. After several minutes, it gathered its strength and launched into the air, and we cheered as it flew up into the sky and disappeared into the upper branches of a tall tree.
As I pondered the successful emergence of the butterfly from the cocoon into the freedom of flight, I remembered how delicate we all are at various stages of our lives. This is especially true for those who are newly born again as freshly baptized members of the Church just beginning to recognize the power of the wings of the Spirit that can guide our flight through the challenges and dangers of life.
For newborn converts, there are many who lie in wait to ambush their faith with hostile literature and slander, belittling a religion that has long been “spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22). Without some protection and loving help, the attacks of others can lead delicate converts away and make quick prey of them.
We all may need nurturing and protection from kindly hands, often unappreciated at the time, who watch over us and shelter us in our most vulnerable times. For some, it may be a home teacher or bishop, a parent, a friend, or a mission president. Rarely can we succeed on our own without the help of other mortals in addition, of course, to the help and influence of the Savior.
Many thanks to that kindly woman in Madison for her example of care.