While walking along the beach with one of my brother transitional deacons, speaking of what it means to be just a few days away from serving in parishes as priests, ministering to the People of God in Trenton, my brother stopped suddenly. Now, this was a big beach, we had walked a good distance already, and he had noticed a butterfly about an inch and a half long flattened into the sand where the waves had receded. With gentleness he carefully lifted it up by one wing, and as he placed it in his other palm, the butterfly moved a little. It was still alive! Soggy, weighed down with grains of sand, but alive.
He carefully placed it a little further up the beach. Then, not content that it was safe there, he carried it up toward the dunes, fashioned a bit of a perch out of some sticks, and rested this weary creature on a branch in the sunlight to dry off.
I would have missed the butterfly as we walked.
I was content when it was moved a little above the surf line.
Jarlath was not content until this small creature was safe.
Saint Francis would be proud, and I am so proud to count men like him as my brothers in ministry. I learned how easy it is to pay attention to God's creation all around us, and to make a difference.
It reminded me of a story told of a boy throwing starfish from the beach back into the ocean; an old man watching asked him what he was doing, and he said he was saving the starfish. The old man pointed out that he couldn't save them all, and his actions didn't make a difference. The boy threw one more into the surf, and simply said, "It did for this one."
There's one more butterfly in the world. Jarlath made a difference. Thanks for the lesson, my friend!