To Catch a Butterfly (story about reverence)
Marilyn Wood, “To Catch a Butterfly,” Friend, May 2001, 20
Be still and know that I am God (D&C 101:16).
They were twins, but they really didn’t look alike. Josy was taller than Kelsey. She had bright blue eyes, bouncy hair, and dimples that danced on her cheeks whenever she giggled. Kelsey, on the other hand, had a long golden ponytail that went swish, swish when she walked. Kelsey loved to tease. Her deep brown eyes would sparkle when she told a joke.
The people in Littleton loved them. Mr. Brooks, at the supermarket, said it was because of their smiles. “No,” Mrs. Applebee said. “It’s because they always say hello to everyone.” Little Max liked them because they played games. Jim, the delivery boy, said the girls were just plain fun to be around. Whatever it was, everyone agreed that the twins made people happy. Everyone, that is, except Sister Crane and Sister Goodwin.
“What are we going to do about them?” Sister Crane said. “I try to teach a new song in Primary, and they sing too loudly. Kelsey sings off-key, which makes Josy laugh. Soon the whole Primary is laughing. They need to learn to sing quietly.”
“What are we going to do about them?” Sister Goodwin asked. “I try to tell a story about Jesus. At first the girls listen, but then Kelsey finds something funny in the story, and Josy starts to laugh. Soon the whole class is laughing. They need to learn to listen.”
“The girls were twirling down the hallway last Sunday.”
“They don’t always sit on the bench.”
“Sometimes they take their shoes off in class.”
“They giggle in the middle of the quiet song.”
“We need to tell their parents.”
“No, we need to send them to their parents.”
“Break them up. Don’t let them be in the same class.”
Sister Turner, the Primary President, listened quietly. The twins weren’t bad children. They were just a little disruptively happy. “I think that maybe I should have a talk with Josy and Kelsey. Maybe I can make a difference.”
The next day, Sister Turner backed her bright yellow van out of her driveway. She chugged down the street, over the bridge, and across the park to the twins’ house. Josy came running out of the house. “Hi, Sister Turner,” she called. “Look at our new puppy!”
Just then Kelsey came out of the house, chasing a black and white puppy. Kelsey giggled as the puppy darted back and forth just out of her reach. Josy joined in chasing the puppy around in circles. Round and round they went, until the girls gave up and dropped to their knees on the grass. The little puppy pranced up to them and sat on Josy’s lap.
Sister Turner started to laugh. Suddenly she had an idea. “Girls, would you like to go to the zoo with me to see the new butterfly house?” Josy giggled. Kelsey grinned. They loved the zoo. After getting permission from their mother, they were on their way in Sister Turner’s bright yellow van.
A butterfly fluttered by Josy’s face as she opened the door of the butterfly house. “Wow,” she giggled as clouds of colorful butterflies flew over her head. She grabbed at a pink one, but it flitted away. “Let’s catch one,” Kelsey yelled, running to the other side of the room. Yellow, blue, pink, and white butterflies flew gracefully over her head.
Some of the butterflies landed on tree branches. Josy cupped her hands and crept up behind a black and orange butterfly. It flew quickly away. Kelsey turned round and round surveying the room. The beautiful butterflies were everywhere. They hovered over the pond, covered the trees like blossoms, and even dotted the path. Laughing and giggling, the twins chased the butterflies everywhere. But the beautiful insects always stayed just out of reach.
Finally Josy and Kelsey became tired and sat on a bench by Sister Turner to rest. “I guess you just can’t catch a butterfly,” Kelsey said.
“You can, if you know how,” Sister Turner replied. Josy and Kelsey looked at Sister Turner with interest. Sister Turner smiled. “Girls, do you know what reverent means?”
“Sure,” Josy answered. “It means fold your arms and don’t talk.”
Sister Turner chuckled. “Well, being quiet is part of it, but that’s not really reverence. Reverence is a feeling. It’s hard to explain, but maybe I can show you. Do you want me to?”
Kelsey grinned. She didn’t know what this had to do with butterflies, but Sister Turner knew just about everything.
“You need to sit very still and be quiet,” Sister Turner continued. “That’s the part about reverence that you already know. But if you’ll do that part, I think you’ll be surprised by the rest.” She took each girls’ hands and dipped them in the pool of water. For several minutes they just sat there with their hands cupped in front of them.
Kelsey listened. It was very quiet in the butterfly house. All you could hear was the drip, drip of the water tap.
Josy watched as the butterflies flew in the trees and hovered over the pool. They were very close. Slowly, slowly a butterfly fluttered toward her, dipped down, and landed on the palm of her hand. Josy started to giggle, but Sister Turner shook her head. Josy sat very still, watching the butterfly sip at the water on her fingers.
Sister Turner took Kelsey’s hand and placed it next to a butterfly on a nearby flower. The butterfly gracefully walked onto her hand to drink the water. A warm glow filled the girls. They had tried hard to catch a butterfly, and now, just by being quiet, each was holding one in her hand.
As the girls held their butterflies, Sister Turner whispered softly, “Reverence is a lot like these butterflies. You don’t catch a butterfly. You let it come to you. You don’t catch a reverent feeling, either. It just comes to you when you are quiet. It’s the warm feeling you are feeling right now. You can also feel it when you think about Jesus Christ or anything else wonderful. When you are in Primary next Sunday, think about how quiet you had to be to have these butterflies in your hands. Then think about Jesus, and see if you get that same reverent feeling.”
The next Sunday the twins hurried to Primary. Sister Turner greeted them at the door. She smiled and pinned a small paper butterfly on each of their dresses. “Now remember, girls, don’t scare your butterflies.”
Josy smiled. Kelsey grinned. Reverently they walked to their chairs and sat down. It was quiet in the Primary room. Kelsey listened to the soft music Sister Crane was playing. Josy closed her eyes and thought about Jesus. Slowly the girls felt a warm feeling come to them.
“Look at the twins,” Sister Goodwin whispered. “They are being reverent. What did you do?”
Sister Turner smiled. “It was easy,” she whispered back. “I just showed them how to catch a butterfly.”