She stood at the side of the path, ready to talk to anyone who would stop. A position well chosen on this warm afternoon as the crowds streamed into the park, hungry for the sight of vibrant spring flowers and soft green grass.
As I drew near she thrust a clipboard towards me. I recognised the logo and a quick glance at the photos told me she wanted me to help save the environment and create a better world.
“Do you care about the earth?” she asked, sensing I knew something about her campaign.
“Then let me tell you about our campaign,” she continued earnestly, describing how consumption and materialism were damaging the earth and putting our survival at risk. We were exploiting a finite resource and millions of people were already suffering the effects of our greed.
I had heard similar examples and pessimistic predictions before and, yes, I was happy to agree on some points, but I was unsettled by her unspoken assumptions.
My opportunity to challenge her came as a butterfly settled on a bush beside us.
“What a beautiful butterfly,” I exclaimed. “The colours are so bright in the sunlight.”
“It’s lovely,” she agreed.
“And the wings are so delicate,” I continued. “I’m amazed they don’t tear in the first puff of wind. God has designed them so well.”
She started to frown.
“You don’t believe what the Bible says about God creating everything?” I challenged.
“You think this butterfly is an accident? Here by chance?”
“Yes, I do.”
“But the beauty of the butterfly. How can such beauty and detail be an accident?”
“It is an accident,” she persisted. “ A happy accident.”
“Then why try and save the environment? If we are all an accident, here by chance, why worry about it?”
Now she looked uncomfortable and in the next few minutes it became clear she did not want to leave the future to chance. She wanted hope, for herself, her children and her grandchildren. A future without hope, ruled by chance, was too awful to contemplate.
I thought she looked sad, almost haunted, when our conversation ended.
“I agree with you on one thing,” I said as we parted. “We have to look after our environment, but I’m convinced I have a better reason.”
“God and the butterfly?” she smiled.
“Yes. Have another look at the butterfly.”
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