Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Purposefulness (Purpose in Life) (05/25/06)
TITLE: Of Butterflies, Bees, and Being
By Ann Grover
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Caleb, my preschooler, woke up at six o’clock and disturbed the baby who immediately wanted to be nursed. By then, it was breakfast time, with no hope for another little snooze. I just gave Caleb a bowl of cold cereal.
“I don’t want this,” he whined.
“Sorry, buddy, it’s corn flakes today.”
“NO!” The bowl became airborne.
I strapped the baby into the high chair and blotted up milk and sodden cereal.
I gave him another bowl, this time, the marshmallow-infested kind, but at least he was eating quietly. The same couldn’t be said of Hannah, who was regaling us with an earsplitting aria.
I nursed her again while Caleb fished for the last of his cereal.
I balanced Hannah, still attached, and helped Caleb crawl down.
“Go play with your trucks, sweetie,” I suggested.
“NO! Tv!” We moved to the living room, where I surfed through channels until I found a children’s program. We settled back, and I let my mind wander.
I loved my children more than life itself, but I constantly felt overwhelmed by their demands. I never seemed to accomplish anything.
Hannah gurgled contentedly, clutching at my robe, and I marvelled at her starfish hand, the tiny pearl nails. But the wonder was short-lived, as she gave an ominous rumble, and then spit up, milk running down the front of her sleeper and my pyjamas.
“Caleb, I need to change Hannah.”
When I came back to the living room, Caleb was gone. Hearing splashing water, I checked the bathroom.
A frothy waterfall was cascading onto the floor. A facecloth was crammed into the drain, and Caleb had pumped hand soap into the flood.
I threw bath towels onto the floor as I turned off the tap. Caleb grinned. He was soaked.
A dry outfit for Caleb and a begging from me that he play nicely with his blocks for a bit. I gathered up the bath towels, started laundry, and wiped down the counters while Hannah rode on my hip.
I’m a slave, I thought. A beast of burden. A dairy cow. Is this my only purpose in life?
I sighed. If it was, I was a dismal failure.
The day got worse. The washing machine didn’t spin the towels, Hannah wouldn’t nap, and I was still wearing my robe in the afternoon, by which time the spit-up milk had soured. Then, when Caleb helped me empty the dishwasher, he dropped a glass and broke it.
“Go to your room, Caleb!”
The words hurled from my mouth and landed on Caleb like a slap. His little face crumpled, and he ran.
We needed a break.
I shrugged off my soured robe, pulled on jeans, and buckled Hannah into her stroller. I knocked on Caleb’s door.
“Let’s go to the park.”
He came out reluctantly, biting on his lower lip.
We didn’t speak as we walked, and at the park, he went silently to the swings. I pushed him, feeling remorseful, but he lost interest quickly and headed to explore the trees nearby. Keeping an eye on him – Hannah was finally asleep – I listened to the birds, a droning bee, and the wind. A butterfly drifted by.
In the peace, God spoke into my heart.
What is your purpose, you ask. Look at the butterfly. Hear the bees? See the flowers? What is their purpose?
Butterflies and bees pollinate. Flowers make fruit.
Do they know what they are doing?
No, they are just looking for nectar. They have no idea they’re pollinating. They are just being butterflies. Just being bees. Flowers just... are.
Do you see? You desire a grand purpose for your life, but all I want is for you to be. Love Caleb. Love Hannah. Be you. My Whole and Holy Purpose is hidden from you, just as it is hidden from the bee.
My wretched day dawned again with a new light. Hannah’s gentle breathing and Caleb’s laughter became a symphony, and suddenly, soured milk was an elixir as sweet as honey. I would embrace being their mother, being me, and just do the things that would draw nectar from each day.
And let God take care of the Design and Purpose that I can’t see.
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