Lessons from a vanishing caterpillar

INTRODUCTION. It’s amazing how much you can learn from the disappearance of a beautiful insect.

I had come out of the house for my daily inspection of the front shrubs and hanging plants. I needed to assess how much of my azaleas the deer had eaten last night. The motion-sensing spotlight had deterred the “tall goats” for a couple of nights, but once the pests learned that no harm came from the bright light, its defensive value was lost. Now, it was just a contest to see if the azaleas could grow faster than the deer could eat.

But this morning, I was met with a pleasant surprise. There, parked right in the middle of one of the purple loropetalum leaves, was a beautiful yellow caterpillar. It was one of those sort of furry caterpillars with a faux stinger sticking up from the end of its body. The bug was just long enough to fit on the leaf from end to end, and I decided I wanted a picture of the insect. So, I ran in and grabbed my iPhone and headed back out.

It was then that the challenges of my sixty-two years raised their ugly heads. For instead of immediately going to the caterpillar and taking its picture so I could show my wife and all my friends, I decided to do a little weeding in the mulch beds. Then I needed to pluck off the dead leaves from the cherry laurels. Next, I checked in the side yard to see how my tree seedlings were fairing. Only then did I remember that I was supposed to take a picture of the pretty yellow caterpillar, and when I returned to the loropetalum, my little furry friend was nowhere to be found.

Sadder but hopefully wiser, I considered the lessons I could have learned from this experience. (In no particular order . . . )

  • Do not be distracted from your objective. There will always be many trivial things that can prevent you from accomplishing the objective. Stay focused on the goal.
  • Do not delay in getting the task done. Rather, get it done now.
  • Each opportunity comes with a short fuse. Opportunities are fleeting, and once the opportunity is gone, it disappears forever.
  • Opportunities in life are like sunsets. They must be captured now, for they fade quickly.
  • The sooner you accomplish this step, the sooner you can accomplish the next step, so get going. You do not know how many steps there are.
  • Faithfulness will be tested. God is the one who gives me opportunities, and then I am accountable for what I do with those gifts. I want to be a faithful steward with what the Lord entrusts to me.
  • In general, my time is short, and my strength is fleeting. I am “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).  The psalmist says, my “days are like grass, as a flower of the field. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer” (Psalm 103:15-16). Therefore, I must act now, I must seize the moment now if I am to have any impact at all.

So, when you see beautiful insects perched on purple leaves, grab your iPhone and take the picture. In a few minutes they may be gone forever.

SDG                 rmb                 7/28/2022                   #556