The Candle and the Butterfly

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Images of butterlies trapped by candles have been a siritual and religious symbol used throughout the ages, from pagan traditions to ancient Greek philosophy, through Abrahamic religions to eastern faiths, and can of course be interpreted in many ways. I first stumbled across the idea when I witnessed one such image on a beautiful mural in London, and just wanted to expand on this intriguing motif with a short story.

Submitted: May 20, 2012

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Submitted: May 20, 2012

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The Candle and the Butterfly

A billion moths were fluttering around aimlessly in the darkness, not really knowing where to go, and not really knowing what to do. They sometimes crashed into each other, or flew away from each other; sometimes they even chased each other, and over time, many moths were maimed and even killed, at times by accident, but at other times by intent. The remainder floundered with directionless fury, unable to see and find a place to settle, and doomed forever to do what moths are made to do; to fly. They would spend their whole lives like this, until one day - if they had not already fallen afoul of their fellows – their old wings would beat for the last time, and they would drop from the great cloud of their people into an abyss that never ended.

After a long time living in the darkness, great scores of moths had  become disillusioned at their existence and their dark world; not only because of the tragedies and inevitable death that beset their kind, but also because they saw no purpose, no meaning; in fact, in the perpetual twilight of their universe, they saw nothing at all. They were blind, and they despaired. Their despair rose until it condescended in their hearts as an impenetrable sheet of fear, and many moths closed their eyes forever, unable to bear to look out on the emptiness that was all around them.

There was one moth, however, who was different from the rest. He was young, and like so many in their youth, was driven by a great yearning. He saw a world in blindness, a world of great sorrow and grief. But beyond the madness of his race, he saw a peculiar spectacle in the distance. At first he did not know what it was, until he realized that only one thing in particular could be seen in a universe blighted by such perfect midnight.

It was a light; ever so faint, a point of haze in the abyss, a pin prick of radiance in the great obsidian ocean.

The moth decided to break from his people and set out on a journey to investigate this mystery. He tried, and failed, to gather companions for such an epic quest. His kin told him that he was a fool; indeed, many told him he was seeing things that no one else could. The young moth protested, complaining that they would not even look. But he was shunned as a madman, a dreamer, and, in dejection, set out alone.

The light was so very far away. He beat his wings with the great fury of youth, but soon began to tire. His pace slowed with every passing epoch of his life, the light still so despairingly distant, but drawing him on as it steadily increased in luminosity. He could feel the heat of it, hear the whisper of it burning. At one point he looked behind him, and saw nothing. His people were gone, lost in the darkness he had left, and for the first time in his life, he was truly alone. The creeping fear at this almost froze his wings; the dread and the terror of being by himself in the darkness almost stopped his tiny heart. But the light beckoned him on, and he would never look back again.

The more he felt a fool for wasting his life, the brighter the light grew. The more that his wings protested with age, the greater the heat that emanated and fired his heart. And the more that he wanted to sleep, the more the gentle burning of it whispered across the void.

One glorious day, the tired old moth look upon the miracle he had spent his life in search of it. The tiny star was in fact a furious sun. It blazed with colours the little creature could not comprehend, and burned not with a whisper, but a mighty roar. It called to him in a way that could not be described, and the moth realized at that moment, the light had wanted him as much as he had wanted it.

The light was so perfect and beautiful that the moth wanted to forget himself, to join with it and be a part of it forever. As he fluttered around it, bathing in divine radiance, the first time the darkness had been washed from his body, he discovered that he wasn’t a moth at all, but a glorious butterfly, his wings painted with motifs of great wonder, and saw that he was as perfect and beautiful as the light itself.

He noticed others that orbited the light in eternal bliss as did he, that had broken away, and been carried by their convictions until they had found their truth. They were as beautiful as he, and in a sudden epiphany that broke his heart, the little moth knew that he could not stay.

His people still suffered. They fluttered in the dark he had left behind, afraid and lost. He had to return, to tell them of the great wonder he had seen, to cure them of their emptiness. He needed to get them to come to the light, to realize that there was truth in this darkness, and that they were butterflies themselves. With great pain, he broke away from his nirvana, knowing he had not much life left, and hoping he would make it back to his home.

The moth was so very old by the time he returned, but a tiny part of the light was now within him forever, and it stretched the limits of his frail form, filled the chambers of his ancient heart. He lasted the great journey, and crowds of moths flocked to him.

 But his people greeted him as the fool they believed him to be, and laughed and scorned him with terrible bitterness when he spoke of this great miracle. None would pay him heed, and declared him old and senile, a fraud and a false prophet.

The old moth realized that they did not believe because they had not seen for themselves; and they did not see because they would not open their eyes. He noted, grimly, that the journey, and the faith and sacrifice needed to seek the light, were as important as eventually finding it.

Despite his great sadness, the moth found some who were willing to listen. He told them from the start that he could not show them the light; they would have to find it for themselves. But he could at least point the way, and devoted the rest of his days preaching a simple creed.

See the world with your eyes, and not through your fear. Never lose hope, and keep walking towards the light.

And once you have a little piece of it, spread it around until the hunger for it burns.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 El Steveo. All rights reserved.

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