I went to the zoo yesterday with my son and his entire first grade class. I’m always astounded by the size and personalities of all the different animals. I was especially enthralled by this darling little Mandrill Baboon and his mother. He wanted to play so badly and his mom was incredibly protective of him, as if we could come through the glass and hurt him in some way. We saw lions, crocodiles, snakes, elephants, giraffes, and birds of all types.
There were some stunning creatures.
We had lunch at a picnic table in a clearing with the sun shining on us. It was such a different pace of life for me. When lunch was over we packed up and walked over to this little painted cottage just beyond the clearing. It was a little house of bugs.
I know, you might be hardly holding it together at this point, due to the creepy crawly syndrome. Hang with me.
I’m almost past it.
We walked in the door and found the walls covered with bugs in glass cases. Bugs of every kind. All with little pins holding a number. If you wanted to know what type of bug you were looking at, you had to look up the number on a legend in the bottom left corner of the case.
There was one particular case ,with a green cutout as the backdrop, that was the shape of Texas. On that cutout, were all the bugs naturally found here in Texas. There were beautiful butterflies. There were colorful and frightening looking bugs too.
I was instantly drawn to this light greenish, blueish butterfly with scalloped wings.
It was beautiful. It looked so graceful hanging there.
I thought, I want one of those! But I’ve never actually seen one. What is that?
So I looked up it’s number.
138. . . 138. . .
It’s not a butterfly! It’s a MOTH! A Luna Moth. Oh yuck! Never mind.
Then I quickly walked away. I had no more interest in that beautiful creation. It was a pesky moth that might eat holes in my sweaters and leave my closet stinking to high heavens.
In an instant, a label turned that beautiful butterfly into a gross, bothersome bug.
Want to know what’s really interesting?
I just did a quick google search and Luna Moths don’t eat; in fact, they don’t even have a mouth. They only live for about a week, and their only purpose is to mate. That moth would never eat my clothes or stink up my closet.
She’s only meant to be breathtakingly beautiful.
But I passed her by because of a label, a number, that in my mind, indicated she was a sweater-eating, stinky, annoying moth.
It makes me wonder how many times I let labels determine my attitude and behavior before I have any idea what’s really going on.
Before I have any idea who that person is.
Our world is full of labels. We use them like the legend in the bug cottage. We use them to navigate our lives. To know who’s safe, who’s like us, who’s radical or lazy.
And it starts early.
We label each other conservative or liberal. Fat or skinny. Tall or short. Married or single. Gay or straight. Religious or pagan. Nice or mean. Athletic or clumsy.
The list goes on.
I wonder what would happen if we simply took notice of the labels in advance of our responses, our actions.
I might have stayed in wonder of the Luna Moth a little while longer. I might start looking for her at night. I might even seek her out, in hope to see those beautiful wings in flight across my lawn.
I encourage you today, and over the weekend, to take notice of the labels that define your actions toward others.
Then consider pushing the label aside, just long enough to see her true beauty.
Maybe there’s a lot more to her than you think.
Maybe she’s meant to be breathtakingly beautiful.
You simply haven’t seen it, because of her label.
Push the label aside, even for a minute. You just might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
To more love,