Attracting Butterflies

Attracting Butterflies

This morning as I sat on the back porch, drinking a cup of coffee, I found a white butterfly flitting around.

It is the first one I have had a chance to notice since we moved in.  Maybe they have been here before and I just hadn’t stopped long enough to see.  Maybe our butterfly garden is actually working.

This spring I planted a grouping of perennials in the back yard designed to attract butterflies.  We have milkweed and dill, bee balm and lavender, coreopsis, and more.  Some of the plants have already been eaten by the rabbits (ugh, they eat everything!), but some are growing slowly but surely.

Of course, seeing as how it is probably a cabbage white butterfly, it might also have been attracted to the vegetables in the garden.

The whole business of attracting, whether it is bees, butterflies, or people is tricky.

First, you need to figure out what kind of creatures you want to attract.  I have had in the back of my mind monarchs the entire time we have been planting our garden.  I know how rare they are and how much they need habitat.  So, some of our plantings are intentionally focused on monarchs. That doesn’t mean other butterflies, like the cabbage white won’t show up.

And when they do, you need to adapt to welcome them as well.  The cabbage white looks beautiful, but it is also a pest in the garden because the larvae eat the leaves of many plants in the garden.  I took a chance and planted some cabbage and cauliflower this year, but it died before the butterflies emerged. I wonder what would happen if I planted more… not in the vegetables, but in the butterfly garden… not to be eaten by me, but by those very creatures I would love to make a home here.

When newcomers enter our church, they bring gifts and challenges and opportunities.  They cause us to rethink our priorities.  If we want to build relationships with them and keep them around, we need to ask what we might need to let go of and sacrifice to help create home for them, too, in our midst.  What needs to be transformed or moved to make space?

Not only do you need to have the foresight to identify what it is they want, but you have to have growth that will keep them coming back.

At first, I had a beautiful bee balm that was blossoming in purple.  But the rabbits nibbled away at the stalk until its no more.  The coneflowers and liatris have yet to blossom, so there is very little color right now in the garden.

I wonder how that relates to our efforts to attract guests to our church with something that catches their attention… yet whatever was new becomes sidelined by the other work of the church.  If we are going to change and invest in truly reaching new people, we have to continue to nurture and sustain those things that brought them in the first place.

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