Sr. Liz reflection website

Miracle at Salvatorian Sisters Residence

By Sister Elizabeth Ann “Liz” Christensen, SDS
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In the spring, Sister Jean Marie, SDS plants dill in a small, raised bed in the corner of the courtyard. And then she waits for butterflies to come and lay their eggs on the plants. When she finds a tiny, quarter inch long black speck on a strand of dill, she cuts the stem and puts it in a little bit of water at the bottom of a transparent container, along with a twig with several “branches.” And then she lines the containers up in her bedroom and waits.

This year I asked if I could have one of the containers in my room. She surprised me with one for my birthday. My vision was of a bright green cocoon encircled with gold dots (which is what a monarch chrysalis looks like), but what I got was a twig with a dried-up looking blob on one of the branches. I also got a note saying the emergence would likely happen somewhere around the 2nd of July or later.

So, I waited. And waited. And kept eyeing this black blob. And wondered if there was any life there – mostly thinking there was not.

And then on July 8, after ending a phone call I glanced at the “blob” and at that precise moment saw the top begin to crack and a head emerging, followed by feelers and two legs. The miracle of metamorphosis had happened!

After letting the somewhat bedraggled black swallowtail butterfly climb all the way out of the blob and crawl up to the top of the twig, I gave her some rest. About an hour later several of us gathered in the courtyard for the release. She didn’t come out of the container right away, so I removed the twig. She hung on, one leg on the twig and one on my finger. At the suggestion of Sr. Jean Marie, we went over to the pot of baby pansies on the table and Miracle (which is what I named the creature) finally grabbed a flower. She sat there gaining strength and after we had all left for Mass, she flew away.

Black and orange swallowtail butterfly sitting on a flower petal.
Miracle, the miraculous butterfly

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