Wednesday, November 20, 2013


The words ‘community’, ‘clusters’, and ‘huddle’ have been running through my thoughts as of late. You  may be thinking because it is Fall. My mind must be filled with visions of grapes on a vine, football, or family gathered around a Thanksgiving table. Or maybe I'm craving chocolate-covered peanut clusters. In part, you are right; however, I was thinking more along the lines of butterflies!

My family usually makes a trek to the Central Coast of California at least once every couple of years. Truly, it is my favorite place to visit in California with the June Lake/Mono Lake area running a close second place. For me, it is like stepping out of the world—a slower pace, more open space, a more clear vision of Him and His creation—to regain focus on what is truly important. A breathe of fresh air literally and spiritually.

Amtrak Coast Starlight

Moro Rock

Hearst Castle

Avila Beach

There is a very special place in that coastal area in Pismo Beach where the Monarch butterflies migrate every winter.  They spend the warmer months up in Canada and parts of the northern states but find wintering in the warmer climates of Southern California and Mexico much nicer.  Much like the migration of geese or ‘snowbirds’ as we affectionately call migrating/vacationing seniors.  The butterflies, however, have a beautiful aspect added to their migration habits.  They love to cling together in clusters on eucalyptus trees in October and November!

A Monarch Butterfly
Our trip to Central Coast this year took us, once again to this familiar stomping ground. I never cease to be fascinated by these graceful creatures and their gathering together. They are huddled in beautiful clusters like grapes on a vine or crystals on a chandelier. I love their need for each other, their dependence upon each other, their sense of urgency in helping one another. They gather together in early morning and evening to keep warm until the air warms up enabling them to spread their wings and fly. Their clusters among the eucalyptus leaves keep them well camouflaged to protect them from predators. As the sun rises and the temperature warms, each butterfly will gradually spread its wings and fly to its next destination. Often, they will return to that same resting place each evening for a number of weeks until conditions warrant moving onward.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 1 Peter 5:2

Clusters of Monarch Butterflies
 A cluster. A community. Of caring. Of sharing. Of providing for one another. For protecting each other. So intimate, so beautiful and so necessary for survival. By God’s design.

This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.  
1 Corinthians 12:29

We were made to cluster. We were made for community. Families, friends, churches, neighborhoods.  Yet, in our flesh, we want to ‘go it alone.’ We become exclusive rather inclusive—cliques, social circles, clubs—with standards, seen or unseen, that shut people out. We feel more comfortable with people who see things pretty much the way we do. We focus on differences rather than similarities or the wants of the few rather than needs of the many. We focus upon what divides us rather than what unites us. Not by God’s design.

 "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

Good things happen in huddles, clusters, and community. People form bonds, make plans, accomplish amazing things and share life experiences together, win or lose.

Just think how wonderful it would be if we were to cluster together, to reach out continually to one another, to share with one another, to care for one another!  To be inclusive. To truly be in this world but not of this world. Our emotional and spiritual tanks would be full rather than empty. What if we were to appreciate our differences, learn from them and grow together? Make friends rather than enemies. Agree to disagree without anger. We could shine our light upon others, bringing them into community to experience warmth, friendship, intimacy, transparency, love and security without feeling vulnerable. We could spread our wings and fly returning to our community to recharge our batteries and fly again. We would bless and be blessed. We would not be wanting. By His design.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42

So much more to learn (than science) from this delicate creature that God has created. So beautiful. So much like our Savior…. Let us reach out to others, as He did, to include rather than exclude, to embrace rather than disgrace, to accept rather than reject. He came and He died for us ALL!

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. Matthew 5:46
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23