Wonder in a Butterfly’s Wings


This is a blue morpho butterfly, native to Central and South America.

My wife and I spent part of Saturday at Texas Discovery Gardens, next to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The gardens’ featured attraction is the two-story Butterfly House and Insectarium, an indoor tropical rainforest fluttering with hundreds of butterflies.

Morphos are hard to photograph because you typically only see their blue wings when they’re flying. Rarely will a morpho rest with its wings spread flat; usually they’re folded and you can only see the brown, camouflaged underside. For whatever reason, this one lighted on a concrete post for a few minutes Saturday, revealing a secret to my camera that my eye would have missed.

Its wings aren’t really blue. They’re iridescent. Think of the spectrum of colors you see in a soap bubble. Now add microscopic scales, each reflecting light, covering the wings. The result is a funhouse mirror effect. What you see in the photo is a reflection of the sky and trees.

That’s astounding.

What does any of this have to do with writing stories? Good writers, I think, carry an eye for detail and a supreme sense of wonder. They notice details, surprises, story angles that others might miss. Some seemingly insignificant moment or mundane attribute might provide a means to write something deeper.

So, the contents of a debris pile outside a flood-damaged house become a symbol for a family’s emotional loss. A picture in a pastor’s office of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet provides a glimpse into a servant’s heart.

Or, an iridescent butterfly wing becomes a portal to the wonder of God’s creation.

You just have to develop an eye for it. Rich Mullins nailed it in his song, “Here in America”:

And there’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see.

But everywhere I go I’m looking.


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