Persons, places and things: The color of prayer


Barb Arland-Fye

Megan, a mother in our community critically injured in a car accident last month, loved to watch the metamorphosis of butterflies. To encourage her in the healing process, many of us are coloring and displaying pictures of butterflies in our home windows or downtown business windows.


Teresa, the facilitator of our parish’s prayer chain, forwarded the unique request for support for Megan that included a link to a template of butterfly images to color. Coloring was one of my favorite activities as a child, but that pastime went by the wayside in adulthood, although I enjoyed “assisting” my sons when they had coloring assignments from school or religious education. Three years ago, I received a box of 24 colored pencils as part of a birthday gift, but seldom used them because other activities took precedence.

The prayer chain request provided an excuse for me to set aside a little time to color a butterfly for Megan. We were encouraged to include a message, Bible verse or prayer with our artwork. Regretfully, I overlooked that detail and concentrated instead on creating the most colorful butterfly possible. In the process, I discovered that coloring became a form of prayer in the three separate sittings it took to complete the artwork. I don’t know Megan or her family, but they came to mind each time I selected a colored pencil to apply to another section of the butterfly.


The picture-in-progress remained on the coffee table in the family room where my husband Steve and I prayed morning and evening prayers. We added Megan and her family to our prayers and they will remain on my personal prayer list for as long as they need this special intercession.

Finally, my butterfly was ready to take flight. I couldn’t help but admire the colorful image and felt a bit reluctant to let it go. But I asked Steve to drop off the picture at the downtown business of Pam, a friend and fellow parishioner, who planned to display images of butterflies in her store’s windows.

“Care for God’s Creation, resources for liturgy, preaching and taking action” (2020), offers suggestions for homilists that include a reference to butterflies that helps me to reflect on these wondrous creatures. “…Wildlife fills our life with joy and refreshment. Songbirds and birds of prey, squirrels and rabbits, butterflies and lightning bugs all carry a message worth discovering” (p. 16).

Sam Ellis, founder and editor of Catholics & Bible, says, “The terms transformation and metamorphosis share the same root in Greek. They describe the dynamic lifecycle of a butterfly. The same word used for the lifecycle is also used in describing the transfiguration of Christ. This is not mere coincidence; it is symbolism because both processes involve radical change” ( 55yu47ru).

I cannot imagine what Megan and her family are living through as she remains hospitalized, but her love for butterflies, an amazing gift from God, can provide hope for the journey ahead. Family, friends and strangers like me are making sure that she has plenty of butterflies to lift her spirits.

My butterfly image did not include a written message, prayer or Scripture for Megan, but the color of prayer is visible in the completed artwork. It is the metamorphosis of my prayer.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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