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Brunkan and Butterflies

Last weekend Father Brunkan gave that same knock me over the head message that I was needing to hear at the exact moment that he gave it…

Photo courtesy of Brenda Schmitt at Family Fun Night, Roseville

Father Brunkan told a story of a little boy and his interest in a cocoon that a man had.  The man had told the young boy not to touch or bother the cocoon. As time passed the young boy saw the butterfly inside starting to beat its wings against the inside of the cocoon.  The young boy panicked and did the opposite of his instructions and broke open the cocoon to help the butterfly get out. To his amazement the butterfly didn’t flutter away, instead, it dropped to the ground and died.  The boy was embarrassed and sheepishly returned to the man. The man explained to him that the butterfly NEEDED to struggle and beat its wings against the cocoon to build the strength to survive outside of the cocoon.


The first thing that popped into my head-Parenting!  As parents, there are so many times that we want to just fix things for our kids, especially when they are living in our homes (cocoons).  It is so hard to watch them make bad decisions, big mistakes, and get their hearts broke. It would be SO easy to talk to that coach for them, call that teacher, or chew out that other kid that stomped on their precious heart. BUT, that does not help them build their wings and fly.  As hard as it is to witness sometimes, we have to let our children flap their wings and struggle. If we as parents don’t let them struggle they will never, ever be able to fly on their own.


Then I thought about was myself.  There have been SO many times that I have asked why?  Asked the question about why certain things have happened in my life. Why Crohn's? Why meningitis? Why have I had to lose good people in my life? I guess the why might be to strengthen my wings. Had I not been through all of my health struggles I might not be such an understanding person.  Had I not had meningitis I might have chosen to live my life in a different manner and not be a person that focused on dreaming big and huge. The struggle has gotten me where I needed to be today!


Lastly, I started thinking about our agriculture community. We have been hit hard!  I would venture to guess that most farmers and ranchers would tell you that they don’t feel like a butterfly trying to flap their wings to strengthen them, but they feel like the butterfly that is trying to remove itself from the grill of a Chevy that was driving down a blacktop in rural Iowa.  It’s hard, EVERYONE is asking why. Why so much rain? Why floods? Why the prices? While I don’t know the answer to why I do know that there is no better community to witness coming together than the agriculture community. In hard times and time of loss of life, farmers and ranchers, resemble a roost of monarchs coming together and those farmers will beat their wings just as hard as those monarchs headed south to help a neighbor in need.  I pray that we continue to keep that same courage to keep flapping through this hard season of life, encouraging each other to look ahead and I know buried deep somewhere there is a plan to make us all stronger by beating our wings through it.

What does Father's story make you think about? If you have a favorite story from Father Brunkan I would love to hear it, you can write it in the comments.

From the gravel road-


3 thoughts on “Brunkan and Butterflies

  1. Robert Schmitz

    Hi Jen. I'm Robert Schmitz, CHS Class of 79. I remember Fr. Brunkan to be such a patient man, with a great sense of humor.
    His patience: one night at a sock hop, I broke the glass window on one of the doors on the far west end of the high school building. I was pretty ashamed of myself, and found him, and told him about it. He wasn't mad, and didn't ask me what I was doing on that end of the building. He simply said, "Well, we'll have to get it fixed, and you'll have to pay for it." Then he told me to go back to the gym and stay out of that end of the building. I was amazed and relieved. When I went to the office later that week to pay for the door, I gave it to him personally. He gave me one of those smiles of his. You know the one. He made you feel better, and maybe a little silly all at once with it. He may have even asked me what I was doing on that end of the building that night. I'm sure he knew well one of the things about young men that I've come to realize since, they do dumb things. He never mentioned it again after that. I've tried to use that lesson in my life when dealing with my own kids, and with other young people I've worked with in the National Guard.
    His sense of humor: one day I was having trouble getting my locker door to work correctly. It wouldn't open or close very easily. He happened to be walking by and I asked him about it. He said, "I thought you were a farm boy." and gave me another one of those great smiles. He pulled some chapstick from his pocket, and put a little of it on the mechanism inside the locker door. Then he said, " I thought you'd know it just needs a little grease." Immediately after that my locker door worked perfectly. Again, I felt better, and maybe a little silly. He was such a great teacher, and reminds me of how Jesus probably interacted with the young men around him.

    Thanks for the memories.

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