One night about 15 or so years ago, I saw a moth the size of my hand. Because it was dark, I couldn’t get a clear look at its markings, but knew it was the largest moth I had ever encountered.
I shared my experience with someone who knew about these sorts of things, and I was told it was a Luna moth. And that was the end of that.
Until last week.
While watering at the retreat center, I stopped dead in my tracks and slowly turned off the hose. There, on the curb, not ten inches from where I stood, was another of the same large moths I had seen ages ago. I assumed it had just hatched because its wings were not fully spread and its fuzzy head was still smooth and flat. It was ever so slowly moving its wings…to which a five inch spread would be realized.
In my excitement I called to another gardening volunteer who came scurrying over to view my discovery. Then I called over the priests from the retirement community next door, who were out for their morning walks.
I couldn’t contain myself and wanted to share this experience with everyone I could. I called people out of their offices, pulled them from their chores, stopped them as the drove by. We all looked and exclaimed and marveled at the beauty and size of this winged creature.
I knew, from what I had been told years earlier, that seeing one of these moths was amazing in itself. To see one in broad daylight and freshly hatched was truly miraculous! And I said so to all who came to see, and told them how privileged we were for the experience.
Eventually we all returned to our tasks, slightly richer for having seen another of the Creator’s amazing creations.
About two hours later I learned that it was not a Luna moth at all, but a Saturn moth. I felt a deep sense of bewilderment and almost shame for the error I had made. I blindly believed what I was told by someone I thought was an expert. I had spread this false information to others and it felt like I had deceived them into experiencing something that was not true.
What should have remained an awesome experience was now tainted. I was saddened by what should have remained a joy.
To those whom I could, I corrected myself and apologized for misleading them. In my heart I knew I had innocently shared misinformation as “truth,” naively perpetuating a falsehood. Graciously, and with minimal disappointment, they each expressed delight in having shared a moment of wonder.
|Image by endlessforest.org|
My lesson in all this is that truth bears out. The truth is that the moth was an amazing creation given to delight us by our God, and that my ostentatious expletives (to elevate my character?) did not add to the beauty of the gift.