Thoughts from a Chaplain

  • Published
  • By Chaplain Daniel Millner
  • 149th Fighter Wing, JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas

Fred Rogers once said “Attitudes aren’t taught; they’re caught.” We communicate so much to each other by the way we approach a task. If we love what we do, if we show enthusiasm for what we do, and what’s more, if we let others see our attitude, they will pick up on that. They’ll say, “Hey, I want that too!” Or, “Hey, I’d like to be like that!” They’ll be inspired by your attitude to attain that same level of love, eagerness and purpose that you have. With that in mind, let’s inspire each other today and every day by our attitudes, by the way we speak and act, by the way we make gains, and by the way handle setbacks, so that we can be the best Gunfighters we can be - working together to accomplish our mission.

“For I am mindful of the plans I have made concerning you, declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not disaster, plans to give you a hopeful future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

A young boy was walking in the woods when he decided to climb up a large tree and watch the sun set. As the boy began climbing, he saw a caterpillar’s cocoon gently hanging from a branch. The boy took a moment to examine it and noticed a small gap appear in the cocoon through which a butterfly would emerge. To his great excitement, the boy saw the butterfly inside of the cocoon struggling to break free. The boy waited and waited. The butterfly was trying very hard, but the gap in the cocoon didn’t budge, it remained as narrow as before. The boy grew worried that soon the butterfly would become tired, and it would be trapped inside forever. He worried that it would never be able to escape into the cool forest air, spread its wings and fly.

So, the boy decided he would help the poor butterfly. He took out a penknife and carefully cut the cocoon. The butterfly immediately emerged, but its body seemed weak. Its wings could barely move. The boy continued to watch the butterfly, thinking that now its wings would spread - that now it would fly. The boy was waiting for the moment when the butterfly would effortlessly flutter through the air, sweep over the tall grass and bounce from flower to flower. But this moment never happened.

For the rest of its life, the butterfly had to drag its weak body and heavy wings which never fully spread. It was unable to fly because the
boy did not realize that the butterfly needed to try; it needed to struggle to enter this world through the cocoon’s narrow gap on its own so that its body and its wings could be strong enough to fly when it emerged as a developed, strong and transformed butterfly.

If we live life without meeting challenges and difficulties, if we do not see the light of a new day emerge through the narrow opening in the hard shells of doubt, frustration and hopelessness that surround us, if we choose not to struggle and try to emerge through those narrow gaps on our own, we won’t be able to emerge on the other side as our strongest selves - transformed and able to fly. Life gives us challenges to make us stronger.