Ask me how fast a butterfly flies and I'll tell you they fly exactly as fast as I can pedal up Casa Nova Road after a long, hot day in the saddle. As I feverishly tried to keep pace with the fluttering wings, I thought that all things considered, my ten miles per hour was a far cry faster than humans have traveled for most of recorded history.
Prior to the industrial age, man plodded along at a quarter of my speed either on his own two legs or upon the four of some beast. It wasn't until 1860 that the first Pony Express rider, Johnny Fry, set an astounding twelve miles per hour average record, covering the eighty miles between St. Joseph, Missouri and Seneca, Kansas in six and a half hours. Within thirty-five years, automobiles were speeding about New York City as fast as Johnny rode.
By 1908, Henry Ford had made the automobile affordable for everyone and just fifty years later the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways came into being. The distance between St. Joseph and Seneca had been reduced to just over an hour, all while traveling in air-conditioned comfort.
It hardly needs to be said that these days we have supersonic jets, bullet trains and an information highway on which the details of our lives travel virtually instantaneously. One could endlessly debate the gains and losses to our well-being, sense of community and spirituality that our high-speed society has brought about.
instead, this September take a moment from your hurried life to consider the Monarch butterfly; better yet, take an afternoon. For it is this time of year when upwards of one billion Monarchs take flight on their annual migration from North America to the Sierra Madre Mountains of central Mexico.
From your backyard, hillside or heath, look up and you may be astonished to see a line of butterflies traveling their long journey, covering the daily equivalent of the distance between St. Joseph and Seneca, on invisible roads known only to themselves and God.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. -Psalm 19:1