A quote in Gyorgy Konrad’s A Guest in my Own Country: a Hungarian Life – (I am on my second reading of it) goes like this:

Poverty is more than a condition; it is a blow, a disaster, a pit you fall into….Moral philosophy must be built on human frailty and our acceptance of it.

This quote has been one of a number of “butterflies on the path” in this amazing and alarming book (alarming because of its matter-of-fact writing about the violent demise of quite a lot of people), where possibly despite himself, Konrad allows his Jewish moral (and hence biblical) framework to seep through his writing. Here is another:

If a person’s choices and actions count for anything, then this day, from the rising up to the going down of the sun, is his constant pilgrimage. There is no line between everyday and holy acts.

This is just wonderful and deeply encouraging to all of us trying to live under God’s hand rather inadequately.

On Wednesday we were walking through a section of woodland that lies between the villages of San Zeno di Montagna and Sperane, above Lake Garda. For a long time (some 500m, which is good going for a butterfly) we were accompanied by what I later found out was a Queen of Spain fritillary and then later by another, and another.

In fact, it was as though we were accompanied the whole time on our walk by these gracious creatures – not just crossing our path, but “accompanied.”

So I began to think about frailty and beauty, the light and shade that is altered and disseminated by the wings of such animals, and about how the gentlemanly Holy Spirit, sent as advocate and helper, can be like this – increasing our wisdom, gently reminding of Jesus’ presence in and around us, but also being a comfort and a companion on the daily pilgrimage.

The image seemed to link the two quotes from Konrad above very neatly. At a time when my holiday was meant to serve as opportunity for my overwhelming anxieties about school to ebb, the butterfly serves to remind me of what another dear friend wrote to me at the end of last term:

We can do this together with the team we have got. We have God at our side, ahead, and behind and he deeply desires for us to succeed for the good of His kingdom and His children.

This butterfly thing may be a motif we can watch out for over the year to come. How many of these things do we miss because we have not geared our eyes and hearts to see them? If I hadn’t seen the fritillary and if I hadn’t scoured Google to identify it, I would in all probability, two days later, missed the extravagantly large dancing swallowtail that flew before me on the top of the Rocca di Garda the day we left for home.


About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

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