Dying antelope transformed into a butterfly

Antelope into Butterfly--Rear view

This sculpture from Zimbabwe shows the transformation taking place as a dying antelope is changed into a butterfly.

Have you ever encountered a work of art that profoundly moved you? A painting, a sculpture, a musical composition, a photograph, or a scene from nature—a sunrise or a waterfall, a field of sunflowers or a fiery autumn leaf?  Were you inspired to think deeply, to “Selah” the moment: to pause, to consider deeply while reflecting upon what you observed or heard, as you endeavored to understand more fully your breath-taking experience?

More than 20 years ago while living in Columbus, OH, I recall seeing a special exhibition called Chapungu, a collection of sculpture from Harare, Zimbabwe on display at the Franklin Park Conservatory. One of the sculptured works of art that particularly arrested my attention was entitled “Dying Antelope Transformed into a Butterfly.”

After considerable reflection, several scriptures came to mind, including 1 Peter 3:18 (KJV):

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

The New Living Translation provides this rendering:

‎1 Peter 3:18 (NLT):

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

The verse contrasts being “put to death in the flesh” with being “quickened or made alive.”

Translated from the Greek word zōopoieō, the expression meansto cause to live, make alive, give life, restore to life, endued with new and greater powers of life, of seeds quickened into life, i.e. germinating, springing up, growing)

The phrase “quickened by the Spirit” also brought to mind this stanza from the poem “Constant Reminders”:

God makes known to us a new covenant,

Quickened within us by a lively hope,

Energized by ever-increasing faith,

That we might know and be known by His love,

Surpassing even the knowledge of God:

How great and how precious is each promise.

The sculpture provided a graphic illustration of having been put to death with respect to the flesh in stark contrast to having been quickened or made alive with regard to the Spirit, inspiring this response:

A Lesson from Chapungu

Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;                                                                        

The snare is broken, and we have escaped.             

Psalm 124:7

With our eyes open to see what God has to say,

We stroll through varied green scenes while looking to see

Secret messages, sculpted letters speak clearly

In rocks that cry out from quarries of Zimbabwe.

Hunted game escapes, just beyond the fowler’s snare,

An antelope transformed into a butterfly,

Snatched from the clasp of death, energized to glorify

The God of the living, not the dead, to declare

Those who trust Him are released from the fear of death.

He upholds us with His victorious right hand.

Not even death can limit all that He has planned,

For God sustains all life and safeguards every breath.

The Lord protects His own, quickening flesh and bone,

That we might proclaim His praise as a living stone.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 124 “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord” from which the introductory verse of the poem is taken.

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