The name Huguette Clark isn’t one many people would recognise. You could trawl the celebrity gossip columns in back issues of newspapers and glamour magazines going back half a century or more and you will more than likely fail to find the name Huguette Clark.
Yet Miss Clark had a better claim to inches of newsprint about beauty and wealth than many, perhaps even most, of those who dominate those kind of headlines today.
The beautiful daughter of an industrialist and senator, she inherited a vast fortune. At some point, however, she decided that she wanted to retreat from the outside world. Then, in 1991, at the age of 85, she was discovered living in one room of her luxurious Fifth Avenue apartment. She used a single candle for light. Her feeble body was dressed in a soiled bath robe and her face that had once radiated such beauty, bore the ravages of skin cancer. She covered her mouth with a towel, not wanting to reveal the damage inflicted on her lips by ulcers.
The doctor who discovered her eventually persuaded her to receive medical treatment and she spent the next nineteen years of her life in a caring environment.
Despite making a good recovery, she never left the hospital for the outside world again. The doctor who originally found her in such need asked her why she did not want to go out. In response she simply read a poem about a cricket and a butterfly. It was a coded way of saying that she preferred the anonymity and security of being a cricket to the freedom of the butterfly.
Whilst everyone is entitled to make their own choices about how they live, you cannot help but feel that when someone with the kind of resources that Huguette Clark had decides to live a reclusive life, resources have been wasted.
Sometimes for Christians, even those who would claim to be Spirit-filled, there is a kind of spiritual reclusiveness that envelops their souls. It is tragic when that happens. Tragic, because not only do they not have the joy of seeing their gifts used to bless and build up others, the body of Christ is denied the priceless treasure that Christ has invested in that person.
It might seem like stretching the point a bit, but we are called to be more “butterfly” than “cricket”. We are more about freedom and boldness than restriction and reclusiveness. Just look up “boldness” in a concordance for the King James version of the Bible.
But there’s another take on this. In Mark 9.2 the Bible uses the word transfigured to describe what happened to Jesus on Mount Tabor when His inner glory was revealed and Moses and Elijah appeared to Him. The same Greek word is used in Romans 12.2 and 2 Corinthians 3.18 to describe our being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. The kind of glory that He exuded on the mount of transfiguration is being revealed in us. It’s not hidden. It’s revealed. It’s not locked up and reserved for the glory of our mansion in heaven or even reserved for the relative privacy of church meetings. Christ’s glory is replicated in us for the world to see. We are being morphed into His likeness.
And morphed is a very appropriate word to use, since the Greek word we translate as transfigured or transformed is the word from which the word metamorphosis is derived. And you don’t need a degree in biology to know that the term metamorphosis is used to describe the process of change that produces butterflies.
We might feel a certain security in chirping like crickets, but we were born for the freedom of the butterfly.