My Heart-Song: Dog and Butterfly

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My Heart-Song: Dog and Butterfly

So there I was at the Outlaw Preacher’s (Re)Union 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee just minding my own business when this beautiful woman approached me and reached out to me with a hug. Of course being the kind of guy that likes hugs from beautiful women, I returned the gesture.  I recognized her
immediately as Joy Wilson, the pretty prayer lady.  Or at least that is what I knew of her.  I had no other recollections of Joy other than her postings on Facebook, her blog and her terrific little book Uncensored Prayer.

Well there was one thing. She did send me a little Facebook message telling me to come to this thing and “be blessed.”   She did have somewhere in her mind, this little window into my soul that not even I could view.  She knew I needed this get together, I really didn’t think so.  In fact I was tired, beat up, burnt out and disgruntled and ready for a fight, but a blessing sounded good.

It was in our first conversation that we discovered that we are both writers, and that I read her blog. It was also in this first conversation that she said, “well, you will have to guest blog on my site then.”  I
was honored to be asked to contribute to anything she was doing, and so I just said “Yes.”  Yes, I would.  I asked her if there was anything in particular she would have me write about and she then lowered the boom on me.

She said, “you know what I want you to write about?”

“Uhm, no not exactly.”

“I want you to write about your heartsong.”

I don’t know if I was visibly confused or not, but she then responded with,

“Do you know what that is?”

In my head I was thinking is she asking me if I know what my heartsong is, or is she asking me if I know what a heart-song is?

I said “Yes.”  Even though to be honest I really didn’t have the answer for either of those

“Well it is the thing you care about the most, something that makes your heart sing, something like that.”

I smiled and nodded affirmatively and started thinking.

So let’s go back a bit. As a child I remember a song that particularly appealed to me.  I was maybe 12 when I first heard this particular “Heart” song.

There I was with the old man

Stranded again so off I’d ran

A young world crashing around me

No possibilities of getting what I need

He looked at me and smiled

Said “No, no, no, no, no child.

See the dog and butterfly. Up in the

Air he like to fly.” Dog and butterfly

Below she had to try. She roll back down

To the warm soft ground laughing

She don’t know why, she don’t know why

Dog and butterfly

I never understood the song, but I loved it when I heard it.  In the song, I always placed myself in the role of the dog, chasing a butterfly over a grassy land mass, leaping in the air and falling, the territory under my feet changing as I run and not really noticing it, my dreams, my loves, my  life always seemingly out of grasp  My response after failing was usually something more than a chuckle or two.
It usually meant a lot of self-reflection and down time for me — a time of crying until I had no tears left to shed; a time where bad stuff happened in my heart, a time where I judged myself as not-enough, worthless, stupid and ugly.

It seemed as if by the time I reached my later teen years that I would never have anything that I wanted and I began to get settled into the idea that I should just be happy with what I had and leave the damn
butterflies alone.  I would never get the things I wanted and I just needed to get used to the idea.  That butterfly was just a tease — never attainable, always dancing in my head and just out of my grasp.

Well I stumbled upon your secret place

Safe in the trees you had tears on your face

Wrestling with your desires frozen strangers

Stealing your fires. The message hit my mind

Only words that I could find

See the dog and butterfly

Up in the air he like to fly

Dog and butterfly below she had to try

She roll back down to the warm soft ground

Laughing to the sky, up to the sky

Dog and butterfly

It was eternity set in my heart, and eternity never happens to losers like me.  So by the age of 16, I had already decided that I was not going to live beyond the age of 18.  I had become an overly aggressive, angry youth that realized that fighting and death were the only things within his grasp.  I had multiple people in my life that I conflicted with, some were dangerous, and I had plans to literally kill one of them.

Then something happened

A pretty blond girl asked me to go with her to church.  She saw me. I had been invisible and I liked it that way, but I never imagined that she would chat me up.  I was definitely not the kind of person I
normally saw her talking to.  But, she did ask me.  She was a butterfly.  I knew she was, but for some reason I thought maybe this time I could catch her — maybe if I leapt extra hard?  Who was I kidding, at 16, I was already too tired to go chasing after another.  See, that eternity was calling after me again, and I was a fool.  I actually listened.

Years later finds me celebrating my 18th birthday and wondering how it happened. Jesus was now in my heart and he had pulled me through past my 18th birthday. I never killed the kid and as it turns out we somehow made amends.  I was happier and hopeful for the future.  The blond girl as it turned out
was in fact a butterfly.  She was just a tease for Jesus.  I never got to catch her.

So if Sherry was the butterfly that took me to Jesus, then Anita was the one who made me stay.  She
was another pretty butterfly (brunette) dancing in the sky, pulling me deeper and deeper into the world of Christianity and church and youth group and everything else, never promising me anything.
I chased that butterfly for far too long only to continue falling down on my ass hard.

Fast-forward a bit, I am 19 years old, and I work with this guy named Tony.  I don’t like him very much because he is a bit of a show-off, but he is asking me to go home with him for some pizza and beer.  No one ever really chooses to hang out with me in an informal setting so I decided to see where this was going to go.  I had no real friends.  Even Jesus could not manage to firm up any real friendships for me. So I chased after yet another elusive winged creature – friendship.

But this butterfly, led me again to different territory.  It was there in Tony’s apartment that I would meet my true heartsong. She wasn’t supposed to be there. She was his neighbor and had come into the apartment due to an impromptu invitation from Tony.  She was with her sister and I could not take my eyes off of her. Yet, I was very good about not letting her know I was looking.  I did not say a word to her that night except maybe hello.  Why should I?  She was too beautiful.  She was just another one of those elusive colorful things that was there to make me give chase only to never actually grasp anything good.  I was sore from falling down.

It took Tony two solid weeks to convince me that she wanted me to call her and ask her out.  Tammy
would eventually be my wife.  As it turned out she was not a butterfly, she was the new territory that I
encountered while chasing after eternity. She is still with me after 25 years of marriage and my heart still sings every time I look at her and see her smile.

Looking back now I realize that the butterfly again is this part of god that pulls us along, even when we think we are dead and can’t possibly move.  It dances in our peripheral saying “catch me if you can” all the while moving us closer and closer to God’s good and perfect will – his eternity set upon our heart — telling us again and again that we are good, that we are worth it, that god considers us key players
and that god cares about us immensely and never gives up on us, even when wehave given up on ourselves.

“We’re getting older the world’s getting colder

For the life of me I don’t know the reason why

Maybe it’s livin’ making us give in

Hearts rolling in taken back on the tide

We’re balanced together ocean upon the sky”

Joy Wilson’s word, was a butterfly fluttering around above me telling me “come along.”  “Come and be
blessed.”  Silly ole’ me leapt in the air as much as one my age can leap after this thing called blessing.  I drove my car and spent some money and leapt after the Outlaw Preacher’s (Re)Union 2011. And silly ole’ me fell to the ground in pursuit of blessing, but this time laughing and realizing for sure that the terrain has changed once again –  this is a different place that God has led me.  This is good.

Sometimes when you are pursuing a butterfly and it just seems like you ought to have this one, stop, look around you, see where you have gone and realize that maybe, just maybe you were never supposed to have it, maybe what you are supposed to have is right in front of your face, and you can’t see it because you have been leaping after the unattainable for so long.  Two days into the reunion, I sang:

Another night in this strange town

Moonlight holding me light as down

Voice of confusion inside of me

Just begging to go back where I’m free

Feels like I’m through

Then the old man’s words are true

See the dog and butterfly

Up in the air he like to fly

Dog and butterfly, below she had to try

She roll back down to the warm soft

Ground with a little tear in her eye

She had to try, she had to try

Dog and Butterfly


About the Author:

John Martinez is copastor of The Distillery Church in Albany, NY. He is married to Tammy (his heartsong) and has three grown children (Ashley, Johnathon, and James), and two grand children (Vincent and Dante). His blog site is called Indiefaith @

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