I have been fond of butterflies for many years now. I admire their beauty with various colors and designs, I marvel at the quiet way they move and float and dance along in nature, and I hold a special connection to them because both my grandmothers liked them. But, I think I also admire their courage and willingness to change. One of nature’s way of providing an example of God encouraging each of us to growth, even in the struggle and then new life. At my wedding we even released butterflies in the church’s courtyard instead of throwing rice or blowing bubbles; there was a connection to be inspired to be who God calls us to be even when that requires change. For several years, my children each spring have received a science experiment where they get larva, which become caterpillars and we watch them form cocoons and then wait, patiently and excitedly as they emerge from the cocoon a butterfly. To release them outside to be free always brings moments of joy.
For me, part of the fascination with butterflies is the change … to begin as a caterpillar and emerge this beautiful butterfly is a sign of hope; a sign of living fully into to who God designed you to be, and having the courage to work through the struggle to find the growth. Butterflies remind us that it is okay to transform ourselves. “The butterfly is only beautiful because the caterpillar is brave.” t.m.t.
A poem, entitled “The Cocoon.”
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as it if had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get though the tiny opening were God’s ways of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.
As we begin August, the sixth month of living in very different ways due to the global health pandemic, part of me want to stay in my cocoon and not bother trying to figure out how to strengthen my wings and fly. And honestly, part of me is tired from the different ways in which we engage and lonely from not being able to go to church to worship with others or see friends in person. And, I am worried about what the school year holds for my sons. But, I remind myself to take a deep breathe, be open to the new things I am adjusting too, and seek God for the ways I am called to growth in this. I remind myself to dig deep and find the courage of a caterpillar, so that I can emerge from this a butterfly.
I am trying to use some of these struggles to grow in new ways. I am growing in trying to use my time intentionally in quality phone conversations with loved ones who do not live close or deciding to do an adult coloring page for my mental health versus continuing to be on a screen. I am growing in my awareness of how God can work in amazing ways, despite my job being so different during this season. I am growing in my awareness of how much love our world needs and how everyone is searching to be seen and reminded they are a beloved child of God. I trust that this current struggle can teach me new things about myself, others, and my faith.
My prayer is that we can emerge from this current situation stronger, confident, and full of God’s love to share with others. My prayer for myself and for you is that we can allow ourselves to transform like the caterpillar to a butterfly, able to fly and share God’s love and grace with all as we emerge from the current situation we find ourselves in.
Dear Lord, Keep us calm in times of stress, and help us find quiet faith in the midst of chaos. Slow us down so we can see those moments as opportunities, and help us still our hearts to know that we have a place and a purpose that transcends the present. For this, we are thankful. Amen