Do you ever wonder what happens to the caterpillar in the chrysalis? How does it become a butterfly? What happens when it metamorphoses? I heard an interesting audio from the show RadioLab. It discussed just that as well as the philosophical implications and the common metaphor of caterpillar/butterfly to old/new life.
What I find interesting is that at first look, there appears to be nothing from the first form to the second. How can a plodding, crawling, insect be the same as a graceful, flying winged creature?
When they open the chrysalis what they find is goo. Nothing formed, nothing recognizable. Yet when they have dissected caterpillars, they can see structures that will form wings. Amazing.
There is something new in the old, some hope and expectation yet it is not visible at first. Perhaps there is hope for humankind and for each one of us.
While we may not be our "perfect" selves and we are always a work in progress; nonetheless, we do have potential to be the butterfly that we were created to be. In some ways we are both caterpillar and butterfly.
Though in my experience, being caterpillar and butterfly is not a linear caterpillar-chrysalis-butterfly process. It is not as if once I go through the change, that is it- I stay as a perfect butterfly. Sometimes I am the caterpillar, munching away in my own selfishness. Other times I have been changed into a butterfly and have the experience of growth, new habits and a feeling of new life. Yet my experience is short-lived and fleeting. Life has a way of circling back.
Just as soon as I may feel that I have finally "gotten it", experienced a situation without jealousy, anger, impatience, etc.- you name the poor behavior that I have avoided, then I resort back to my old self. I may be floating like a butterfly but before I know it, I am stuck on the ground, mired down with my selfish ways. It seems as if I will keep going through the process until one day I am finally, totally transformed into the creature that was contained, albeit snippets, even while a caterpillar.
What I am learning about the caterpillar/butterfly metaphor is that chrysalis means preparatory or transitional state. In the life of the insect, the chrysalis stage is about the same amount of time it is a caterpillar. Which means it is a necessary stage and which means that I have to go through it and cannot shorten it if I want to come out a butterfly.
In my "life cycle" I come to places where I "think" I know what type of butterfly I should be. I am quite ready to vocalize my thoughts and plans to God. I "know" what is the best for me and just want Him to get on with any metamorphoses He has planned for me. I am "thinking" that I will be a Monarch butterfly. And so, I just want to get to that stage. I truthfully don't want to go through goo. I don't want to be in the place where I am unrecognizable and all preconceived ideas are eliminated. I don't want to live in this vulnerable stage. I want to snap my fingers and get to the place, the attitude, the changed behavior without any inconvenience or messiness.
There comes a time when I am choosing to accept the transitional stage, when I am choosing to accept being "goo" and when I am preparing my heart and mind to be the person God has originally designed me to be. It requires me to be open to new possibilities, to change some old habits and ways, to listen to His voice and to be willing to be vulnerable in the transitional stage. It requires me to enter this transitional stage trusting that the butterfly I am becoming is exactly the right butterfly that He wants. No use trying to be a Monarch butterfly if I am a moth.
What about you? Ever thought about the caterpillar/butterfly mystery? Which stage are you in? Are you willing to go through the goo? How open are you to change?