Stuck in the Goo

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?  

Click here for the audio to RadioLab

Leap Year

There seems to be flowers for other holidays, so I purchased a small bouquet for my desk.  What is recommended  for Leap Year?

There seems to be flowers for other holidays, so I purchased a small bouquet for my desk.  What is recommended  for Leap Year?

Happy Leap Year! When I was a kid it seemed as if leap year was one of those notations on the calendar that was recognized and was talked about, not as anything special but rather an interesting footnote, kind of like Lincoln's Birthday.  The biggest concern was "What would you do if you had a birthday on leap year?  When did you celebrate?  More importantly, when did you get presents?"

Leap year was designed to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. Since seasons and astronomical events don't repeat in whole number days, in order to keep whole days in a calendar, an extra day is inserted every four years to keep things on track.  According to Wikipedia, "The same type of problem happens in the relationship between the day and the number of seconds in the day: If you divide the larger measure of time by the smaller, you do not get a whole number. Instead, the result is an unending decimal".  To prevent the calendar drift of half days, leap year was invented.  The "leap" comes from the fact that while a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar advances one day a week from one year to the next, in the following year of a leap year, the fixed date "leaps" over a day of the week.  For example, February 1 , 2013 fell on a Friday. The next year, 2014 it fell on a Saturday, then in 2015 it fell on a Sunday. In 2016 it fell on a Monday. Because 2016 is a "leap year"  February 1, 2017  will "leap" over Tuesday and will fall on Wednesday. 

The idea of leaping got me thinking.  What types of idioms  (or expressions) do you know which have leap in them? Here are some that I found:

"leap at a chance",  "leaps and bounds", "leap into someone's mind", "leap to conclusions", "leap at someone or something", "leap for joy", "leap forward", "leap out (of something)", "leap over", "look before you leap", "leap in the dark".

The one that I love is "leap of faith".  Two of the definitions of leap are to "propel one forward" and "to enter eagerly into an activity".  The idea that I am eagerly willing to enter into the activity that requires me to have some faith and that will propel me forward is encouraging and exciting. 

By nature I am not a risk taker.  I am a plodder and planner.  I have enough trouble leaping from rock to rock when traversing a small stream on a hike let alone leaping out on faith into a vast unknown of all the "biggies" in life- job opportunities, where to live, moving, marriage decisions, financial responsibilities of college and retirement.  Yet because they are the "biggies" I came to the conclusion long ago that there was nothing I could do to control them.  I had to have faith in something/someone bigger than myself and to believe that God's plan for me was much better than the limited one that I could foresee.  

As it is leap year, I am reminded of the times when big circumstances required me to make a leap of faith. Many times it was hard, kind of walking out onto a ledge and not seeing what is ahead or underneath you.  But I can honestly say that when I completely trusted God, I was never disappointed.  When I listened to His leading, my feet were on solid ground. 

But I am wondering if I am making the small, daily  leaps of faith?  Am I trusting God with the smaller things in my life as I trust him with the biggies?  If not, why not?  Certainly his track record is excellent.  Can I make that leap of faith that today, I am being propelled forward into an eagerly awaited activity?  Am I looking at my day with the expectation of faith- that what I am being called to do today, could be as mundane as walking the dogs, excites me because of the possibilities that await me?  Am I open to possibilities? 

 Do I trust God enough that whatever and wherever He calls me, He is faithful to provide me with what I need for the journey?   

What about you?  Have you ever had to make a leap of faith?  How did it work out?  

One thing I have noticed with my physical, rock leaping "skill" on hikes- the more I do it, the more sure-footed I become. I have noticed that the more I make those spiritual leaps of faith, the more eager I become to see what awaits me and what is on the other side.