I am still amazed at what so quickly took place in the milkweed filled terrarium on my dining table. The two week old, two-inch-long caterpillar grew 2,000 times the size she was upon hatching from her egg. If an average human baby weighing eight pounds were to have this type of growth, it would be nearly eight miles tall and weigh in at eight tons after only two weeks! It is hard to imagine such rapid growth in so short of a time period. It is due to the butterfly's nutritious diet. Remember: you are what you eat!
The enlarged caterpillar left the only home it had ever known, the leafy-green milkweed, and found a safe place to pupate. My caterpillar chose the very rim of the terrarium. With maturity, came change.
The caterpillar secured itself hanging upside down in a J-shape and underwent its final instar, the shedding of its skin for the very last time. During this transformation, she wriggled out of her tight striped skin dropping it crumpled onto the terrarium floor revealing a strange new type of skin. This all new, pale, shiny green skin hardened and become the caterpillar's new home for the last couple of weeks. The caterpillar was safely enclosed in the quiet where miraculously some big changes occurred.
Astonishingly, the caterpillar did not simply sprout wings and grow longer legs. Instead, the entire being of the caterpillar almost completely dissolved, making a protein soup of sorts. From this, the developing Monarch butterfly was crafted.
Remember those imaginal discs discussed in the first blog post? The microscopic cells that shape and form the new creation? They began to vibrate at certain frequencies and merge together to create the new creature with all of its needed bits and pieces from the very essence of the caterpillar itself.
Beautifully, if the caterpillar had any brokenness or imperfections, a missing leg or crushed antini due to bumps and bruises received in the world, within the safety of her quiet place, she was completely regenerated during this metamorphic process.
God longs for us to be transformed like the caterpillar. Romans 12:2 states this: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
We can be transformed into the creature we were always intended to be, one that resembles our heavenly butterfly parent, if, by His grace, we are willing to renew our minds to God’s truths.
The best way that I have found to do this is through the process of “Cocooning”. (Technically, a butterfly makes a chrysalis, not a soft, spun silk cocoon, but “chrysalising” is just too hard to say!) How do we as humans do it?
Like the caterpillar we need to find a safe place of quiet, one in which we can be with God undisturbed. We take our self and His word, which speaks life and renewing truth to us. We sit with Him and prayerfully ask Him to speak to us through it and we offer Him our entire selves to be transformed.
We can journal during this time, writing our thoughts and prayers to God in response to what He has spoken to us. Or, we can just sit in the quiet, basking in God's light and love.
And, like the caterpillar, it is in this time of quiet, connecting with God, that He heals us of our woundedness. He regenerates and restores us. He loves us with the gaze of the Beloved. He gives us new wings on which we can soar.
Pope Francis in his commentary on Matthew 9:9-13 states this about the transforming gaze of Jesus: “Jesus stopped; he did not quickly turn away. He looked at Matthew calmly, peacefully. He looked at him with eyes of mercy; he looked at him as no one had ever looked at him before. And that look unlocked Matthew’s heart; it set him free, it healed him, it gave him hope, a new life…”
According to Fr. Jacques Philippe, “To let Jesus look at us: it is the most important thing in our life.”
Our time of “cocooning,” of gazing, should be given priority in our schedule, as it is of utmost importance. Transformation can happen quickly or it can take time...but who doesn’t want to be a butterfly and resemble He who made us and sees us as God imagined us to be?
Here’s a challenge. Take just one week, and decide that each day (morning is best) you will meet with God for just 10 minutes, reading His word and allowing His gaze of love to transform and renew you. See if after just seven days, your life is not more peaceful and joy filled.
Why? Because you, like the Monarch caterpillar, were Born to Soar!
“...that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,... and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” Ephesians 4:22-24
I want to be renewed! I want to be the amazing person that you envisioned when You created me. But I confess, I am tired! I need Your grace and help to inspire me to make time to “cocoon” with You. I am asking now that You give me this longing in my heart, and the ability to follow through with this urging. I know that meeting with You and allowing You to gaze at me and me at You will be the most important thing I can ever learn to do. Lord, help me. Wake me up early. Surprise me with moments of free time in which I choose to meet with You and allow You... to transform me.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.