I was asked to speak at church last Sunday. It's Lent, and the theme was, kind of, along the lines of dying to one's old 'self'.
This is what I had to say.
Early this week my Mum brought a branch of Swan plant, complete with half a dozen cute little caterpillars. They were hungry, the branch died within a day or two, but we successfully migrated the caterpillars to the huge plant on my boundary, which my neighbour has been nurturing for some months.
It fascinates me, this caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly process. But one thing that occurred to me, is that it might be interesting to look at this from the caterpillars point of view, rather than as an onlooker.
So, the caterpillar, as he grows, is compelled to eat, in fact, this is pretty much all he does...eat, and eat and eat. ideally good and healthy swan plant, but if he's desperate he'll take sugar water, or even pumpkin. he doesn't know (we assume) what's going to happen to him. but he gets fatter and fatter, then starts to build his house. he disappears inside for 2 weeks, essentially dead to the world - in fact in grave danger as wasps can easily destroy him after all this time.
Eventually, matured, he breaks from the chrysalis and is the 'beautiful butterfly'. But just for a minute, remember that this caterpillar probably doesn't know he's a butterfly. he most certainly doesn't know he's beautiful! he just gets on, doing what butterflies do, making eggs to create new caterpillars. A female butterfly can lay 1000 eggs - what a geneology. A male butterfly gets a 6 week window to fertilise those eggs, and then his number is up.
It is the people around him that get to enjoy his transformation. They get to say, wow, how amazing that something that looked like THAT now looks like THIS...and 'we thought it was a cute caterpillar, but how much more attractive he is as a butterfly - or even how DIFFERENT does this creature look!
my message is this - the process of transformation can be slow, it might mean stuffing ourselves full of things we love until we can't even move...
it could mean having to endure things we don't like that much, or aren't that good for us.
it might be a wonderful experience that we get to see and feel. but it might happen outside of our control and senses.
it might mean hibernating for a while.
we might go through that transformation and out the other side and not even notice it ourselves - it is the onlooker that can see the difference between the then and the now.
In fact, there's a good chance we really won't know how much we've changed!
it is our job to listen to our instincts, do the things we feel driven to do, and in that process, we might, we just might, avoid the wasps and become a butterfly.