Monday, September 30, 2013

How bad do you want to be a butterfly?

How did it get to be Monday so soon??? Gosh, the weekend just flew by! The weather was spectacular this weekend here in northern Michigan; a true taste of Indian summer with temps in the mid to high 70’s and absolutely clear, blue skies by day and a soft gentle rain on Saturday night. Really, perfect weather, but likely the beginning of the end of the warm, summer weather as we transition into autumn and winter.


My pool is officially emptied and down and just waiting to dry completely before being put away for the winter. It’s only an 16 foot round pool that is about 3.5 deep, but it sure provides me with a tremendous amount of joy each summer. It’s kind of sad to see the empty spot where it once stood and know that it won’t be much longer and snow will cover that spot. But…spring will come again and in the meantime, the trees are just bursting forth with radiant color!  Not peaked yet, but the reds and oranges of the maples are spectacular right now. Hopefully, I’ll get to go on a color-tour drive next weekend. The next few weekends will involve getting the perennial gardens ready for bed and storing the patio furniture for the winter.  It sure is good to be able to do those things again, even if it means winter is knocking on the door.


While working outside this weekend, I noticed an abundance of fuzzy caterpillars all over the yard. I’m guessing there may be a slight increase in their numbers this year due to all the additional gardens I planted all summer to provide food for the butterflies and moths, but I’m also surmising that I’m just noticing them now that I’m physically able to be ‘out and about’ in the yard.  In any case, they are very cool.  It’s ironic that our group member Becca posted the picture to the site earlier today showing the caterpillar and butterfly image because I’ve been thinking about that concept for the past couple of days now.


The majority of the caterpillars I found were the brown and orange fuzzy ones. They don’t turn into a butterfly, but rather the Isabella wooly moth. Many of the others turn into butterflies, but nonetheless, the whole process of metamorphosis is quite an amazing one. We could learn much from the life-cycle of a moth/butterfly to apply to our day-to-day journey of change.  When I was teaching youngsters many years ago, I often told the story of the boy who found a caterpillar and put it in the jar. He took care of it and watched it spin into a cocoon. One day, he noticed that the butterfly was trying to come of the cocoon, but it was struggling so much that the boy cut a hole in the cocoon to help the butterfly escape. It was easier for the butterfly to get out, but it died shortly afterward because its body was wet and swollen and it couldn’t fly. The moral of the story is that the butterfly NEEDED to struggle and work through the process, because that struggle and difficult period of change, forced the fluid out of the butterfly, enabling it to fly.  Here is a link to the whole story if you’d like more of the details:


On this journey that we call life, we often go from flying like a buttefly/moth to crawling for a period like a caterpillar to intense periods of “isolation, dormancy, emptiness, darkness where we seem to be just ‘standing still’ or even worst…lifeless (not physically dead, but emotionally/mentally/spiritually” only to work/struggle through that so that we can “fly and be free” again. Unlike the moths/butterflies in nature, we don’t go through this just once and then die, but rather over and over and over again.  Sometimes the periods of flight/freedom/happiness last longer than the “aloneness/difficulties/trials”; sometimes the struggle to find our way out of the darkness/pain are harder than others; sometimes we never ever have the courage to TRY to fly because we might fail or think we don’t deserve it, so we just stay ‘confined to our own cocoon” because it’s safer there and we “know how to live that way”. Sometimes we just “die” there….because we are too afraid to make the necessary changes and leave the past behind. Wherever we are……whatever our journey…..whatever our struggles…’s important to realize that none of those stages are ever “permanent” and we must, at times, go through the ups and downs of life.  BUT…..we get stronger each time we go through those changes and if we make truly life-altering changes, the periods of caterpillar/cocoon don’t last very long…BECAUSE WE KNOW HOW to fly and we can get back to that stage quicker. 


Unless you are a science major, most of us don’t know what type of butterfly/moth will emerge from any caterpillar of cocoon we might come across, but we know that if all the elements are right, it will one day fly. The same is true for us; most of the time we don’t know what “good” will come out of those crawling/isolation/struggling times we encounter, but if we have faith, we know that WE WILL come out of it and WE WILL one day fly, either for the first time or AGAIN!  We can…and WE WILL….change OUR OWN LIVES….just like those silly caterpillars will change theirs.  It’s just a process.  Just don’t give up! Ask yourself:  how bad to you want to fly?  Are you willing to go through the changes?  I AM!