Caterpillars and Butterflies

Ever tried to look for a caterpillar under milkweed? You have to look at the right time. You have to have patience in your pocket too. When I was teaching first grade, I brought in a caterpillar for observation.  In a fishbowl covered in some netting , we watched that guy munch, crawl, munch, crawl, you know- it’s a very hungry caterpillar. No, we didn’t give him ice cream, sausage, or a cupcake. Eric Carl told us that would give him a tummy ache. ( You have to be a teacher to understand) Plus, a nice green leaf was readily available each day.  After a forever time, ( to the kids mostly) we noticed that the caterpillar that was once munching on a green milkweed leaf, was now hidden in a gold beaded sack. It was only a matter of tallies before the big switcheroo. We tallied the number of days it took for the caterpillar to switch to a butterfly- a math and science integration. The day it happened it was like Christmas morning.  The kids excitement was out of control. It was a miracle. I myself was blinking my eyes to make sure I had the correct visual. My eyes weren’t seeing things. The monarch burst out all orange, black, a little white, and wet. Teachable moment right then had cancelled all other lesson plans.

My flower garden with reds, oranges, pinks, has been an attraction for the butterflies. It’s not like its a mini rainforest mind you. We don’t  see the brilliant blue morpho butterfly. We see the brilliant white moth, some monarchs, some kind of yellow one, – enough to intrigue both kids. The minute one is noticed, there is an announcement-“Hey look at that beautiful butterfly!” There is the chase. It’s kind of like the butterfly initiates a game of tag. The kids know no boundaries when chasing a butterfly. There is the observation when it finally rests on one of the flowers. It is then that they can describe this butterfly and differentiate between that one. Butterflies are a kid fascination in this household.

My Goldi is a butterfly wanna be. She longs to be noticed, colorful, admired, and flying high. Don’t we all? Lately, I have noticed how she has become the “social butterfly”. She has been bravely right in the middle of people conversation and activity here in the neighborhood. She has conversed with neighbors even when they are not really open to talk. She lures them in with her questions and exclamations. She introduces us to new friends that arrive.  My Congressman boy at times, thinks he is already a butterfly. He’s pretty confident, knows the ropes of things, and shines all on his own. But both kids and everyone needs to do the work of the caterpillar first. Us caterpillars have some serious munching to do. Munching on green leaves – we feel so much better when we do that. Just like the Very Hungry Caterpillar did. So for both kids, for me, and for you, do “healthy green leaf” things- read, play, learn, listen, and be careful. This is all important for being a butterfly- even one who simply flits from flower to flower.  If you want to be a big beautiful butterfly bursting with new life and hope- well you’ve got some serious caterpillar work to do.  Get into the Word, rely on your Creator, focus on the “fly high things” of life.

If you know your symbols, you would know that the butterfly is actually a symbol of the resurrection. New life- the switcheroo inside the chrysalis is a lesson in the hope to come. Here on this earth, hope could mean potential – dreams that come true, amazing things happening, . Hope later … well too much “Christmas”  “Easter” for our caterpillar brains. Think of all the time you said “no more!” upon some serious frustration and consider it done! Think of the last time you experienced paradise and consider that to be everlasting. Pretty amazing stuff upon some pondering.

So here we are all caterpillars. It doesn’t matter who you are. We are all working out our time until we are a butterfly. We may have butterfly moments of flying high and being colorful, and those ultimate butterfly moments takes us all the way to  Mexico. That is where all butterflies that hatch go. They fly all the way to Mexico.  Mexico could literally be your paradise or it could be those moments when a kid feels grown up. It could be the moment when success has been experienced. It could be the moment you were rewarded with something after some serious work. But a real resurrected butterfly will reach an even higher paradise than Mexico. All we have to do is to the work of the caterpillar until one day we curl up in our chrysalis and burst out a big, beautiful, butterfly!


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