Being Butterfly

Being Butterfly
The butterfly lays eggs.
The eggs hatch into moths.
The moths cocoon, then come out as caterpillars.
The caterpillars dissolve into a chrysalis, then emerge as butterflies.

That’s the bedtime story version approved for all ages.

Breaking out of the eggs is just that – breaking. Something goes to pieces, never to have that form again. The pieces are abandoned, their usefulness finished. Breaking requires tremendous energy, concentration, determination. Did you ever watch chicks hatch in grade school? Sometimes the breaking is not realized, and the process ends there.

Moths exist to gain strength, grow, and develop fully, in a rather short time frame. If they survive bug eating birds, back yard scientists, weather, natural disasters, manmade disasters and bug zappers, they get to cocoon. While they are under wraps, their physical bodies change from something with wings to a long, multi-sectioned creature with extra legs. That’s got to hurt. Now they must tread the earth, climb plants to survive. That’s quite a drastic change of lifestyle, one in which the moth had no say.

The caterpillars are colorful, slow moving, unwelcome in gardens and crops, poisoned regularly, and picked off by larger animals as lunch. It isn’t easy being green. Once they have munched their way to adulthood in this phase, the real fun begins. The caterpillar finds a spot it thinks is out of the way, somewhat protected. While suspended from overhead, the outer skin is ripped open (ouch!) and consumed (ick. I think I saw that movie). The bottom of this luminescent life form is cup like. The body dissolves into the cup. Hello? DISSOLVES. Turns to liquid. Totally breaks down. Then the cup part seals itself, and continues to hang there. If you opened what is now called the chrysalis, you would find caterpillar soup. Eeeeuuuw. You would also have killed the creature.

A naturalist once wrote of the joy of finding a chrysalis, and the wonder of watching the miracle unfold over several days. Finally the butterfly cut the chrysalis open. It emerged part way, then seemed to stall there. A day or so later, the butterfly was still only part way out of its former habitat. Fearing the worst, the man intervened. Carefully, trying to disturb things as little as possible, he slightly cut the chrysalis, widening the opening. He felt good about saving the beautiful creature within. The next day he was devastated to find the butterfly shriveled and dead, the chrysalis dried out. THEN he thought to consult a bug guy.

Turns out the shape shifter in the chrysalis must rest for several days from the ordeal. By widening the opening, the butterfly was exposed to elements to which it was not yet adjusted. It’s wings dried too fast on the outside, sticking together on the inside. The dried cocoon couldn’t offer protection. The man was disheartened to learn that his good intentions were fatal. Had he let nature take its course, things would have had a good chance of ending well.

All things considered, isn’t the sight of a butterfly just miraculous? To think of the ordeal they’ve survived by the time we see them in all their glory. They seem, and against other forces of nature are, so fragile. But when it was needed, Herculean strength was there.

Depending on the species, butterflies live anywhere from four days to eleven months.

There are times we all feel like we’re in some stage of a butterfly life. Things have shattered and broken, never to be restored. At times life is so overwhelming we feel like we’re wrapped up to the point of smothering. Even when we thought that flying free like a moth was great, we hit a bug zapper. Sometimes we change so slowly, we hardly notice. Other times, in the blink of an eye, our whole world is turned upside down, and us with it.

And, like the butterfly, we have found the Herculean strength to survive. Maybe even live again?

Life is short. FLY!!


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