Most people would agree that butterflies are beautiful creatures. It may even seem that their primary purpose is to give us the pleasure of enjoying the magnificence of nature in the delicacy of their beauty.
However, a deeper look reveals the incredible struggles these whispering, winged creations go through to live fully. The life cycle of the butterfly represents complete metamorphosis at its best.
A metamorphosis is a change of the form or nature of a thing or person to something completely different, by natural or supernatural means. Although we go through many transitions in our lives, they are not always as outwardly apparent as that of the butterfly. There is the obvious transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, but there are actually four stages of butterfly life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
As with our life changes, each stage in a butterfly’s life has a different purpose, and each stage is necessary to complete the move to the next and the next and the next.
Stage one is the egg. The most incredible thing about the egg is how transparent it can be. A very close look into the egg reveals a tiny larva growing inside. A very close look at your life may reveal something beautifully and subtly growing inside.
From the egg emerges the caterpillar. The primary action of the caterpillar is eating. This is the stage when we first see what will become the delicate, winged creature, but in a form that is very different from what will be.
Most people never take the time to observe a caterpillar very closely. We are in such a rush to get to whatever comes next that we are likely to miss what is not obvious without deep observance. When we slow down and truly observe, we can see how focused on their eating they actually are.
Amazingly, the initial birthing ground becomes the feeding ground. The caterpillar is unable to travel to new plants. The eggs are laid on the very plant that sustains them after the transformation.
As with our spiritual growth and our own transformation, initially the caterpillar is extremely tiny and its growth appears slow and small. Yet as if by magic, it enjoys an incredible spurt of growth, as does our divine expansion. Their outer skin does not stretch, but rather they grow by molting and shedding the outgrown skin. This occurs several times.
It’s the same with our lives. We shed our old “skins,” including outdated beliefs and actions, but we may not notice how big these changes are until all at once it appears as if one big shift has occurred, when in reality many small changes took place.
Next is the pupa or chrysalis stage. This is the stage of protection. When the caterpillar is done growing, it forms a protective cocoon around itself. Even more growth occurs that is not visible to the naked eye, but is essential to the full development of the butterfly.
There is a lot of change taking place and an incredible transformation is happening while the creature is calm and quiet. The old caterpillar body parts change into the beautiful parts of the butterfly. Everything has changed as the butterfly is ready to emerge.
Spread Your Wings
The final stage is underway and the adult butterfly begins to emerge. At first it looks as if the wings are not functional, but with rest, blood moves into the wings and the butterfly is ready to take flight.
The natural process is such that if it is interrupted or if someone interferes to try to make the process easier on the butterfly, it will not fully form and will likely not be able to live fully in its intended beauty.
A Simple (Not Always Easy) Process
Our process of emerging into our full selves is similar. If we try to bypass any stage of growth and avoid the inevitable struggles or the need for quiet times, we will not become our full selves. This is where things can get tricky.
There are those experiences that are inevitable and those we create based on our addictions to chaos and drama. In some cases there is a very thin veil between what occurs naturally and what we create.
As we grow and emerge as our fully-developed selves, we are able to distinguish between the two. We are also able to more fully accept life’s struggles as part of the process.
This doesn’t mean it will always be easy or to our liking. There will be times when the changes thrust upon us are difficult at best. We may find ourselves resisting change and wishing things were different, until we recognize that the only differences needed are in our focus, attitude, and level of acceptance.
Getting to this understanding is one of the most freeing experiences we can have. It is in resisting this understanding that we are not able to fully respond to that which life puts in our path. It took me quite some time to understand this to the core of my being.
When I began making huge changes in my life, like giving up excessive drinking, I truly believed that if I cleaned up my act, bad things would quit happening. What I failed to understand was that what had taken years to create would not change in a moment. The change would happen a step at a time.
Whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, allow it to happen at the right pace, in the right space. Avoid rushing the process, but also be willing to do the work, both internal and external, that is required.
The more willing you are to make the change, coupled with appropriate mindset, action and consistency makes all the difference in the world.