The two week old, two-inch-long caterpillar is now 2,000 times the size she was upon hatching. If an average human baby weighing eight pounds were to have this type of growth, it would be nearly eight miles tall and weigh in at eight tons after only two weeks! It is hard to imagine such rapid growth in so short of a time period! It is due to the butterfly's nutritious diet. Remember: you are what you eat!
The enlarged caterpillar will now leave the only home it has ever known to find a safe place to pupate. With maturity, will come change. The caterpillar will secure itself hanging upside down in a J-shape and go through its final instar, the shedding of its skin for the very last time.
Only this time, a strange new type of skin is revealed, one that will harden and become the caterpillar's new home for the next couple of weeks. The caterpillar is now safely enclosed in the quiet where miraculously some big changes will occur.
Astonishingly, the caterpillar does not simply sprout wings and grow longer legs. Instead, the entire being of the caterpillar will be almost completely dissolved, making a protein soup of sorts. From this, the developing Monarch butterfly will be crafted.
Remember those imaginal discs discussed earlier? The microscopic cells that will shape and form the new creation? They begin to vibrate at certain frequencies and merge together to create the new creature with all of its needed bits and pieces from the very essence of the caterpillar itself.
Beautifully, if the caterpillar had any brokenness or imperfections, a missing leg or crushed antini due to bumps and bruises received in the world, within the safety of her quiet place, she is completely regenerated during this metamorphic process.
God longs for us to be transformed like the caterpillar. Romans 12:2 states this: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
We can be transformed into the creature we were always intended to be, one that resembles our heavenly butterfly parent, if, by His grace, we are willing to renew our minds to God’s truths.
The best way that I have found to do this is through the process of “Cocooning”. (Technically, a butterfly makes a chrysalis, not a soft, spun silk cocoon, but “chrysalising” is just too hard to say!) How do we as humans do it?
Like the caterpillar we need to find a safe place of quiet, one in which we can be with God undisturbed. We take our self and His word, which speaks life and renewing truth to us. We sit with Him and prayerfully ask Him to speak to us through it and we offer Him our entire selves to be transformed.
We can journal during this time, writing our thoughts and prayers to God in response to what He has spoken to us. Or, we can just sit in the quiet, basking in God's light and love.
And, like the caterpillar, it is in this time of quiet, connecting with God, that He heals us of our woundedness. He regenerates and restores us. He loves us with the gaze of the Beloved. He gives us new wings on which we can soar.
Pope Francis in his commentary on Matthew 9:9-13 states this about the transforming gaze of Jesus: “Jesus stopped; he did not quickly turn away. He looked at Matthew calmly, peacefully. He looked at him with eyes of mercy; he looked at him as no one had ever looked at him before. And that look unlocked Matthew’s heart; it set him free, it healed him, it gave him hope, a new life…”
According to Fr. Jacques Philippe, “To let Jesus look at us: it is the most important thing in our life.”
Our time of “cocooning,” of gazing, should be given priority in our schedule, as it is of utmost importance. Transformation can happen quickly or it can take time...but who doesn’t want to be a butterfly and resemble He who made us and sees us as God imagined us to be?
Here’s a challenge. Take just one week, and decide that each day (morning is best) you will meet with God for just 10 minutes, reading His word and allowing His gaze of love to transform and renew you. See if after just seven days, your life is not more peaceful and joy filled. Why? Because you, like the Monarch caterpillar, were Born to Soar!
This is part three of a six-part series. Read the full series here: