- A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function;
- Biology – the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly,
A white butterfly danced across my path the other day. As record warm temperatures bathe our city, nature is changing and blooming early this year.
Like nature all around us, we yearn for change and aspire to fullness of life. I know I do. Metamorphosis, is radical change and it represents the possibility within each of us for new beginnings. Real change always starts within, but it affects everything else once it truly happens.
Like the caterpillar, the human soul is born with a capacity for something as radical as transformation to a butterfly. I imagine as a caterpillar it must be hard to believe that such complete reordering of life is possible. But the caterpillar doesn’t question, rather it follows the instincts of nature. It eats and eats and then wraps itself in a leaf with a mile of silk forming a cocoon. Now, “the caterpillar begins releasing enzymes that literally digest nearly all of its own body. What’s left inside the chrysalis is mostly just a very nutrient rich soup from which the butterfly will begin to form.” Amazing!
In the spiritual experience the inner working of divine grace, along with the compliance of the human will to God’s, makes change possible. We are not meant to remain earth-bound among the crawling creatures forever. Jesus, uses the image of the new birth to show that those who receive him are reborn,
“ not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13
“A man is raised from the earth by two wings,” says Kempis, “simplicity and purity.” Purity is like simplicity and together they are the pathway to inner life change. The best kinds of peanut butter, in my view are the kinds with just one simple ingredient, peanuts. The opposite of purity is to be double minded and to love many varied and changing things. The pure of heart aspires above everything to be in union with the one eternal good that never changes, God.
Where there is impurity there is complexity and a lack of clarity. One of the inconveniences of ageing is the loss of clear eyesight, not to mention forgetting where you put your glasses. It can be frustrating not being able to read the label on a can or jar of peanut butter. How much more frustrating it is to be unaware of the spiritual realities within and around us. Jesus linked purity with clarity when he said, “Blessed are the pure on heart for they shall see God.” Matt 5:8. When he spoke in parables, Jesus understood that people were unable to comprehend the direct impact of divine light. It is easier for us to see the stars and the moon than the sun, because the intensity of the sun would blind us. “Oh that we had ears to hear and eyes to see,” cried the prophets. Impurity in our souls is like cataracts on our eyes. Spiritual realities seem preposterous to our blind carnal minds.
It seems that one of God’s preferred methods for removing impurities from our hearts is the fire of suffering. Like gold that is refined by fire, so our faith is tested and purified by trials of various kinds. We are in need of patience and endurance in all our earthly difficulties.
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4
The painful experience of metamorphosis is the necessary price of becoming a butterfly. But oh how wonderful it is for those who attain it. Through death and resurrection, we are becoming butterflies.