Which creature in this extraordinary world begins as an earth-bound larva, crawls into a chrysalis of her own creation, dis-integrates into primordial ooze, then emerges with angel wings seemingly made of ancient parchment, rainbows and faery dust? No other living thing flutters through our collective imagination and alights on the mirrors of our psyches like Butterfly. Perhaps that’s why the early Christians choose Butterfly to symbolize the soul, and the Chinese see them as a sign of conjugal bliss and joy.
According to Buddhist teachings, one thing that makes human beings miserable in life is the false belief that nothing is supposed to change—and then, of course, almost all of it does change. Perhaps when Caterpillar is fat with leaves and feeling fine, she too grumbles at the thought of having to move into a new cocoon, resists giving up her secure foraging job that really isn’t going anywhere, or saying goodbye to the sluggish, chlorophyll-drinking pals whom she has outgrown.
Maybe she too feels depressed as she turns within her cocoon, alone and terrified that she no longer knows who or what she is. Perhaps during her darkest hour, when despair turns into a longing for death and she finally relinquishes the illusion of control and surrenders everything, surrenders herself… there is a sudden flash of light, the sensation of growing wings and a flash of hope as she glimpses a vision of the sublime and wondrous being she is destined to become!
Butterfly reminds us that we are essentially shape-shifters, that each stage of life is only a stage, and to make the best of that which is ever fleeting and fragile. The power in this realization is accepting our metamorphosis with grace and understanding, even when it is painful and chaotic. The magic is in accepting ourselves in every stage.
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