A while back, I had the real pleasure of attending a wonderful yoga event in Akron, OH called Elevate Akron.
It was a wonderful time spent with friends and nearly 3,000 other yogis, full of joyous energy, great music, and so many other fun things! I treated myself to some great chicken tacos, a few beers, and a beautiful henna tattoo.
While we were flowing, though, our teacher and leader of the class, Tracy, was fleshing out this idea of the transformation of the butterfly.
And, okay. That sounds a little predictable, I know. Yogis and a nature theme, the obvious growth of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Like, yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. But, no.
Tracy didn’t leave it on the surface, only treating it like it was this pretty little thing that happens. She didn’t shy away from the grotesque, ugly side of growth. She didn’t shy away from the death required for transformation to happen.
You see, when a caterpillar cocoons, it doesn’t just *poof* turn into this beautiful butterfly like magic. It’s doesnt just happen instantly.
No, the caterpillar is basically liquified in that cocoon. It turns into goo. GOO, guys. It disolves.
It’s ugly. It’s probably not comfortble. It might even hurt.
But okay. Hold on. There’s more.
Inside the gooey remains of the caterpillar, the wings of the butterfly are already present. So the beautiful thing that this caterpillar is going to transform into existed inside of it the whole time!
But think about it… in order for those things – those beautiful wings – to make it to the outisde world, the caterpillar shell of this insect had to basically be put to death. The lovely beauty of this thing is waiting to be revealed, but first, the caterpillar must subject itself to absolute destruction.
More than that – and here’s where it gets kind of gross for a second – that goo? The disolved parts of the caterpillar that won’t become part of the butterfly? That becomes the fuel or food source for the butterfly in the cocoon.
HEAR ME. The parts of the caterpillar put to death in this transformation process become the fuel by which the butterfly is born. It is through the death of these things that new life is cultivated and grown. The butterfly literally feasts on these dead parts and uses it to propel it further into beauty.
It is not wallowing in sadness and pain. It’s putting that death and that goo to use. Just because it doesn’t serve the butterfly, doesnt mean it cant be useful.
But that’s not even the coolest part. There have been scientific studies that have shown that, not only are the wings present in the goo, but so is the brain of the caterpillar which becomes the brain of the butterfly. They’ve learned, through some testing with sounds and shock waves and things, that the butterfly retains memory of it’s time as a caterpillar.
The butterfly doesn’t become an entirely knew thing. It’s a new thing, for sure, but it’s also the same thing. It remembers being a caterpillar, it remembers the goo, it remembers the cocoon.
Just stopping there, its cool information. But thats not what blew my mind at Elevate. What blew my mind was how this applies to US.
Imagine for a moment that we are the caterpillars.
When the time comes for us to transform, maybe, just maybe, we need to find ourselves a cocoon. Maybe we need to make for ourselves a place of solitue and peace where we can come and be alone with God during our pruning and transformation.
In that solitude, in that growth, we can expect to become goo. We can expect that the former will pass away in order to make room – and fuel – for the new to come forth. We can expect that all that will not serve us in our transformed states – our more Christ-like states – will be put to death around us.
This will not happen over night or immediately. And we will be able to remember it all.
And as we become that butterfly – that more Christ-like version of ourselves – all of the junk that got put to death will fuel us to be more beautiful, because we’ll remember it. We’ll know where we came from.
And that will fuel our ministries and our service going forward. That will be the food on which we will feast as we serve God’s people and minster to others who are yet transforming.
And. OH. MY. GOSH. My mind is still blown.
All I can say is this: please don’t be afraid of the struggle and the pain of growth. Pruning a vine requires chopping off the dead pieces. Refining gold requires the flame. Don’t shy away.
Let that grotestque and painful season do it’s work.
And then, come forth as the butterfly. You beautiful beast, you.