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Friday, April 2, 2010

Simply Live


I would never have recognized it, had I been expecting its former shape. Appearing lifeless, it hung there, suspended, shrouded, bearing absolutely no resemblance to what it had been before. But I knew the promise it held, so I carried it home for safekeeping.

During the passing weeks, I observed it carefully, hoping against hope that I would be present for the big event. I’d never actually seen one in person, only on television or on the glossy pages of a magazine.

When the predetermined time had passed, I was indeed privileged. First, the slow splitting open; Then, the silent emergence. It carefully withdrew one - then another and another - until all 6 rested securely atop the dangling shell. Then, braced & balanced, it slowly pulled the rest of itself out. How ragged it looked - all folded up & compressed - not at all yet the image of what it was to become. It appeared to rest, but silently shuddered - with anxious anticipation or from the pure effort of pumping itself into its full, final shape. I resisted any urge to touch it, for it was not yet ready.

Just what does a caterpillar think as it eats its way through its green world? Does it have any idea at all of what lies ahead for it? The fortunate ones - those not plucked off by some hungry bird, nor eliminated by an overanxious gardener, nor demolished from inside by parasites - have a transformation ahead that is difficult to imagine. I wonder if, deep, down inside their tiny brains, they quake in fear of the changes ahead. There will be the end of their gnawing, the slowing down, the searching for the perfect spot to attach and encase themselves. Then the months of waiting - the miraculous metamorphosis - as their bodies change into something entirely different.

There it sat fully formed, unfolded and spread into a gorgeous yellow and black shape. It nimbly climbed to the top of its branch, wings wide open then slowly closing and reopening , to survey the world through new eyes. Slowly I put forth a finger, gently urged it to climb on and lifted it high in the air to watch as it took off. I held my breath as it fluttered across the open expanse, wishing desperately for its safe, secluded landing beyond notice of those who would prey upon it. For it was, after all, only one small butterfly in the larger scheme of life.

And what of the caterpillar? Was not the progression of its life determined in the beginning? I think, perhaps, it spends its allotted days simply living. It does what it must, slowly crawling day by day toward its destiny - toward confinement, transformation - and glorious release.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed...But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 & 57

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