Friday, June 8, 2012


William's "big" birthday present this year was really something for all of us to experience - a butterfly house and the caterpillars to go with it. I have wanted to raise butterflies ever since we did so as a class in first grade. There are few school experiences that I remember so clearly as our classroom box of caterpillars, and setting the resulting butterflies free in the woods at the edge of the school lawn.

It was just as thrilling 22 years later.  My caterpillars came from here, though I ordered the first round from amazon and the caterpillars arrived... well... very much not alive. So I returned them and ordered directly from the Insect Lore website and this time all five caterpillars were quite well, despite a few hours in the hot mailbox before we got home to rescue them.

They crawled around and munched their little green food goo and grew and grew for a few days before they spun into their chrysalises. And seriously, I have to find me a grown-up book on butterfly metamorphosis, because even after watching it happen, I am still incredulous. One moment the caterpillars are just hanging there, the next they are all encased in their little shell. Crazy. And there were two who couldn't seem to make it to the top of the jar, and I thought they had just given up and died on the bottom of the jar, but incredibly they too formed their chrysalises.

And then just over a week after that first transformation, they crawled out one at a time, over a 24 hour period, and poof... five beautiful Painted Lady butterflies.

I had planned to "keep" them for a few days, but once the cats noticed them it quickly became clear that these would not do as pets, so we set them free later that day.  Two flew far, far away right away, two took their time and dawdled around the garden, and one was a little gimpy and posed for some pictures.  The kids were delighted, as were my mom and I.

And if I can get all deep for a minute: watching this whole process unfold had some serious implications for my faith.  Now, I am sure I am not the first one to notice this analogy, so bear with me.  Those silly little caterpillars, just crawling around and eating, doing their pre-programmed little job here on earth.  Then for reasons that they surely do not understand they are paralyzed, upside down, and wrapped up in their own hard skin.  For a week they do not move or eat or drink.  Do they think?  Do they wonder what is happening?  Does the caterpillar who got caught in his own silk and trapped in the goo think he has failed?  Does he think he will die? And yet, all during this week of immobile solitude every cell in their body is being transformed, until suddenly they are told "it is time" and they crawl out of their little tombs to discover that they are no longer earth-bound caterpillars - they have WINGS and can FLY.  What a world is available to them now!

I really think God made butterflies to show us exactly what He has in store for us.  We are only caterpillars right now.  Happy caterpillars, but caterpillars just the same.  Wow.


  1. There is a quote that I love and hangs on the wall of my apartment: "If nothing changed, there'd be no butterflies." ~Walt Disney