I imagine myself a caterpillar, crawling along the ground. From the day I hatched I’ve been learning my way in this world. How to maneuver my bulky body on these stubs of legs, what food gives me strength, and what my place is in the nature of things. But now I feel a force beyond myself calling me to be a butterfly. I’ve just invested my entire lifetime in learning to be a caterpillar! I think about the future; what it means. Like the victim of a stroke, I must relearn even the most basic skills: to walk, to talk, to sing. All the energy I put into becoming a caterpillar will be wasted. Am I willing to give that up? And why would I want to be a butterfly? Surely a caterpillar’s job is just as honorable. Do I have to give up part of myself, part of what I’ve spent my life becoming, to make the wings that let me fly? But the course of nature overpowers my reluctance. Before I know it, I am locked in seclusion; alone in the dark. I fade in and out of consciousness as my body is dissolved and my very being ripped apart to the core. I feel the most intense pain. I feel the most intense loneliness. I feel most intensely a lack of inspiration and meaning. I feel that I’ve become nothing; a shadow of my former self. Somehow I sense that I am bound. I sense that there is a wall enclosing me. That if I can escape the wall, I can go back. I don’t know how but the next thing I know, I’m pushing out into the light. The light. So intense it’s painful. But so beautiful. I look at myself. I’m shaking from exertion, barely able to support my own weight. I’m smaller. More frail. A pair of wings are curled against my body. Pathetic, soggy, wings. And I realize there is no going back. But even as I lament my loss, a transformation is taking place. The wings are unfurling, drying, strengthening. I am a new creature. A beautiful creature. A creature light enough to float above the world, bringing beauty, meaning, and inspiration. A creature strong enough to defy gravity. A creature gentle enough to land on a flower. A creature weak enough to be broken in an instant. And I wonder. Will I make it past the cocoon? Past the spreading of the wings? Will everyone else?
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”