During Lent there is time for reflection, for prayer, and a time to reassess one’s life. Are we on the path chosen for us by God or just cruising along on one’s own? I think of the caterpillar, content to crawl along a branch, looking for tasty bits of leaves or berries, no cares in the world, no stresses. Life is sheltered, good, content to be in this small world in which it has been placed. But for the caterpillar to be transformed, to reach its full potential, it must spin a cocoon around itself, sleep, and wait for a new beginning. The caterpillar could resist its calling to become a butterfly and stay a caterpillar, secure in its little world on the branch. But if it did not give in to the cocoon, it never would see and feel the life of a butterfly.
As a caterpillar, its life is circumscribed, but safe. As a butterfly, the individual gets to see the larger world, from up above, all its beauty and awesomeness. By becoming a butterfly and fulfilling its potential of spreading pollen from one flower to another, it helps the world renew itself and leave the world better than when it arrived on the earth. It also gets to taste the sweet nectar and aroma the flowers produced, something unthinkable to a lowly caterpillar. By allowing itself to fulfill God’s plan for it, the caterpillar is rewarded in unimaginable ways and gets to soar to the heavens.
Jesus had to die to this life to fulfill God’s plan for him. The Bible tells us that he wrestled with what plan lay before him, that of being whipped and beaten, being nails to a cross, and ultimately dying and being placed in a tomb, a cocoon, to be raised with a new body and ascending into heaven. I’m sure his earthly self was conflicted; if I remain safe and continue my ministry which draws more crowds every day, but I do not claim to be the messiah, I will be safe, the Jewish religious leaders will leave me alone and I can continue safely as I am. But if I give myself to God’s plan, I am setting myself up to be killed. Ultimately, he decided to give himself up to God’s plan for his earthly life in order that the rest of us would be saved.
Are we caterpillars or butterflies, playing it safe in life or willing to step out in faith to find out why we were born, what plan God has for us? During Lent, prayerfully search your heart to listen to God and be willing to step out in faith to make a meaningful change in the world. To leave one’s safety is scary, and could even be painful. But to perform the blessings each one of us has the power to perform for others, is truly transforming and only comes about if one is willing to “die” to self and the old life, to be transformed by God’s bountiful wisdom to beauty and a more purposeful life.