A couple of days ago, I was enjoying the sunshine on our back deck, when a butterfly appeared on the table and started crawling towards my leg. I say 'appeared', because I never really saw it fly and land. Perhaps it fell from the arbor above my head. Anyways, it eventually climbed up my leg that was resting on the table (I know, don't tell anyone) and then onto my arm and up to my shoulder. I spent probably 15 or 20 minutes with this butterfly.
Because it wouldn't fly, I decided that it must be a dying or injured butterfly and so was just hanging out or wanting some company as it passed on. Eventually, I had to go inside, so I carefully put a little twig up where it could crawl onto it and I set in down on the ground where there was a low-lying shrub so that it could eat if it wanted to.
I checked back on it yesterday, and there it was. Today, it had moved only a little bit further. For a dying butterfly, it was certainly exhibiting some longevity!
I decided something else must be going on. Maybe it was injured. So I sat down and spent some more time with it. It really looked very healthy, other than the fact that it won't fly. It was kind of clinging to whatever it was holding onto and tried to move by pulling itself along with its legs. Every now and then, it would kind of flutter its wings.
This butterfly was acting an awful lot like a caterpillar. Hmmm...I started wondering if it knew it was no longer a caterpillar. So, I got a twig and the butterfly crawled onto it and clung for dear life. I lifted the twig up in the air and shook it off, and sure enough, it took off flying. Not for very long, however, as soon it was clinging to the next blade of grass it could find.
So on the twig it went again and up for another flying lesson. This time it flew a little longer, then down it came. By the fourth or fifth flight, it was really starting to get some air time, fluttering around the yard looking like the beautiful Monarch that it is. It finally landed in a tree out of my reach, so the flying lessons stopped. But this was really a remarkable experience and, of course, raised the question, 'Where in my life do I act like a caterpillar even though I have my wings...' I guess one of the questions we have to ask is 'Do I have the equipment to do this? If so, why am I crawling instead of flying?'
Makes me wonder how often that fear blinds us to the natural gifts and abilities that are waiting on the shelf for us, but that we are too uncertain, too fearful, too careful to not color outside the lines to actually claim these gifts as our inheritance and as tools for our ministry in the world. Although there is a natural process of unfolding that occurs in our development, I think that there are times when we have those beautiful wings all ready to spread out and use if we can just give up our identity as caterpillars.
We've developed our persona as a caterpillar to a high degree and become attached to whatever furry coat we've been wearing and our many pairs of cute feet, and our comfortable mode of transportation. The heights of a butterfly are truly dizzying in comparison and there is a danger that we just might choose the safe route. I guess what I've discovered, is that there is no safe route and that butterfly wings are every bit as pretty as furry coats and that perhaps, with a few flying lessons, everything will be just fine!