I took the last two weeks off from my regular Sunday posts because holidays fell on both Sundays. It gave me a good excuse to just take a full on break, and it was just what I needed.
But now, it's a new year, and I feel ready to get back to it.
This week my mind took me down a dirt road from my past that led to a butterfly garden in Costa Rica where I worked just about two decades ago. In exchange for room and board on the grounds of the garden, I gave hour long tours to tourists passing through the little mountain village, and in order to fill up that hour, I had to study butterflies pretty intensely for a week or two. During my crash course, I also gained quite a strong affection for those pretty little winged creatures.
It was the butterfly life cycle that really pulled me in. We had a chart of the life cycle somewhat like this one hanging in our nature center:
I saved my stop here for the end of my tour; it was my big finale. I'd point out to my group that there is not a single thing in common between the caterpillar and the butterfly that it was to become. I'd confess that before coming to work at the butterfly garden, I had assumed that when the caterpillar curled up into a ball, wings sprouted off some remaining part of the caterpillar body in order to form the butterfly.
But no, I'd tell them, it wasn't that kind of transformation at all. It was a total and complete obliteration. I'd tell them how the caterpillar broke down completely in the chrysalis, into a cellular soup. There was nothing at all identifiable in the caterpillar that you'd find in the butterfly.
Then, I'd cover up the chrysalis at this point and say that if we didn't see this part, there would be nothing at all to let us know that this caterpillar and this butterfly were ever the same creature. I then ended with my big punch on how the butterfly gave us a rare opportunity to peer beyond the veil of death and birth. You know, just to leave them with a little something to ponder.
My boss always joked about how he couldn't believe how I'd get even grown men cooing over the magic of butterflies. It was easy for me though; my own cooing was completely authentic.
And this week, my old friend started fluttering into my mind quite surprisingly.
Over the last few weeks, I've felt like brokenness kept showing up. Within my personal life, within my country, around the world, I just kept feeling like brokenness was showing its face around every corner. And just as I was starting to feel overwhelmed by this sense of so much apparent destruction, the butterfly popped into my mind.
And with it, a sense of hope moved in. As my brain started reaching back into those old files and that butterfly life cycle came back to the front of my mind, I remembered that brokenness and destruction can be part of a much bigger pattern, just as they are in the butterfly life cycle.
To me, the butterfly represents the hope of life after death, the hope that something beautiful will come from the destruction of what came before. Here's to the hope that 2017 will be a great year of transformation, moving some of this brokenness that's come before into something new and beautiful.