Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Butterfly Story Part 1

At church on Sunday our guest minister spoke about the journey of a butterfly (admittedly she had the most annoying voice, pronouncing it Bu-ter.....fly so I may have drifted in and out a bit). She began with this quote

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

--Richard Bach, Illusion

I pondered this a lot that day and felt compelled to research this quote and do some reading on it. I've decided to share some of what I found..... forgive me, it is a long story but the message is amazing....

The Butterfly Story - Carol Lynn Pearson

I sat reading in my garden, hoping the few last flowers would soften the stories in my newspaper: war, famine, drought, economic collapse, the dark promises of history.

“Choose a different promise.”

I looked around. Nothing moved but a butterfly, and I know butterflies can’t talk.

“Of course we can’t,” said the butterfly, all shades of gold, landing on a nearby leaf. “But your soul can. ‘Soul’ and ‘butterfly,’ are the same word in Greek. Look at me and listen to your soul.”

Weird. But less horrible than the words printed on the dead leaves of trees that rustled in my lap. “Okay,” I said, “what’s the promise?”

“Your past is the caterpillar, your future is the butterfly.”


“All of you. The world.”

“How so?”

“When I was a worm, I thought as a worm, and I gorged myself, eating everything in sight, leaving a path of destruction, getting fatter and fatter.”

“We’ve been doing that, for sure!”

“Then I went into my chrysalis stage–darkness, destruction, everything falling apart.”

“Us too!” I slapped the newspaper. “War, famine, plague, banks going broke!”

“My caterpillar self thought it was the end of the world!”

“The end of the world,” I nodded. “Yep, that’s what it feels like.”

“But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly!”

“Wow! That’s–really nice!”

“I didn’t make it up. One of you did. One of your imaginal cells.”

“Our--what cells?”

“Listen carefully,” said the butterfly. “When the breakdown inside the chrysalis is finished and the caterpillar is nothing but ooze...”


“...An amazing process begins. The genetic code shifts. Special cells–brand new cells–seem to come out of nowhere. Scientists call them ‘imaginal cells.’”

“Do they imagine?”

“They do. They hold the vision of a new creature. The old cells see these new ones as enemies and try to kill them.”

“Like we kill our visionaries?–Jesus–Ghandi–Martin Luther King, Jr....”

“Very much like. The old cells are frightened and want to maintain the old caterpillar order. But their day is done. New imaginal cells keep popping up inside the chrysalis--here, there, everywhere. Each holds a piece of the new vision. They begin to communicate.”


“When there are enough of them, when there’s a kind of ‘tipping point,’ all the imaginal cells unite into a grand butterfly design. Each cell gives its small vision into the large vision–and a new thing is born. A butterfly!”

I studied the gorgeous creature on the leaf before me. Impossibly beautiful, iridescent, magical. “We–can do that?” I asked, nearly breathless.

“It’s in process now.”

“But everything I see...” I pointed again to the newspaper.

“Don’t believe everything you see. Old caterpillar cells terrified of their end. Don’t fight them. Outshine them.”

“How do I become one of those–imaginal cells?”

“You choose to. And you realize you have chosen to when you find yourself not only recycling the newspaper but recycling the news. Create a new ending to each terrible story you read and hold that ending in your heart. Choose one or two of the terrible stories and find something you can do to bring about that new ending, alone or with others. Today on earth huge networks of imaginal cells talk to each other as fast as their fingers can go. They meet in neighborhoods. They fly across oceans and hold conferences. Alone and together they magnify the vision.”

“But what do I do?”

“Mostly just be kind. See everyone as the same kind. Do not ‘unkind’ anyone.”

“Even those who are not kind to me?”

“Especially those. See them as the brilliant imaginal cells they might be.”

“Isn’t there, like, a checklist or something?”

“Go inside your own mind and listen.
The butterfly lifted her wings, fluttered friendly for a moment, then was gone.

The story, as I found it online, was about changing the world...be more responsible for the world around you etc. But that wasn't what spoke to me. What spoke to me was about how the world can seem so dark sometimes...so full of despair and regrets. How you can feel like there is no end in sight, that everyone is against you, that no one understands.
The loss of a child makes this so easy to happen....makes it so easy to lose one's self. Darkness and despair surrounded me at times after we lost Cole. For months I put on a front, no one really knew how broken my heart was inside.
My chrysalis stage lasted a long time....and truthfully I am not always sure that my butterfly is completely out of the cacoon. Some days those old caterpillar cells seem to try so hard to kill my butterfly self.
But all in all I do feel renewed, reborn. I am so very blessed and know that I have become so much by losing my son. I love that I am someone people feel they can turn to for help with TTTS, twin issues...even prematurity. I love that God has given me the gift to listen and share experiences in a way the spreads Hope.
I thank God everyday for my butterfly.

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