Once Upon a Butterfly…

Photo by Bethany Clay

Once upon a time there was a beautiful butterfly…

At the beginning of summer my daughters, Blessing and Hope, captured a caterpillar and put him in a jar. With a little help from me they filled the jar with sticks and leaves, added a little dish for water, poked holes in a tin foil lid, and placed it in the sun.

For weeks we watched him closely. Our little friend, Fuzzy, seemed content to crawl around and munch on leaves. Chomp! Chomp! Chomp! He’d munch his way through a jar full, and we’d clean it out and fill it up with more.

The desired result was obvious, Blessing and Hope couldn’t wait to see this wormy little guy transform into a butterfly before their very eyes.

However, a quick Google search led us to believe that our caterpillar was actually on his way to becoming a moth instead. No matter, with a little more research we found that he especially liked milkweed and stocked his jar accordingly.

What research didn’t tell us was how much and how quickly milkweed leaves turn to fuzzy grey mold. Seemingly overnight Fuzzy started his cocooning phase as our milkweed started to rot.

So there we had it, in a few days time, a jar full of mold and one cocoon hanging by a silver thread.

Fuzzy’s future did not look bright.

A week or two passed. I should really throw that thing out, I thought to myself one morning while looking at the jar placed over our kitchen sink. There was zero sign of life from Fuzzy, his cocoon now covered in mold. There’s just no way…

Where there is no way He makes a way.

The next day my girls and I were in the middle of our morning schoolwork (science lessons, ha! ha!) when my mom called from the kitchen, “Blessing! Hope! Come look!”

Squeals of delight filled our house as we saw what she held in her hand: A tiny moth, freshly hatched, flapping its shriveled wings.

A living thing. A new creation.

Here we are at the end of summer. It’s been months since I’ve come to this blog in part because this past season, hasn’t differed too greatly from Fuzzy’s time in our jar.

Not long after my last post, a post where my hopes were high for diving into my writing…getting lost…as I called it, I derailed into a different sort of lost-ness.

Wounds and hurt and sins from my past, I thought long dealt with and buried, resurfaced with a nasty, rotting vengeance.

My relationship with Mister Wonderful, my dreams for writing, my desire to homeschool, even my hope for our family business and our home building project, seemed to dangle by a thread.

I realized it one morning in May. I needed help. I needed healing. I needed a cocoon wrapped around me. Love pulled tight. A miracle worked on the inside.

For the first time in my life I sought and found the help I needed in the form of a Christian counselor willing and able to take on my yuck and decay. Lovingly, wisely, she tended my leaves through this summer season, stocking my jar with good things to chew on.

Every few weeks I was fed. Truth. Love. Possibilities. A little more, a little more, until at last it started to happen, that wrapped up feeling I longed for. That wound up tight, impossibly fragile yet impossibly safe place of not just knowing I am healed, forgiven, loved but also feeling it. Experiencing it. The reality of the cocoon.

To emerge a living thing. A beautiful thing. To stretch my wings and enter into life and all He has for me, a new creation.

A friend once told me that when a caterpillar goes into its cocoon it is physically broken down to its very atoms and is from there rebuilt, remade, transformed into a butterfly.

As a Christian I’ve always known in my head that God loves me and, yes, there have been countless times when I felt His love in my life.

But this is something different. This is love, this is Him, going down to my atoms, defining who I am.

And this defining, redefines everything. My identity, my marriage, my desires, my hopes, my dreams.

This feeling, this awareness would have been enough for me, but the Author is writing a fairy tale and nothing short of happily ever after would do.

Spring house at Stoney Creek Farm

Fresh out of the cocoon He gave me a storybook opportunity to spread my crumpled wings and fly.

At a bed & breakfast called Stoneycreek Farms in Boonsboro, MD (an old 1800’s farmhouse refurbished into an inn) my three best writer friends and I met for a week of beauty, rest, and writing. We’re talking my own king size bed, my own fancy bathroom, hours and hours of writing time, dinner and laughter and movies each night with kindred spirit friends, long talks, walks down flowery paths and creek side trails, porch swing reading, soaking in the love of God for one whole week.

It was like one long, passionate kiss from my Savior.

“It’s time, Dearest,” He told me as I prepared to leave. “Write for me. Unleash your pen.”

Photo by Bethany Clay

How so very like Him. To call out my heart from the deep, from the almost discarded, and supply me with more than I need, with more than I could dream of or think to ask for. To fuel the burning dream inside me. To awaken me to all things good, to His love and care for me.

While at the inn, as we now call it, we saw them just about everywhere.

Butterflies…

Unfurling all kinds of magic and beauty, they fluttered all around us.

My friend Bethany spotted one in particular, a swallowtail perched on a flower, and captured him with her camera.

“He was missing one of his tails,” she told me as she described her amazing find.

“Oh!” I said with that spark of happy I get when schoolwork meets life. “My girls and I just read about that in one of our lessons. It’s part of their defense mechanism. They have these long tails that break off when a predator tries to capture them, allowing them to get free.”

Nodding, Bethany smiled. “He’s a survivor.”

“That’s right,” I said. “A survivor.”

Where there is no way He makes a way…

A chance to break free.

Miracles worked in darkness.

Worms transformed with love and the magic of butterfly wings.