A couple of years ago, I was out for a walk and decided to stop in a small neighborhood bookstore to browse a bit. I didn't have any money with me but I always enjoy the browsing. As I was leaving, I saw that there were some mugs for sale and I glanced through them, even though I didn't need any more mugs. I found one that had a proverb on it that really struck me: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. That mug, purchased on a return trip, remains in my office today.
I read somewhere recently that the notion of the Easter bunny, ironically, precedes the whole event of Easter. It seems that the rabbit was associated with spring because spring is a time of fertility, with plants beginning their yearly new growth and many animals preparing to mate. And since rabbits are so, well ... fertile, they became associated with spring fertility and therefore Easter, our spring holiday. However, at the risk of offending Easter bunny lovers, I believe that the butterfly represents what Easter is so much more deeply. Easter, while about new life, is about so much more than fertility and flowers blooming.
Easter is about new Life. It is about a process of giving up our lives as we know them, letting go of the things that are certain in order to be open to the uncertain. Like the caterpillar, we need to give up being caterpillars in order to become butterflies. However, in order to be transformed into the new life we were created for, often we find ourselves in places of darkness. We feel almost lifeless in our cocoons - for we see no light, no future, no hope. We do not know, while we are in the cocoon, whether we will ever enter the beautiful life that was promised to us when we gave up our old, familiar (caterpillar-like) selves.
However, unlike the caterpillar, if we give up our old lives, we do so not out of some nature-directed life cycle, but with a completely free choice. I choose to give up myself, to cast behind me my worm-like ways. I choose out of love, out of faith and hope that the new Life is truly possible for me. A new Life that is more beautiful than anything imaginable to me in my current state.
It is a scary thing to do. And yet it is the only thing that makes sense to do.
_ _ _
Around the beginning of this year, for no particular reason, I started painting little butterfly pictures (using Microsoft's Paint program). I have written elsewhere of my love of butterflies and it just came to me one day when I felt like playing around with color. I found myself attaching different words (and eventually different phrases or quotes) with each little painting. They started out simply, with "hope" and "peace" and "joy". But then, as so often seems to happen in my life, I entered a journey that I had never really intended to start. I kept feeling drawn to paint more. It was fun and relaxing after a long day because it absorbed my attention. I assumed that I would soon run out ideas and that would be that. However, ideas kept coming to me. And the messages became increasing spiritual, until I realized that I was on the journey toward Easter. As I have experienced when writing, sometimes the things I painted amazed me, that is, they felt like they came from somewhere (Someone) beyond me. I felt compelled to continue - until finally I realized, just this last week, that it was finished.
Allow me to share a few. Join me in the journey toward Easter - a journey that continues every day as we await our transformation.
But, "Wait," you may say, "I am still in the cocoon. I am alone and afraid. I do not know if there really is anything more that this darkness I am in."
And that is where the Promise comes in.
I am in the darkness - but I am not alone. There is Someone with me who knows the way. And he has told me he will remain with me always, however long it takes for me to be transformed into the Life that was promised to me.
Let us together work to keep the promise alive in our hearts. Listen with me to, "Promise", composed by Brian Crain. Thanks to Brian for permission to post my inadequate playing of his copyrighted music. (To learn more about his music and hear it played right, visit his website at www.briancrain.com)