Almost two years ago two of our best friends died from cancer in the same week.
They were both in their late twenties. Energetic people who loved life and had just as much going for them as they had to offer.
Being a physical therapist at the time I was surrounded by people in pain and hurting on the inside.. The world seemed more broken than ever and I felt hopeless knowing that there was not much I could do for any of them.
One night I was crying and praying that God would show me what to do.
Through my tears I saw a picture of caterpillar – and somehow I knew that caterpillar was me. It was spinning itself into a cocoon. Spinning and spinning in an attempt to break away from this world and all that is within it. There was a feeling of expectancy, like something was about to change radically.
Time passed. I am not sure exactly how long a metamorphosis takes, but it was perhaps the same amount of time. Enough time to be transformed into something new; almost like a “second birth”. And out came the most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen, together with the words: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
At first the butterfly looked a bit confused. What do you say? What are you supposed to do when you are a butterfly? How do you use your wings to fly?
The answer came in a clear and simple voice, repeating itself over and over again; “Just be a butterfly, just be a butterfly, just be a butterfly”.
Photographer: Leon Skinner
Then the other butterflies came. They were even more beautiful than the first butterfly, flying gracefully towards her. The striking thing was that there was no jealousy, selfishness or pride amongst them. They encouraged and inspired each other in a way that had love written all over it.
Many caterpillars were still on the ground. Unlike the butterflies, they were filled with envy, hate and pride. Some of them mocked the butterflies and spread lies about them. Others admired the butterflies, worshipped them even. Perhaps deep down they knew that they were meant to be butterflies too.
I could see that the butterfly was still a little bit confused and easily hurt by the caterpillars’ words. She was even physically trying to drag them to a better place. This only left her tired and hurt, without getting them anywhere.
“You are not supposed to carry them”: the simple voice spoke again. “You were never supposed to carry them. Just be a butterfly”.
The butterfly looked around and saw that some of the caterpillars were also starting to spin themselves into cocoons. Whatever the other butterflies were doing were obviously more effective. She saw them flying around whispering gentle words that only the caterpillars could hear.
When she moved closer to hear what they were saying. The message was so simple that even a child could understand it. (Almost like the gospel.)
And off the butterfly went, whispering into the caterpillars ears and praying that they will repent: “You can be a butterfly too. You can be a butterfly too. This is what you must do…”
I’ve learned that is not up to us to save them, to carry them to the Cross. We cannot change them any more than one butterfly can change a caterpillar into a butterfly.
It is impossible for us to turn ourselves into butterflies as well. We simply get to choose not to conform to this world and to ‘be transformed by the renewing of our minds’.
In essence we are all the same. But we need to be changed radically if we want to play a little part in this transformation of the world.
We need to ‘just be’, who God created us to be. And to spread the truth that will also set them free. This is our purpose.
Our lives are fragile and fleeting. It might be even shorter than we think.
Let’s not waste it!