My daughter has been begging me for a pet, so of course I took the easy route when she found some monarch butterfly caterpillars and asked if they could be her pet. Sure! Why not? It’s an easy yes.
Doesn’t bite- Check.
Welcome, bug pets, to the family.
Did you know monarch caterpillars ONLY eat milkweed? And a LOT of it? We got a few branches from a neighbor but in less than a day the caterpillars munched the milkweed down to the stem!
After calling multiple nurseries we finally found milkweed for sale at our local organic nursery- Grogg’s Green Barn. If you are in the Tulsa area you should definitely check it out! We not only found milkweed we also got to see the chickens roosting, play in the “clean dirt” kid area, and feed the fish in the koi pond out front. So fun!
After $21 worth of milkweed (turns out these “pets” are not as cost-friendly as I thought) the caterpillars chowed down on their all you can eat buffet refills. Sometimes they barely moved but most of the time they were super active, eating as fast and as much as they could. They consumed everything they could, the bare stems all that remained in their wake.
When we left the house the next morning we left a couple caterpillars. We came back a few hours later to a beautiful surprise!
The milky mint green chrysalis adorned with golden beads seemed to hint at the hopeful glimmer of what’s to come. When I saw it I thought- how could a bug make something so golden?
Although me and the kids knew a chrysalis would form we never did understand how it happened. For a while we couldn’t quite catch it happening; it usually happened when we were not watching, either overnight or away from home. I wonder if this change is better done in private. The one time we caught the beginning, we saw the change happen. The chrysalis was forming internally as the skin began to split and the caterpillar wriggled off it’s exterior, revealing the chrysalis from the inside out.
I hadn’t thought of alchemy for a long time, but something about this process reminded me of the magic it takes to turn something of little value into pure gold.
A fool’s pursuit, they say, yet here in nature it’s happening before my eyes. A caterpillar, crawling wherever she wanted and eating as much as she wanted, living her truth in the freedom she had capacity to embody.
Yet something deep inside her brought her to a place of stillness even as she had to strip herself of her identity. Her movement and access to resources was dramatically and severely limited. Definitely seems a step away from freedom, still… something deep inside brings her to this place of dark rest. She knows her truth is not limited to her current situation.
Are things happening in your life that seem like restrictions? Things that seem to be getting in the way of your hopes and dreams? Fears that you aren’t worth the change you desire?
What if that place is meant to change you for good? To transform you so you can experience levels of freedom you never dreamed possible?
I dare you to brave that place. Stop resisting and sit there for awhile. Search for the gold lining in those dark and difficult areas of your life. We have all heard that cliche saying “The night is darkest before the dawn” but the chrysalis literally turns dark right before it’s time for the butterfly emerges.
When you have felt stuck for so long in a dark place… don’t give up.
When you have felt something true about yourself but want to change for the better… keep dreaming.
When you can see the change but nothing seems to be happening… keep holding on.
When you are working on your goals and nobody knows.. it will be worth it all.
Another thing I learned although I wasn’t around to see it happen- when a butterfly finally emerges from it’s gilded coffin it must struggle out on it’s own. If you attempt to open the chrysalis wider to make it easier for the butterfly to get out then it won’t have enough pressure to squeeze the fluids from it’s body all the way through the veins of the wings and it won’t be able to fly. The struggle is essential to fly. Oh but when that struggle is over!
What once could only crawl and consume can now fly and pollinate.
What once was so needy and limited and vulnerable can now offer beauty and flight and fruitfulness.
If this is how it is for a bug, how much more could it be for the human heart?
Where are you in the metamorphosis?
Just because you are crawling doesn’t mean you weren’t meant to fly.
Just because you are the one needing help doesn’t mean you will never have anything of value to offer.
Just because you are in a dark season where it seems like there is no end and no hope doesn’t mean that is where you will stay.
Don’t judge the stage you are in; you are where you are and you can’t hurry it along. But you can slow it down. You could listen to the voices that say the truth about where you are now- you are slow, you are in a dark place, you are limited. You could listen to those whispers and define your entire self and future by those voices.
The reality of where you are now, hungry caterpillar or confined chrysalis, does not mean you won’t become a butterfly. Don’t settle for the lie that your current reality defines your future.
Go to that secret place and do the work. If your situation is forcing you to that secret place then give in and dig deep. Struggle for your freedom to fly. It is your destiny. You know it is. Don’t listen to any voice that says your current state is where you will alway be. The truth of where you are does not define the truth of who you can become.
There is a mystery in metamorphosis, giving in to stillness and rest and even discomfort can be exactly what gives us wings. It is the alchemy that can give us something worth more than gold.