Cocooning Butterflies

My house is The Fun House (as in toys, pencils, markers, etc to make the kids happy; chocolate and alcohol to make some of my friends happy; scented candles and purple butterflies to make me happy). I guess I am trying to block out the pain that the house holds within it.

But in regards to my purple butterflies, have you ever wonder where our butterfly symbol came from?

I couldn’t find a definitive answer but I like this story:

A baby butterfly is not a butterfly; she is a caterpillar – not a particularly attractive insect. After the caterpillar has grown through her skin three times, she hides herself in a dark, cool place and spins herself a safe haven – a cocoon. She hangs for days in stillness; no longer a caterpillar, but a chrysalis, preparing her secret. Then one day a head can be seen – a foot comes out. She struggles and struggles. She must pump something from her body into her wings to strengthen them.

It is tempting to help the butterfly from the cocoon, but imagine this:

One day, a man found a cocoon of a butterfly. When a small opening appeared, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shrivelled wings. It never was able to fly. By the struggle to free herself, the butterfly strengthens her wings enough to survive and fly.

So, after a long time she emerges, fanning her wings slowly to dry them. Then she rests for hours. Finally, she soars into the air as though she has been flying forever.

Maybe, the butterfly is our symbol because we need to build a wall around ourselves and take a break from the world as we are unable to handle life as a caterpillar any longer. There is comfort and relief in cocooning yourself from the elements that threatened you, to rest behind your defenses and not think about what lies ahead.

For a while, it might be bliss.

But sooner or later, the caterpillar is inspired toward flight and flowers, not leaves and shade. Sooner or later, she is ready to become a butterfly. Her own new version of herself.

There is a difference, however; others may help us as we struggle. In fact, we should allow them to help us. We need not do it all alone as the butterfly does; but the ultimate responsibility is ours. We have to grieve, hurt, cry, be angry, and struggle to free ourselves from our own cocoon. And one day we do emerge – a beautiful butterfly – a stronger person, a more compassionate person, a more understanding person.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Without any obstacles, we would not be as strong as what we could have been. We would never fly!