One of the best metaphors for new beginnings and transformations is the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly.
The caterpillar encases itself and is forced into a dark small area where it cannot be distracted by anything. No longer can the sun and rain enter its world. It is alone in the darkness wrapped in what it has spun from inside. Only by facing the darkness does the caterpillar’s body begin to spread out and its light, beautiful wings begin to form.
The caterpillar must shed its last attachment to the dark, cramped space it has gotten used to – a form of familiar comfort – and begin breaking through the barrier of self in which it has wrapped itself. It doesn’t have a clue what lies beyond, but it responds to a higher calling anyway.
If a human helps the butterfly break through the cocoon, it will never fly. Only by finding the strength to break through that last attachment can this delicate being with a body so light and fragile, fly free.
If a caterpillar were given a choice, it might remain in its cocoon where everything is comfortable and familiar rather than coming out to be a butterfly. The caterpillar does not comprehend what it is becoming. We are in a similar predicament. We spend our time and energy trying to improve the cocoon, a little paint here, some wallpaper there, and we will have a good looking cocoon. We don’t realize we are growing into something that will have the freedom to fly away in perfect bliss. Someday we will outgrow our present condition and have wings that will take us to heights we cannot imagine at the present time.
All of life is preparation for transition from one state to another, from one circumstance to another. The winds of change may come as a fierce hurricane ripping our life asunder or as a tender breeze that caresses our cheeks.
Honoring the truth of change allows our experience of darkness to be part of the greater whole. It asks the heart to be present and trust at deeper and deeper levels. It asks us to risk becoming butterflies while still in our cocoons.