“A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.
The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.
The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shriveled wings, incapable of flight.
What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.”
This butterfly story is one of the best examples we could compare in the life experiences processes we been through. The metamorphosis in the life of a butterfly is a transforming cycle from the life miseries, struggles and dark nights.
When we are passing in to the life struggles there are times we conquered with different kinds of fears, pressures, tensions and disappointments. Seeing only our surroundings covered with gray and sadness, not seeing even a streak of light passing in this moment of experience through the many possibilities that life is presenting us. We immediately think of ways that we could escape away from that phase than making out the best of ourselves.
The man in the story never thought the value of the butterfly’s struggles, he only thought of helping out the butterfly to come out of the cocoon conveniently. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The man’s good intentions actually hurt the butterfly. Sometime in our life journey we find people same as the man in the story, they don’t have any bad intentions helping us out of our cocoon of struggles but it turns out our situations complicated. There are also a kind of encounter with someone who would really cheering you up patiently to let you out of that narrow hole of the cocoon, though it will take time, allowing ourselves to feel the tense and pressures helping us grow maturely in that phase of life.
We could also compare our struggles to a piece of gold which a goldsmith whole day and night awake holding this piece of gold in the middle of flames molding the gold into its best shape, like the lyrics of the song “Refiner’s fire”
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
Refining us putting away our impurities and making us pure as we are formed and tested in hottest flames of life’s challenges.
Struggles in life needs a lot of patience, trusts, faith and perseverance. In todays readings on this second week of Lent, the struggle of a father in person of Abraham tested his faith when God asked Abraham to offer his only son.
“Abraham! Here I am! He replied, …take your son Isaac, your only one whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.”
Abraham was tested by life, faith and experiences of God’s unconditional love, Abraham’s obedience, and faith allows him to confronts the hardest point of being a father though his heart breaks he never doubts to offer Isaac his only son as the holocaust. God saw the purity and faith of Abraham’s heart God spare Isaac in the knife of death instead God provides a Ram to offer as a sacrifice.
In this moment how is our faith going? Let’s check… though we are not same as Abraham that we have to offer our son, but how we trust God’s mercy and compassion, what are the things we could let go which God is asking us in this moment? Though it will break us apart can we make movements of convictions that in the midst of difficulties we let it go. God provides what we need and He gives what is necessary.
However, the second reading is the contrary of what God did to Isaac, God did not spare his own Son.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?”
This reading is a reminder of our own salvation. That this Lenten season expects us our own transformation. The invitation to face our own hardships and arrive to our safety destination. That there is no other god that we have to believe but the God who gave his only son for us to be saved to any condemnation.
The Gospel of St. Mark brought us in the heights of Mt. Tabor for us to experience the mountain of transfiguration. In the second week of Lent Jesus led us to a place to dwell, finding our own mountain to repose and to find Him.
The mountain, for us Carmelites is one of the trademarks of our spirituality, Mt. Carmel where Elijah lived, “there he prayed and fasted, he listened to the word of God and prophesied to the Jewish people. The story of Elijah could be found in the Books of Kings where narrated his difficulties to obey to the God of their fathers.” Our journey as Carmelites profound by the writings of St. John of the Cross “Ascent of Mt. Carmel” dealing with the “Dark Night of the Soul”
The Ascent of Mt. Carmel presented to us the different realities of our own transfiguration in the midst of the dark night. Similar to the life cycle of the butterfly the experience of the soul as the silkworm transforming into a beautiful and courageous butterfly after passing the narrow hole of the cocoon.
St. Teresa of Avila drew a spiritual representation meeting the King in the stages of prayer and spiritual growth into its metamorphosis in the Interior Castle in the fifth mansions.
“You have heard how wonderfully silk is made–in a way such as God alone could plan–how it all comes from an egg resembling a tiny pepper-corn. Not having seen it myself, I only know of it by hearsay, so if the facts are inaccurate the fault will not be mine.
When, in the warm weather, the mulberry trees come into leaf, the little egg which was lifeless before its food was ready, begins to live. The caterpillar nourishes itself upon the mulberry leaves until, when it has grown large, people place near it small twigs upon which, of its own accord, it spins silk from its tiny mouth until it has made a narrow little cocoon in which it buries itself. Then this large and ugly worm leaves the cocoon as a lovely little white butterfly.
- If we had not seen this but had only heard of it as an old legend, who could believe it? Could we persuade ourselves that insects so utterly without the use of reason as a silkworm or a bee would work with such industry and skill in our service that the poor little silkworm loses its life over the task? This would suffice for a short meditation, sisters, without my adding more, for you may learn from it the wonders and the wisdom of God. How if we knew the properties of all things? It is most profitable to ponder over the grandeurs of creation and to exult in being the brides of such a wise and mighty King.
- Let us return to our subject. The silkworm symbolizes the soul which begins to live when, kindled by the Holy Spirit, it commences using the ordinary aids given by God to all, and applies the remedies left by Him in His Church, such as regular confession, religious hooks, and sermons; these are the cure for a soul dead in its negligence and sins and liable to fall into temptation. Then it comes to life and continues nourishing itself on this food and on devout meditation until it has attained full vigour, which is the essential point…”
For Fr. Palau the mountain is a place to alleviate his sorrows in solitude, to retirement and prayer. In the life of Fr. Palau mountain was the place of transformation of his spiritual life. His encounter with his beloved and was place of his renewal of his marriage took place.
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents; one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah…Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice. This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. ”
The disciples of Jesus who were in great awe witness Jesus in his great glory left them imagining to remain building three tents. Though their minds are full of questions, the mystery behind all those events remains in their hearts. Perhaps this event transfigured the hearts of the disciples making them more passionate to their missions, courageous, prayerful, understanding, patient, forgiving and loving. Whatever changes or transformation happened in their lives we are also called to desires what we lack in our spiritual life. Though we experience being alone and abandoned, we must pass to the mountain of dark night avoiding shortcuts but let the night sharpen our sight to transfigured our soul, letting our experiences helped us grow mature spiritually.
The transformation of our lives will work in our willingness to transform, transformation will not happen in an overnight event but like the butterfly its transformation happens gradually in the best time of life’s struggles in patience with prayer and trust to God’s providential care. That in His mercy from an ugly worm to a colorful butterfly will fly in its sprightful wings.