Despite broken bones, puffy eyes, and toddlers who are suddenly boycotting their naps, I’m on an Easter kick. We all should be. We are an Easter people. Besides, joy feels good.
During my most recent spiritual direction session I was sharing how it’s not easy to dredge up dark bits from my past. My spiritual director had asked me to participate in an Ignatian exercise in which you gently, without rushing, examine your past, and look at every experience – good and bad – with hope, faith, and gratitude and love for yourself and for God’s love for you. Like praying the Rosary, you remember the joyful mysteries of your life as well as the sorrowful ones and in everything, you rummage around for God, uncovering His purpose for you and how that joy or that pain you experienced helped to shape you into the person you are today.
As I reflected on my life so far, there were certain moments when I could clearly see the greater purpose, but there were a few I wanted to shut out. Why did I allow that pain to enter my life? Those were the toughest moments to revisit: The ones that were in my control, the times when I could have chosen a better, more “Godward” path, but instead I turned away from His love by not showing my love to a neighbor, a loved one, or to myself. In fact, a lack of healthy self-love was behind so many of my past mistakes (think my eating disorder). I acted out of line because I didn’t love and respect myself or believe in God enough or believe that I was worthy enough to be loved by Him.
Why does it have to hurt so badly? Why do we have to lose everything to realize all we ever needed was Him? These are some of the mysteries of the cross. Yet, this is a season where we step out of the shadow of the cross into the light. It’s a time when we choose to believe even if there is doubt or fear or unanswerable questions.
I’ve been thinking a lot of my girls’ fuzzy, fat caterpillars, how we watched them eat and eat and eat. After their gluttony, they started to enclose themselves into chrysalises. I remembered my cynicism, my doubt. First, I didn’t see any change in the caterpillars. Were they really getting any bigger? When I finally did notice their new plumpness and saw each form a chrysalis, I still wasn’t convinced. Those chrysalises are probably going to be nothing but empty tombs. My poor children will be so disappointed. There’s no way this is going to work. If I can’t even keep all of our houseplants alive, how in the world am I going to raise butterflies?
The first week in April I was setting the breakfast table when I glanced into the mesh butterfly habitat and gasped. Then I shouted,” Butterflies! Butterflies!” My girls and I all did a happy, little dance. Two butterflies were spreading their delicate wings open. One was flitting about. Later that day two more hatched. Every single chrysalis released a winged creature poised for flight. From something that looked so lifeless, a thing of great beauty emerged.
God takes it a step further with His beloved children. Not only from lifelessness, but from raw pain that is sometimes worse than being numb, He heals. He transforms. He brings forth new life.
And like my children who witnessed the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly and then watched as we later released these winged beauties into the spring air, we should be in all be in awe of the new life within us. We should all be very, very joyful.
As an aside, this Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden was by far one of the best investments I’ve ever made. My children loved watching the caterpillars grow, and the transformation into butterflies was amazing. This is homeschool science at its best!