Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baggage-free Flying (Part II - Transformation Series)

It is day twelve of our butterfly watch. For several days we've observed these creatures in their pupal stage, where they hang upside down in perfect stillness as they wait to become butterflies. Sadly, only two of them ended up hanging. During the transfer to their habitat, three of the chrysalids fell. Yes, I dropped them, and felt pretty bad about it for days.

Two chrysalids house hopeful butterflies.
So we wondered, will they all make it?
Will the fallen ones survive?

It turns out they all have. They're alive and well, sipping sugar water and fluttering by as we contemplate their transformed bodies. Only one of them seems to have a problem. As the butterfly emerged from its chrysalid, part of its interim home adhered to one of its wings, which curled up on itself. The doctor in me wanted to intervene right away, but I decided to wait and see whether its own wing pumping motion would make it detach. It didn't.

So I thought, How sad. Butterflies aren't meant to hop like bunnies. They are meant to soar, to fly! They are symbols of freedom, after all. Imagine flying with a curled up wing and a permanent knapsack on your back.

As I searched for my tweezers, I thought of how some people are walking through life with all kinds of baggage on their backs. Must be tough to make progress when you're the one holding yourself back.

I found my forceps and grabbed on to my unsuspecting patient's chrysalid. As the butterfly took off, most of its old home broke off, and I noticed she did fly. She flew! I was ecstatic to see that her wings work, though I still wonder how she'll do when we let her go.

The whole experience lends itself to some great reflections. How many of us, though equipped with wings, are hopping around like bunnies or, worse, still crawling the ground like caterpillars? Do we want to fly but refuse to remove the heavy loads weighing down our wings? Are there some who have tried to help us but we've refused to receive their help, perhaps out of pride or even fearing the very freedom we long for? What could we become if we let them help us drop our load?

And have we sat long enough - gaining wisdom through trials - allowing our wings to dry before we take off again? Or do we move from one thing to the next without any time devoted to reflection and learning from past mistakes?

One of my favorite Bible verses comes from Galatians 5:1, where Paul exclaims, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Later on, Paul explains the purpose of our freedom, You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

We have not been given wings to sit around, to crawl the ground, to wait for someone else to do what we've been called to do. We have been given wings that we may soar to new heights, trusting that the One who put us here and cares for us through each transformation of life will remain with us at every new place to which we're called. And when we travel there, we have one purpose. 

We've been set free to love.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Our freedom comes with boundaries, and with a purpose. So let us be free.

Free to live abundantly. Free to serve. To give and to receive. To love.

Be free!
Dr Mari

* See Be Still and Know for Part I of this series, Hope Flies Despite Broken Wings! for Part III, and A Favorite Christmas Gift ... Insects! for Part IV. *

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