"If you cut open a chrysalis you won't find a caterpillar growing wings. You won't find a caterpillar butterfly hybrid. You'll find butterfly soup. The caterpillar doesn't just change, it dissolves, it becomes completely broken down that it might become an entirely new creation"
There are times when my heart is full and I find it hard to write. I cry, I stare at the sky, I fit into small spaces and try to fit the large scale meaning of life into my finite human mind. But there are moments so big, so profound, so beautiful that they change you on a cellular level, and this past week felt like that for me.
It felt like butterfly soup, like the caterpillar dissolving and changing on an intricate level, making way for new birth, for butterfly wings.
Maybe I'm not there yet, but I like to think I'm a little bit closer to knowing what it's like to have butterfly wings.
I'm not a dancer. I'd like to be, but somehow my lack of coordination and clumsiness has made that a near impossible feat. I'm not fearless, or especially brave. I'm more like the cowardly lion, always looking for courage. I love deeply and wildly, so I know what it's like to live life as a reflection of one's heart. What I didn't know was what it was like to move as a reflection of one's heart in response to one's self. When the music plays, when the false selves are stripped away, when all that exists is the sound of a heartbeat and a group of people digging deep so you can root down and up, I learned a little something about loving myself. Not about being fearless but letting each breath and movement become a hallelujah fulfilled in and through me, letting it become the answer to every prayer I prayed when I didn't think I would make it, holding myself in a place of honour without judgement or shame. My body isn't that of a dancer, but I think my heart is. I think my heart knew how to dance all along, if only I'd give it the freedom to do so. I think when the skeleton of my old self was dissolved, all that boneless-ness gave my heart space to expand out and pulsate through every fiber and cell of my body. I think in that moment, I finally grew my butterfly wings.
Butterflies have beautiful lives. I heard that once. "You're like a butterfly," He told me, "Butterflies can't see their wings, they have no idea how beautiful they are."
It feels strange, moving with these new wings. It takes time to adjust, to learn how to adapt to life with these wings on your back. The big change, they say, is from caterpillar to butterfly and while I agree I also think that learning how to fly when you've spent your whole life crawling on the ground is a pretty big adjustment in and of itself. Sometimes I flap them around, just because I can. These beautiful gifts, this freedom, sometimes its hard to believe that it's all mine.
I got to experience the most beautiful thing the other day. I got to experience a room full of people believing in my wings. They knew I could fly before I did. They knew the chrysalis would eventually break open when I doubted it. They held me in the becoming, and rejoiced with me in the flying. It is the most incredible feeling knowing there are so many people rooting for your freedom, affirming that you are beautiful and deserving, worthy and smart and kind and lovely. And I am so blessed by their hands, their words, their love. I am so grateful.
There is a song I used to listen to way back in junior high I'd all but forgotten about until my tribe spoke these words of faith and love over me. I related to it then, and I think a part of me always has been getting ready for these wings.
Butterfly girl, don't you know you're beautiful by now? Too long in hiding. Free to shine girl, time to spread your wings and show your colours to the world.
I'm a lot of things in life. I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend. I used to say I was never good enough, that I didn't deserve good things, that I was broken. I'm learning to replace those words with new words like beautiful, trusting, loving and free. I used to not understand the magic of butterflies. But as one floated across my front yard today, I couldn't help but pause and admire the beauty and strength it took this tiny creature to become. I didn't understand butterflies until I became one. Now? I think they're the most beautiful things in the world.