The description of the life transformation of a hairy and/or squishy little caterpillar as he becomes a soft, beautiful butterfly.
The chrysalis stage of metamorphosis: the spunky, squashy little critter forms a cocoon and while hidden inside, undergoes miraculous changes in secret and emerges as that soft, beautiful butterfly.
Here he comes, little Clyde, a short, chunky, furry sort, lumbering along on the branch of transformation. He’s pretty tuckered out, having already shed his skin several times in his lifetime (depending on what kind of little guy he is), becoming stronger and stronger, bigger and bigger, macho-er and macho-er with each turn he makes. A regular body builder among the caterpillar clan, his friends say.
Now, Clyde has an agenda. He has a job to do and eventually he finds the perfect spot for his work to begin. He doesn’t know how to explain why he’s about to do what he’s about to do, after all, we all know that caterpillar’s can’t talk. However, he just has this ‘feeling’ that he must find the perfect leaf on which to do what he knows he needs to do. And for Clyde, this truly is the first day of the rest of his life.
No more will he be trying to hide from inquisitive children who find him fascinating and hold him much too tight. No more will he barely miss the soles of heavy feet as he tries to lumber across the blazing hot sidewalks that burn his belly.
Yes – today is the beginning of a new life for Clyde because today Clyde is going to begin to be transformed.
As Clyde decides the large, green maple leaf tucked near the curve of a branch (beyond the reach of a curious child) is a rather cozy home, he makes himself comfortable. Quite talented, Clyde hangs upside down on the leaf and begins to spin himself into an amazing cocoon, his soft, silky abode for the next two weeks or so.
Now, Clyde the caterpillar isn’t aware of all the mumbo-jumbo it takes to explain such as what is happening with him, but now inside his comfy, cozy and protective 'cubby', known as the pupa or chrysalis – Clyde is going to transform into something amazing. This is sort of like a very long magic show.
Clyde will lose his stubby little legs and trade them in for two long, slender ones. His bulging biceps will somehow become delicate wings that will enable him to float and flitter about, taking him to unimaginable new heights among his familiar world. He will develop a long tongue that drinks of a flower’s nectar – a proboscis. He will scour for bright, showy flowers in which, while at one time in his past he used to merely chew them up, he will now partake of their fragrant juices. Two antennae from which he will use for smelling things will emerge from his head where before there were two microscopic 'smellers' instead.
It has been almost two weeks. The cocoon shakes. Clyde has awakened and is stretching. He has finished his work and is now ready to reappear.
He flexes his muscles. They have disappeared! He is soft and weak. Only by repeatedly beating his new-found wings will he become stronger. As he flaps and flutters those new-found wings in a flurry of excitement, his senses acclimatize themselves to the surroundings into which he has emerged and blood and oxygen begin to fill his system so that he is able to function properly. Clyde keeps at this ritual for about an hour, at which time he is then ready to leave his little little home and begin his new life.
What does all that have to do with Parkinson’s disease? Chronic and terminal illnesses?
A popular Christian recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, wrote a song with these words:
“And there’s more to this life, than living and dying
More than just trying to make it through the day.
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see
And there’s more than this life alone can be.”
Truly, there is more to this life. But sometimes, you just don't feel like it.
Those who struggle with different aspects of having a chronic disease can often wonder what that ‘more’ is. Some days it’s all you can do to make it through this day and on to the next one. Maybe it’s the physical aspect – the slowing down, the falling, the intense pain, the shaking, the cane, the wheelchair. Maybe it’s the mental – the forgetfulness, the slurred speech, the effects of the medication on the other parts of our brain. Or maybe it’s the emotional – the ups and downs, the what-ifs, the fears.
There is more. While we flounder in our faith, we desperately hold onto hope, because we are desperate to hold on! We cling to and trust in a mighty God who keeps His promises.
- Promises that we can claim for the constant companionship of One to walk with us. One who knows all too well what suffering is really about: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
- Promises that claim His sovereignty in a chaotic world: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
- Promises that claim His strength in our weakness: “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses… in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
You see, it is in the waiting – in the chrysalis stages of living – where we are changed. In the pain and through it. In the heartache over having a disease. It is in this stage where we realize that when we are fragile, frail, weak, and weary – this is the place where we are made strong. It is the place where we don’t give up hope and we fight to live. We flap our wings and while we may not fly to new heights physically, we are renewed in our strength. We will soar on wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
When we start out in life, we are much like Clyde, just lumbering along, minding our own business and then bam! We kinda get squished. Someone delivers some bad news, a friend passes away, we’re told we have Parkinson’s disease or a loved one has Alzheimer’s, we lose our job…
Those places are the perfect places in which to wrap up in the Lord’s cocoon – in his protection – and rest in Him. When we stay close and allow Him to protect and cover us, He transforms us into something much, much more beautiful. The result is worth the wait, even if the twelve days turn into twelve months which could even turn into twelve years. Through the process, we can come out perfected if we will choose to trust during the transformation.
If you're reading this, I want to encourage you to not give up. To not give in. There really is more to this life than living and feeling as if you’re dying. You have a large part in the living. You may not believe it, you may not feel it – but you do. A very important part. As you walk through this time of ‘chrysalis-ness’, a time of transformation, of trusting Him to be there, to guide, to carry and hold you – just hang in there – like Clyde did. It won’t be long before this transformation is complete and you will have emerged a beautiful and strong new creation, flitting about with new wings. I know. I've seen it happen.