The Chrysalis

(Dedicated to my sisters who are currently in a state of Goo.)

It is the season of the monarch butterfly here in southern Indiana. They can be spotted everywhere – floating on the wind, drinking from a blossom, gliding through sunbeams – readying themselves for an impossible-seeming migration and reminding us of both the fragility and endurance of life.

I love butterflies; really I do. They are magnificent and otherworldly.

But today I want to honor The Chrysalis.

Image by Beth McNeely

When I first read about the process of transformation the caterpillar must endure in order to grow wings, I was appalled. She first attaches herself by her feet to any horizontal structure. Hanging upside down, she curls her head ever so slightly inwards. Her body begins building the protective structure starting at the curve of her “neck.” As the chrysalis continues to form, she sheds her caterpillar skin, releasing to the wind that old costume that no longer serves her. She remains in this shell for a little over 2 weeks, her body turning into a cellular soup before restructuring itself and emerging into the world as a vivid, winged butterfly.

It seemed impossible – the complete disassembly of its entire physical form into… well, GOO?!?

How could a living creature even survive this type of un-forming? And what marvelous cellular “knowing” drove this process? At what point does the caterpillar realize it’s done with this old life and ready for rebirth? Is it ignorant of its own journey, merely following the steps laid down by countless generations before it? Or is it pushed forth by an innate desire for something more?

When you look closely at a monarch chrysalis, you will see that it is lined with a golden filigree. The structure itself is so intricate and delicate, that to be precisely decorated in this way makes it appear to have been painted overnight by a tiny fairy brush. Perhaps it is a signal to anyone that comes across one to take heed – there is magic taking place inside.

The chrysalis is a dichotomy: the creature inside is infinitely vulnerable, yet it is undergoing a process so validated by nature that it dates back to the time of the dinosaurs. In other words, it works. More often than not, caterpillars emerge from their metamorphic state of goo as a butterfly capable of living long enough to reproduce and continue the cycle.

In our earthly human lives, if we are lucky enough, we will find ourselves in a transformative state much like the pile of soupy goo inside a chrysalis. If we are lucky enough, we will not trudge through our whole existence as a flightless caterpillar. 

And when we are inside our chrysalis it can seem impossible that we will ever be anything but goo.

Yet something inside our cells, something in our very souls, is driving this process of metamorphosis. It is timeless

I offer you this: If you are the Goo right now, KEEP BEING THE GOO. It’s okay to be the Goo.

Know that you are growing; you are evolving; you are changing… even if you can’t see it happening. 

Know that one day, that chrysalis will crack open, and you will look at your reflection and realize you have wings.

©Vixen Lea 2020

Image by Tracy Price

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