For the past several weeks, I’ve been reading a wonderful novel about family and forgiveness and tradition. It starts in Wisconsin and comes to its completion in the mountains of Mexico, the journey of a young girl who takes her beloved Abuela’s (grandmother) ashes to the family village to be relinquished and celebrated on the Day of the Dead. I recognized many of these traditions; having grown up in Southern California, I had some dear Mexican friends growing up.
There are many references in this book about the journey of monarch butterflies, who travel from Northern climes to the Mexican mountains, where there are sanctuaries, ancient trees and meadows where they congregate or ‘overwinter’ before beginning the multi-generational journey north again in the spring. This journey in itself is testimony to the miraculous ways our God has designed this world. The greatest impact this story had on me, however, is the metamorphosis of the lowly caterpillars into the beautiful winged creatures that fly to their homes. Do you see the correlation here? These BUGS have never been to this place before but they have an inborn instinct to get there, no matter what the odds. No matter how much they have to change. No matter how many obstacles are in their way, they make this journey every year, to the delight and bedazzlement of people in the know, who witness the culmination of this dangerous adventure.
I finished the story early this morning. I read the last page with sadness and joy. I recognized my own flight in this story.
I’m not there yet.
I do believe that I’ve shed the cocoon. My chrysalis stage is ending, though my wings may still be a bit damp and untried. You’ve probably read the story of how a butterfly must endure the struggle of freeing itself from the cocoon, because that very struggle is what brings blood flow and strength to the wings; without that difficult exertion, flight is impossible. Whenever I bemoan the difficulties in my life, He reminds me that they were uniquely mine, meant to be endured so I could be strong enough to fly. I was not alone in this struggle. Everyone I know has their own—and when I hear the struggles of others He has brought my way, I am secretly grateful that their path was not mine. Just as they marvel at my own strength—“How did you do it?” Badly, resentfully, kicking and screaming every step of the way—until the layers got thin enough and I broke free. Still marveling about that. Where did these wings COME from?!
My journey continues. It is fraught with the difficulties of daily life. Some I can navigate—some I must cry out and ask Him to lift me up on a current of faith that will allow me to travel past the dangers. I don’t know how much further I must travel before I reach the high places, but He does.
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed —in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NIV)
Are you preparing for that day? Deep inside each of us is a hunger to go home—a home we’ve not known yet. We hear stories of glory. We long to see those who’ve gone before us.
Oh glorious day.