The Butterfly and a Pair of Dimes

A butterfly awoke for the first time.  He had a vague memory of having eaten too much and falling into a deep sleep.  As his tiny head began to clear he found himself wrapped tightly in his blanket and recalled it had actually been a restless, exhausting night’s sleep. He wiggled and pushed and struggled with all his might but the blanket was wrapped so tightly! Finally, he felt that moment of give, when the blanket finally shifts a little, and he began to emerge from his tomb-like shelter.

His wings felt damp and heavy as he emerged but the sunlight quickly dried the glittering and nearly translucent sections. He looked about and wondered at these beautiful extensions of himself in awe. The sunlight poured through them revealing a rainbow of colors. It was quite a sight to see and it felt as though it was the first time he had ever seen them.  Stretching to shake off the constriction of the blankets he took flight. Wow!  He could fly!  He didn’t recall that either.

Just then he caught the scent of something divinely sweet and moist. He was thirsty! And the nectar of some distant, newly blossomed flower seemed to be calling his name.  But what was his name? He couldn’t remember! Did he have one? He couldn’t seem to recall ever having a name.  My name should say something about these amazing wings he thought.  And then his wondering was cut short.

Just before he reached the source of the nectar his eye was caught by something glittering in the sun.  Two brilliant, silvery circles.  They seemed almost identical from one angle.  Both had a vague shape that resembled a head of some sort.  Both had some sort of writing on them. Both had a mirror-like finish and he could see the reflection of his beautiful rainbow colored wings in one of them.  Oh, to land for just a moment and take in the sight!  And then he saw the image of the caterpillar in the other! Oh what a comforting sight that was. He knew just how to be a caterpillar.  His heart was full of longing for a part of him he barely remembered! Two images … each glittering in the sun, calling out to him to land. But which one?  Which one?  He flew around them endlessly trying to decide.  He soon forgot all about the nectar.  He soon forgot the wonderful feeling of emerging from that deep sleep. He forgot about what his name might be.  He found himself instead in an endless cycle, circling round and round a pair of dimes unable to choose.  And to this day, no one has ever seen the butterfly whose wings were a rainbow of light and no one, not even the butterfly, ever knew his name.

Butterflies are a symbol of transformation. They emerge from their chrysalis having overcome an indescribable process of death and resurrection. Once encased in the chrysalis the form of the caterpillar always gives way to the indwelling pattern of the butterfly. The butterfly, always wins. But in this story, the butterfly emerges and then gets caught in an endless cycle between the overwhelming desire to turn back to what he knows, or becoming what he is destined to be.

The pair of dimes is a play on the word “paradigm;” the patterns and mental structures we create in our lives and in the world.  The story asks what mental structures might we find ourselves circling between?  And, what might happen if we chose to seek instead the nectar, the sweetness of life that calls us to a higher expression of what we are destined to be?  

© 2017. Rev. Eileen Patra