Becoming a Butterfly: the anatomy of change


I’ve been thinking about change. I know if you follow this blog, you’re thinking I write a lot about change, but what is life about if it’s not about growing and changing? Anyway, I was talking to my spiritual director and she told me that when a caterpillar enters a chrysalis, it actually dissolves into primordial soup before it reforms into a caterpillar!   

It doesn’t take much to see the analogies to our own growth here; something has to die before something new can be born. We have to let the old things actually dissolve before the new can come.

Well, this was just too cool, so I had to google it. And I found out these cool facts on Scientific American. The analogy just gets better!

First, the caterpillar dissolves itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve its own tissue. So, WE have to do the changing or at least consent to it. We can’t wait for anyone to do it for us. We have to allow parts of us to die – those parts of us that don’t serve us anymore, those things we’ve grown beyond, or those we want to get rid of.

Second, not everything in the caterpillar dissolves. There are highly organized groups of cells called, “Imaginal Discs,” that contain the DNA to make the new butterfly. This DNA already exists within the caterpillar and is just waiting to be activated. The seeds of the changes you need to make are already within you, just waiting for a chance to grow! And I LOVE that they’re called Imaginal Discs. Just IMAGINE the changes you want to make!

Third, once the caterpillar has been dissolved, the Imaginal Discs use the protein rich caterpillar soup to fuel their growth! So, don’t despair, nothing is wasted. All the crap we have experienced: the failed relationships, the regrets, all the old dead things we need to let go of, are only fuel for the new growth!

Chrysalis final 2

I was quite encouraged by this analogy as I’ve felt that I’ve been in the primordial soup phase for a long time: dark, unformed, unsure that I’ll survive. But now I feel that the Imaginal Discs are starting to kick in and that I’m forming into something new. I don’t know what that will look like, but hopefully, it will be something beautiful!


Photo Credits: butterfly, mine.  Chrysalis Siah St. Clair


Say Something

Man with duct tape over his mouth
Man with duct tape over his mouth

When I was trying to understand about Racial Prejudice (I am still learning and will be always), I learned that keeping silent during times of injustice is a power position that comes with privilege. That is if I am not directly affected by injustice, then staying silent doesn’t change my personal experience. But those directly affected by injustice only stay silent at a significant personal cost.

White America has forgotten how to lament. Did you know that the Psalms of Lament and the entire Book of Lamentations has been removed from many prayer books? We have forgotten good Friday and we have jumped to Easter. We’ve taken on a happy, positive Christianity.

But that is not real life. Real life is hard, and scary, and messy – as we have learned in Orlando.

Please watch this short video about the rough day when I learned not to stay silent in the face of injustice but to “mourn with those that mourn.”


I encourage everyone to say something about the tragedy in Orlando. You may not think you have any friends in the rainbow community, but you do, and they are hurting and afraid. Here are some templates you are welcome to cut and paste to help you “say something.”

“My heart is breaking over Orlando.”

“Praying for the families and friends of all who were lost in Orlando.”

“Praying for the men and women killed in Orlando, their families, those caring for the wounded, and the first responders who rushed into the gunfire.”

“I can’t stop crying.”


It doesn’t ‘t take much. You can practice here if you want. Tell me how you are feeling about Orlando.

Photo Credit