I’ve been considering metamorphosis this morning. No, not the Franz Kafka novella that we read in our literature classes. I try NOT to think about that! But real biological metamorphosis that many species go through. More specifically I’ve been thinking of moths and butterflies and the wonderful process involved in their transformation from their larva state, commonly known as caterpillars.
I found these stages of the moth’s life cycle to provide a good lesson for us as our congregation begins our next stage of development. The quotes and pictures are from an article at this link: https://www.pestwiki.com/moth-life-cycle/
The very first stage of the life cycle of a moth is the embryonic stage. This is the stage where the embryo develops inside of the egg. I envision this as the part of our history where we were just beginning, meeting in houses or other temporary places, trying to find out who we were and what we were going to be.
The second stage is the larva stage (commonly referred to as a caterpillar). “When the caterpillar first hatches, before it molts and sheds, it is said to be in its first instar. It continues to go through this process as it grows.” I envision this as what has been occurring in our congregation since we hatched out of temporary housing and became more visible and active in the community.
The third stage is the pupa stage. “A caterpillar has the ability to spin a type of silk made out of proteins which it produces. A caterpillar spins this silk into a protective shell called the cocoon, inside of which the transformation process will occur. The purpose of the cocoon is to offer protection for the vulnerable larva while it transforms, plus it keeps everything contained.” Some think of the organism as resting during this period. But it is not resting. It is in a cocoon so that it can be protected as it works to transform. I feel like this pandemic and our pulling into our shells for protection has been a time that our congregation has found new ways of being together and new ways to serve one another. We were not growing bigger, but we were transforming.
Stage four is the adult moth or the imaginal stage! An adult moth is technically called an “imago,” therefore making this stage of its life the imaginal stage. And here is something important to remember: “It takes quite a while for the adult moth to emerge from the cocoon, as at this time it is soft, weak, and quite fragile. Getting out of that cocoon is a difficult process. When the moth first emerges from the cocoon, it will have a severely bloated abdomen and shriveled wings, rendering it unable to fly for the first few hours of its adult life.” Wow! I think this is important for us to remember as we emerge from our pandemic life. We will need to be patient with one another and know that not everyone will be ready to fly! It will take some time and planning. We also may be worried that we seem to be weaker than before the metamorphosis process. But this is natural. It takes some time for the transformation. Indeed, we may even be smaller than that big caterpillar. But, folks, if we do this right, we can fly! May it be so!