Written by Elizabeth Mak, Art by Tammi Yu
I lived in a green home from the time I was born. Growing up, I remember it had an abundance of shade from the tasty foliage and its leaves stretched on and on for what seemed like miles. I had never known of anything else. I could have easily told you which branches led to the finest salad greens and my family would spend all day munching away at any green leaf they could find. We lived by the motto, “a family that eats together, stays together.” In the cool of the night, we went out to eat; in the heat of the day we would traverse a branch for a snack. We knew of nothing else, really, but to eat. We lived to consume, looked constantly for something to fill us. But even after we would fill our tummies, it seemed like we never had enough. We were always looking for more, something to satisfy us to our heart’s content but we could never seem to find it.
It wasn’t until one morning, before the sun came up, that I woke up and stumbled upon the most amazing discovery. As I scurried among the dew of the foliage in search of breakfast, I suddenly smelled the most delicious fragrance. Tracing the lovely aroma back to its source, I came upon something I had never before seenâ€”leaves of vibrant colors against a backdrop of green leaves that would have been perfect for my breakfast. But the colorful leaves mesmerized me. “What are these?” I thought to myself, “I have never before seen anything like them.” They blossomed around straw-like stems that I also had never before seen. It was a sight of marvelous beauty.
Then, suddenly, something even more wonderful took my breath away. Flying through the air were colors just as brilliant as the colors of the leaves I had just seen, but with even bolder hues in inexplicably wondrous detail. These leavesâ€”if they were so, I did not knowâ€”swatted through the air, coming closer and closer to me until finally I could see that they were wings belonging to what looked to be one like myselfâ€”yet different. The flying creature came closer to the colorful fragrant leaves I spotted among the foliage and, letting down her long nose, drank from its center.
I quickly crawled up close and shouted, “What are you? And what does it taste like?”
Seeing me below, she smiled and said, “Why, hello there! What is your name?”
“I’m Oliver, and I’m a caterpillar.”
“Well then, Oliver, I was just like you not too long ago. And you will soon be like me, a butterfly, though only after a very difficult time. But take heart, little one. The nectar of this flower is sweeter than any green leaf you have ever tasted.”
She then flew off into the dim-lit sky, growing smaller and smaller until I could see her no more.
What did she mean that I would soon be like her? I thought to myself. How could I become something so beautiful and marvelous? And oh, if the sweetness of the nectar tastes like the fragrant smell I chanced upon, what a satisfying elixir it must be! How could I ever partake of another leaf again? I quickly ran up onto the colorful leaves of the flower and chomped down, but the taste was bitter and disappointing. I sulked away in despair.
After that miraculous encounter, I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything anymore. Every green leaf became bland to me. What I once couldn’t get enough of had become tasteless to me. When I told my brothers all about what I had seen, they laughed at me, ridiculed me and called me crazy. They just went on eating, satisfied with what they had always known and done. How can they continue on like this? Don’t they see how meaningless it is? But the more I shared about all that I saw, the more they shunned me, until finally, they asked me to leave and no longer bother them about the nonsense of the beauty and wonder I had seen and would become.
So I sulked down the tree trunk that I had always known as home in search of a new abode. “Where would I go? What would I do?” I thought to myself. I cried a trail of tears all along the bark. Day after day, I wriggled my way down the tree, past one branch after the other. Everything looked the same, and I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. I also felt more and more sluggish as the days went on. Maybe it’s because I haven’t eaten for days? I crawled down a thin branch which had one big leaf on it. I took a biteâ€”bland, with a bitter aftertaste. I burst into tears and planted myself beneath the big leaf. Lonely, I cried myself to sleep under its cool shade.
Upon waking, I was sore all over, and felt like I had been sleeping for ages. My eyes seemed glued shut and so did my arms and legs. When I managed to open my crusty eyes, something felt different. The leaf I slept under looked greener, the thin branch looked browner and the sky above me looked bluer. It was like I had opened my eyes for the very first time. Everything around me was bolder and more beautiful than I had ever encountered before.
As I tried to move my arms and legs, they felt trapped. I wriggled until I finally crawled out of what felt like my own skin. I felt exposed. Something was definitely different. I looked back and saw something unbelievable: damp, crinkled wings that were my own. It felt like I had four new legs that sprouted out of my back. I hung there in amazement and slowly felt the blood rushing into the wings and the cool air drying them out. I could feel myself getting stronger. Soon enough, I could flap them back and forth, until finally, I let go.
“Ahhhhh…I’m falling, I’m falling, ohâ€”I’m flying? I’m flying! Look at me!” There I was, soaring through the air with bright new beautiful wings with bursts of color I had never before seen. I flapped my wings to go higher and higher until I was soaring high above the tree that had been my home. I never imagined it would have looked like the tiniest leaf from way up there. As I looked out, I saw so many new, unique and interesting things all around me. I spotted colors even more beautiful than the ones I encountered that day I met that beautiful butterfly. Suddenly, I realized, she was right all along. I did become like her! I was a butterfly now!
Remembering the rejuvenating nectar she had talked about, I spotted a patch of flowers below and decided to taste them for myself. I fluttered below and buried my nose right in the center of a flower’s colorful, soft center. Taking a sip, I tasted the sweetest, cool liquid on my tongue. After having not eaten for ages, the satisfying nectar soothed my aching tummy and erased every memory of the bitter taste from before. “I’ve got to tell my brothers!” I thought to myself.
I quickly fluttered into the tree’s branches looking for the section of the tree I had once called home. I was surprised to find my brothers congregating around the tree trunk in the middle of the day. “They’re usually munching away on the branches’ leaves around this time,” I thought to myself. As I approached, they stood still, stunned, and stared at me as if I were a ghost.
“Don’t be afraid, guys! It’s me. Oliver! Your brother!”
“Oliver?” they whispered among themselves. “Oliver, it’s you! How can it be? What are you?”
“I’m a butterfly, guys! Remember, how I told you all about the wondrous thing I saw and you didn’t believe me? Well, now, here I am. It was rightâ€”I would become a butterfly just like it…and so will you! You will soon be like me, just wait!”
But they all frowned at me.
“Oh, Oliver, it’s our tummies. We feel like we have a tummy ache all the time. And we’ve become sluggish, with no motivation to crawl anywhere. The leaves we could once eat all day have become bland, even bitter, to us. What do we do? How can we ever become like you?”
“Don’t worry, my brothers! I experienced all that too. Soon you will fall asleep and wake up to find yourself just like me. Just a little while longer. Don’t fret!”
“Oh, Oliver, we’re sorry for not believing you sooner. We believe now…”
Just as they mumbled those words, my brothers fell fast asleep, and slowly, I could see a hard layer of skin developing around them. I realized that that must have been why I couldn’t moveâ€”a shell had formed around me to help my wings develop.
“It’s only a matter of time,” I thought to myself. “They sure will be sore when they wake up, but it will all be worth it. They have no idea what a wonderful transformation they’re going to experience.”
I fluttered away and explored the garden, in which my tree of a home had been planted. I never knew such wonderful things existed in this garden that extended for what truly seemed like milesâ€”far more vast than the miles of branches and leaves I had known before. I could hardly believe my eyes at all the beautiful things around me.
I met other butterflies around the garden too. Together, we sipped away at different flowers we found and enjoyed sweet conversation. “I can’t wait for you to meet my brothers,” I would tell my new friends, “They hardly know what adventures are in store for them. Not even I could have imagined how wonderful this life would be and now, I finally see it with my own eyes!”
“But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.” (Phil. 3:20-21, The Message)
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