The Man and the Butterfly


The Man and the Butterfly
Author Unknown

One day a small opening appeared on a cocoon. A man sat and waited by the butterfly as it struggled to get out of the cocoon, as it forced its body through the newly formed little hole. Then it seemed to stop making progress.

It appeared to the man to have gotten as far as it could. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped through the remaining cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, though it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand and would be able to support the body that would contract in time. But to his surprise, neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with the swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness did not understand was that the struggle was required for that butterfly to get through the tiny opening in its restrictive cocoon. This process was nature’s way of forcing the fluid from the body into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Here at ABAM, we are all transforming from caterpillars into butterflies. Each of us is trying to make our way out of our own cocoons. Just like no single caterpillar or butterfly is the same, neither are any two human transformations. We provide strength and encouragement for each other, but we also know the boundaries. It is essential to accept the fact that support and encouragement can go so far, but it is ultimately ourselves who have to break through the cocoon. No one else can do this for us. Yes, we may have to struggle and it may be unbearable at times. But it is through these struggles and hurts where we truly learn to fly.

Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Krystle Powell is a participant in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps working as the Jesuit Spiritual Care Associate at Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry in their Spiritual Care department.


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