Butterflies and Hope

The other day I watched a video on the life cycle of butterflies with my six year old daughter, Adeline. I was reminded just how amazingly mysterious metamorphosis really is.

Curious, I did some research to find out how science explains this process. Turns out there’s some debate.

In an interview with NPR, biologist Bernd Heinrich, contended that one animal (the caterpillar) is reincarnated into another animal (the butterfly). As he put it, “The radical change that occurs, does indeed arguably involve death followed by reincarnation… the adult forms of these insects are actually new organisms.”

Yet others, like Ferris Jabr, tell us something else is happening. In Scientific America he describes the process of metamorphosis as a caterpillar digesting itself and then maturing into a butterfly by activating certain previously unused cells. He writes:

First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on.

Did you get all that? Yeah me neither.

But here’s what I did get.  Whether through “reincarnation”, or “imaginal discs” there is something still kind of magical about the whole thing.

And this gives me hope.

Hope in a God who creates moments that are fun, magical, and mysterious. Moments that display his art, his work, for all to see, yet will largely go unnoticed. Moments that are just for his enjoyment.

Hope in his creation. That there is still so much more to be explored. And there is still so much more worth exploring. Hope that there are so many more magical moments to be discovered.

Hope that there are still things worth staring at. That there are moments worth watching over and over again. That there are still simple creations to marvel at, because their wonder never goes away.

In some strange way watching a video on the life cycle of butterflies with my six year old daughter gives me hope.

I hope it gives you hope too!

Here’s the video, enjoy!


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