Caterpillar Dreaming Butterfly
by: Maraleen Manos-Jones

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You all know that a caterpillar eats its way out of its egg, and then starts eating the leaves of its host plant. It is so hungry that it eats all the time until it grows too big for its old skin. Each of the four or five times that it sheds its old skin, it becomes a little larger and eats even more, until one day, it cannot eat another bite of leaf. It hangs upside down before completely changing. It does a special dance of metamorphosis, wriggling out of its caterpillar skin. Its skin unzips down its back, underneath is a chrysalis. A chrysalis is like a quiet house, a safe place for the caterpillar to grow into its true form.

Inside its chrysalis house, the caterpillar undergoes profound changes. Then, one day, a butterfly emerges with a fat body and little wings. Quickly, it pumps its body so the fluid goes into and fills out its wings. Only fifteen minutes later, a beautiful butterfly is hanging onto a branch, letting its full sized wings dry.

A careful observer can see that some butterflies fly immediately and seem to play in the wind. Other butterflies seem shy and nervous. Most are really hungry and want to find flowers with delicious nectar to drink. And if this is a monarch butterfly, born in August or September in the United States or Canada, it will have a long journey. It will fly to Mexico for the winter, to a place it has never been before.

Do you think the caterpillar knows it is going to be a butterfly? Do you think it knows how hard it is to shed its skin and change into a chrysalis? Does it know it has to fly thousands of miles all the way to Mexico? Does it know how many friends and foes it will meet along the way? Does it know about all the challenges it will have to face? Do you think it is ever afraid, scared of the unknown?

Do you sometimes feel like a caterpillar? Do you have a dream of what you might be someday? Do you ever want to be quiet and just be inside yourself? Do you want to fly? Do you want to make our beautiful world a better place? Do you want to make your dreams come true?

There is a wonderful story about a caterpillar dreaming of becoming a butterfly that comes from Africa, a place of many beautiful butterflies.

Two caterpillars in West Africa were wandering through the tall grass looking for their favorite leaves when a beautiful butterfly fluttered overhead. One caterpillar was amazed and in awe of the beautiful flying creature, while the other said that not for all the money in the world would it ever fly into the air like that. It was far too frightening. It felt that it belonged on the ground, safe and secure, with plenty of food, and that was where it was going to stay.

The first caterpillar felt something stir in its heart when it saw the butterfly. It had an inner feeling that crawling on the ground was not its true nature. One day it would be up there, too, flying with the birds and butterflies.

After some time of crawling and eating and eating and wishing and hoping, the first caterpillar changed into a chrysalis and became very quiet, undergoing profound changes. It finally emerged a beautiful butterfly with strong wings and many bright colors, as the caterpillar had dreamed all its life. But the other one stayed as it was, a caterpillar, crawling and eating leaves for the rest of its life because it never dared to dream or to know the meaning of its inner nature; it held onto what was familiar, what felt safe. It had no idea of its true self.

Only those who know their own true selves can soar like butterflies. It is not easy discovering our own true selves. It is not easy making our dreams come true. It is a challenge. We have to keep trying even though it’s difficult. We have to never give up. Then one day, we too, can find our wings, learn our true nature, and fly like a butterfly.