One of the many grasses growing on our path
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Many a caterpillar has emerged (or is in the process of emerging) into a butterfly right about now in South Haven. I caught this beautiful one enjoying the "pinks" at the base of our sign. Butterflies have always inspired me. I think, in part, I'm inspired by their seemingly endless patience. They spin their magic chrysalis and let time and life transform them, in what seems like an eternity to anyone who has captured a caterpillar and watched the process unfold. But once that transformation happens, it's hard to imagine a more beautiful creature than a butterfly.
Several years ago, a student brought in a monarch caterpillar that spun her chrysalis in our classroom over the first few days of school. My students checked on her endlessly. . . before school, during recess, and various times throughout the day. As the weeks progressed the chrysalis became clearer and we started to actually see the orange wings through its tight hanging home. And then one day it happened. Right in the middle of a math lesson, someone yelled out, "It moved!! The chrysalis moved!!!" We all turned our eyes on the magic and slowly, really very slowly we watched the butterfly emerge. It was amazing. My students watched with the utmost attention. (For as much work as I'd put into my math lesson, I have no memory of the subject matter or objective for that day but the emergence of the butterfly will always be etched into my mind.) We had housed the chrysalis in a large mason jar. As a group, we decided to take the lid off so that the butterfly could get as much fresh air as possible. It appeared that she was tired from the experience and it took her awhile to dry off and start moving her wings. We returned to our work and checked in on her from time to time that day. Eventually she gathered strength and flew out of the jar. We decided to let her be free in our room. We brought in bouquets of flowers and we were all extra careful where we stepped and how loud we talked. And then, after a week or so of living with our friend, we captured her once more and took her out to our front lawn and released her.
Funny, I miss her still to this day. She brought us all a simple wonder, awe and joy. She taught me that sometimes it takes abundant patience and perseverance to grow. In the end, if we are true to who we are and patient with ourselves, there is beauty and transformation underway within each of us. We don't undergo a physical metamorphosis, but there are always times in our lives that invite true transformation and beauty. Each student that I will meet in the days ahead is somewhere along the way to becoming the beauty that has always been there, the beauty that they are and the beauty that they will become. I hope that I can find the patience, simple wonder and joy in them as we learn, grow and transform this school year. That's life.