Your Paper-Thin Wings

At Saturday’s retreat on prayer, my retreatants and I reflected on how we are made for prayer. We are human; we are free; we are made for relationships. Prayer is our relationship with God. God is not “up there” while we are “down here.” Rather, God is with us, and he desires intimacy with us. Although prayer is indisputably challenging, we were made for it. It was meant to be.

To illustrate this point, I shared something I recently heard on a Radiolab podcast (with four kids in four schools this year, I do a lot of driving and a lot of podcasting!). Radiolab was investigating how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Do you know how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly?

A caterpillar does not simply grow wings inside its chrysalis. No, first the caterpillar dissolves into a goop. That’s right, goop. If you cut open a chrysalis during this stage, goop spills out! Somehow that goop becomes a butterfly.

But where do the wings come from?

As it turns out, the wings are already formed inside the caterpillar. Careful dissection of a prepupal caterpillar reveals paper-thin, transparent wings, tiny antennae and even legs! The structures of “butterfly-ness” exist just below the caterpillar's outer skin, waiting for transformation.

We were made for prayer, friends. The wings are already there, paper-thin, transparent, and a bit pent up. With God’s help, we can stretch out and fly.

I hope you will enjoy this Radiolab broadcast:  “Goo and You.”

  "Life history of the silk moth (Bombyx mori). A, caterpillar; B, pupa; C, imago; the cocoon is cut open to show the pupa lying within."   Source: J. Arthur Thomson, M.A., LL.D. Outlines of Zoology (New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company, 1916).

"Life history of the silk moth (Bombyx mori). A, caterpillar; B, pupa; C, imago; the cocoon is cut open to show the pupa lying within." Source: J. Arthur Thomson, M.A., LL.D. Outlines of Zoology (New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company, 1916).