Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Transformation, Transfiguration, Metamorphosis

It's time for a change.  A real change.  A life-changing change.  In other words, it is time to be a different creature than you are.  This message is being given on behalf of caterpillars everywhere.  They are about to change into butterflies in a few weeks.  Right now, they are being dormant.  That means they are just hanging around (literally...most of them are hanging off of plants or the eaves of houses or someplace else trying to be as inconspicuous as possible) waiting until the right moment when they can reappear as something totally different.

A few years ago we have a couple fennel plants that we planted in the herb garden.  I wanted fennel to use in  cooking and thought it would be nice to grow fennel root.  One day there was a strange looking creature attached to one of the fennel plants.  He (or she) was multicolored and striped, had horns on its head, and was hanging around the plant looking like he or she was up to no good.  My first instinct was to clobber him/her but I decided to do a bit of research first and see what kind of thing it could be.  I learned that this creature was a caterpillar that, if left alone, would turn into a beautiful butterfly later on.  This one happened to have an affinity for fennel plants and loved to much on them to gain the strength for the big change that was to come.

We are somewhat like that strange creature.  We are all creatures and some of us are a bit strange (we have to admit it and accept it) but we are not what we will be once all of the transformation of life has taken place.  Each time I begin a funeral I read the words "Here and now, dear friends, we are God's children.  What we shall be have not yet been revealed; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."  Those words speak to the meaning of life for me.  It says to me that we are all on a journey in this life and we are changed as we travel along.  We are changed physically, of course, but we are changed in many other ways too--emotionally, spiritually, socially--we become different throughout our lives as we learn and grow and mature and think and relate to others who are also doing all this.  What we will be...eventually...has not be revealed to us, because we will be much different than when we began the journey of life.

Last week, my wife and I went with my mother to visit her only remaining sibling who lives in Florida.  We flew to Orlando and rented a car and went to the facility where my aunt lives.  My aunt has dementia and she cannot remember what she had for lunch that day as well as who her children are or why she is living where she lives now.  She is not very old by today's standards, only in her 70s, but she relates to the world as one who is near the end of life.  It is very sad to see this woman who was a vibrant, funny, loving person all her life now being told by others when it is time to get up in the morning, to have her meals, and to go to bed at night.  She cannot remember when to do any of those things unless someone coaches her.  Luckily, she lives in a very caring place where they are helping her cope with life.  She is not what she once was but she is not what she will be either.  The days to come may bring even more changes for her life.

We are all changing, day by day.  The changes may be wonderful or painful.  The changes may differ daily and some days may be memorable and others may be ones we want to forget.  We find meaning in life as we negotiate the days and do our best to make them all that they can be for us and others.  The life we live we live with others and our lives reflect our service that we give to others.  We are being changed daily.  The changes may be ones we embrace or ones we fight with all our might.  Either way, change is inevitable.  Knowing that we are not alone in the midst of change is the greatest comfort we may have.  That is what gives us the courage to face the future unafraid and look forward to whatever life may bring us.

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