Dear Friends,

“One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins itself a silk cocoon or molts into a shiny chrysalis. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly.”

I had a wonderful experience the other day. I joined with one of our nursery school classes as they were about to release their butterflies that they had watched go through this remarkable process. Carefully the butterflies were each placed on a leaf and we waited for them to flap their wings and fly away. But they didn’t move as the children anxiously watched. Finally the children returned to the playground while I remained behind to see what would become of the butterflies.

After a few minutes, sure enough, the butterflies began to gradually flap their wings and then began to fly. I went to the children and told them that I saw the butterflies fly away and that they were now very happy flying through the sky and landing on beautiful flowers.

But I wondered: Do butterflies need to “warm up” their wings before they can fly? And isn’t there something remarkable in the way in which a caterpillar goes through this transformation? And why is it that we feel so good when we see a butterfly?

And I thought about us humans. As we strive to “fly” from what we are to what we might become, isn’t it true that real change requires practice and effort? Yes, we all seek to realize our potential in life even as we realize that life itself is challenging and requires practice and determination; just as those butterflies displayed before my eyes.

Yes, there is an analogy to be drawn from this episode with the butterflies and all of us. As we strive to reach our full potential and discover what more we might become, let us remember the determination of the butterfly and realize that we too can yet fly higher.

As I think about how we have all become the people that we are today, I think of our mothers and the way in which they have nurtured us with their love and care (in their “cocoon”). Let us continue to soar even higher.

Shabbat shalom,   

         Rabbi David Greenberg