Once upon a time there was a little caterpillar who did not want to do what other caterpillars did: eat all day. Instead she wanted to see and experience the beauty of the world around her. Often you could see her sitting on the highest leaves of the tree looking at the ever-changing landscape. She loved watching all the creatures in the forest and took delight in whenever one took time to talk to her. But she didn’t get much eating done and consequently was much smaller than her peers.
The other caterpillars were too busy eating to notice. One day Grandmother Bear walked by and right away saw the scrawny caterpillar sitting on a leaf looking out at the world. She asked the caterpillar why she wasn’t eating like all the other caterpillars. “Are you sick? ” she asked. “Is this why you don’t eat as much as the others? The little caterpillar shook her head. “No!” she replied and explained that she just didn’t think all the hard work of finding food and eating constantly was what life was all about. She wanted to just experience the beauty of the forest and the world around her. The wise old bear shook her big head when she heard this and said: “You know that you are a caterpillar and eating is what all caterpillars must do, so that they can evolve to the next stage of becoming a butterfly.” After she spoke the big old bear continued on her journey and disappeared behind the trees.
The scrawny caterpillar had listened carefully to what Grandmother Bear had told her, but didn’t really understand what it meant to be a butterfly or how to even get there. After the old bear had left she sat in silence for a long while and watched all the other caterpillars in their busyness and noticed how much bigger they were. She asked one closest to her if he was happy doing what he was doing. He looked at her with a puzzled look thinking about what she had asked. He then answered slowly speaking with his mouth still full: “I am doing what my inner nature is prompting me to do. I don’t really think about if it makes me happy. I just eat, enjoy being in the moment and trust that it is what I am meant to be doing right now”. Then he took another big bite and turned to crawl to a new leaf that was beckoning him.
The little caterpillar thought about his answer and wondered if she should try this. She could always go back to doing what she loved to do: sit in nature and just be. As she took a bite off the leaf she was sitting on, she allowed herself to tune into her own inner knowing. This started taking her to the best food to eat and soon she felt very full and ready for something….
As she listened closely to her own inner guidance she found a special place where she carefully began to spin a silk chrysalis around herself. From the outside it looked like she was resting, but on the inside many transformations started taking place. Then one day when she was done all the forming and changing on the inside another prompting came. It was time to come out of her chrysalis. Slowly but surely she emerged from her cocoon as a beautiful blue butterfly. Her wings were still soft from having been in the tight enclosure. But after a rest she felt the urge to move her wings for the very first time. Blood pumped into them and soon she was flapping them vigorously. She knew when she was ready to take flight. Something inside her just knew!
In that very moment Grandmother Bear magically appeared again walking down the trail towards her. She immediately saw the beautiful blue butterfly and showed no surprise when it spoke to her: “I want to thank you Grandmother Bear for taking the time to speak to me and telling me of my destiny. I didn’t know what you meant by what you said, but I did listen and now I understand.” She then gracefully spread her beautiful blue wings and lifted effortlessly off the branch she had been sitting on. Dancing joyfully around the bear’s head before flying off to the nearest flower she drank for the first time the sweet nectar of life and never questioned again her own inner knowing and allowed herself to be guided from one beautiful flower to the next, delighting in each of them and in just being herself.
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.