Thursday, April 23, 2009

"after all, you're still you..."

"...Time changes everything
One truth always stays the same
You're still you
After all
You're still you..."
Josh Groban
You're Still You"

I was talking to a friend the other day about a butterfly's journey from caterpillar to winged beauty.  I shared with her that the caterpillar sheds her entire skin four times before she finally enters the chrysalis. Four complete surrenderings of all she knows of herself and still the real transformation hasn't even begun to happen.  

 I have been thinking about this -- alot.  Each time she loses every inch of her outward being.

And each time she must think, "Whew, this was BIG!!  I am brand new -- I am in a completely new skin."  

 But what she doesn't realize is, that this shedding of her entire outer layer is nothing compared to what will happen once she enters the chrysalis of her own making.  That's the real metamorphosis -- the dissolution of her entire being into a black soupy liquid from which will emerge as a butterfly. 

But she has no known frame-of-reference for this "becoming." 

She doesn't just go from being a fuzzy caterpillar to a skinnier, sleeker caterpillar that sprouts beautiful diaphanous wings. She completely dissolves. 

I shared with my friend that - of late - I had become a bit obsessed with the spiritual implications of this necessary "soup" stage in the butterfly's metamorphosis.  I couldn't stop thinking: What was still present during this soup stage?  What is left of the original?  

 And what did that original being know - or think - during this time of "soup"?  Was she even aware that there was nothing left of the old form?  Or was she oblivious of the changes to her form - in light of the "sanctuary space" she was occupying? 

Questions, questions, questions -- thank goodness I am most at home in the space of the question, eh!  

 Since that earlier conversation, my friend had also begun pondering these concepts and she said that Josh Groban's song "You're Still You"  had come to mind as inspiration.   Wow!  

It was a perfectly wonderful answer for me, too. 

No matter what transformational shifts we seem to go through in our lives, we are never less that who we are, who always have been, and ever will be.  Our spiritual essence -- the radiant Soul "soup" of our identity as the reflection of the Great I AM -- a child of God, the All-in-allness of God expressed as individual humanity. This, I believe, is the fundamental substance of our being that never changes. 

 It all leaves me speechless with wonder and in awe of His majesty.

These are concepts I have been thinking about for a very long time. And I don't think I am anywhere near the end of mining the butterfly's metamorphosis for spiritual lessons.  

But, I am finding that just the title of Groban's "You're Still You" brings me great peace.  It is inciting an even deeper stirring within.  I wonder if it doesn't give us a glimpse into what is.   Perhaps even a deeper spiritual centering.  A clearer lens on our indwelling core identity -- one that is untouched by changes in form, surroundings, or self-referencing points.  Self-stories that make us feel safe and securely hooked into a familiar reality.

The following is a poem I have been writing for some time. I was finally led to put it down on paper during a recent workshop I participated in with some extraordinary spiritual thinkers.  It continues to morph, and evolve, as insights unfold.   

 I offer it with a profound love for the butterfly, and her willingness to enter the chrysalis of faith.  I am humbled by her as she yields to the hand of her Maker -- an Artist who paints diaphanous wings of beauty -- from soup.  I simply love this God of ours!!

"You're still you...after all...You're still you"

Does it hurt...
     this becoming?

four times
she sheds a past she'd come to own
does she wonder
     "will it ever end?"

if she knew of the
dissolving that would follow...
the melting of the only
          "ego" she had ever known

would she plead
"take this cup"
and then surrender
all to...
               "Thy will be done..."
do butterflies
when wings burst  from soup
       that was once
          tight skin she thought defined her

Does the call
     to fly
terrify one
     who, until the moment of her release
          had only crawled with
     all feet firmly planted on
 her...was solid ground
hanging in
     the dark chrysalis
          does she realize
     that her
     shakes leaves and branch and stem
the entire world of ants living on the edge
     busy with their scurried gathering

I asked her once
     she said,
          "I can't remember
               when I was not a butterfly..."

Mary Baker Eddy must have lived in the space of the butterfly, for her to understand the faith it takes to be able to yield to the dissolution of the ego -- for the promise of wings.  I love that she wrote:

"Faith is higher and more spiritual than belief. It is a chrysalis state of human thought, in which spiritual evidence, contradicting the testimony of material sense, begins to appear, and Truth, the ever-present, is becoming understood."

The Truth of who we are is ever-present.  The butterfly must have great faith in this promise of eternal self-awareness to be able to surrender all outward evidence of her identity to the spiritual evidence of conscious being.  There is still so much to learn from her.  I sit at the butterfly's feet waiting for the next lesson...


A frequent reader and long-time follower of this blog reminded me that I had posted a butterfly poem three years ago.  Here is the link to it: "
Chrysalis Surrender" I had forgotten how long this fascination with butteryfly consciousness had been inhabiting my heart. 

with Love,


two of my dear friends have posts on their blogs that are directly related to this discussion...
Travis Thomas and Duncan on their names to go to these posts...with Love,


  1. Anonymous7:29 AM

    Thank you!
    Such a wonderful poem, only a heart could
    convey such flight and tender truth.
    Let us lift our wings!
    Thanks for the poem -dear open realization-

  2. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Did you see Travis Thomas' wonderful post of very similar vein on the butterfly's transformation? Prior to that, I don't recall ever knowing their were four complete releases of body before the wings appeared. Such a meaty metaphysical morsel to chew on! Glad to hear your thoughts as well.

  3. I haven't seen Travis' post, but he was there when I read this poem to a class the day after I wrote it...i will love to explore his insights as Mind!!!

  4. A frequent reader and long-time follower of this blog reminded me that I had posted a butterfly poem three years ago...if you want to see this November 14, 2006 post you can go to the pull down menu below my profile on the right you can find it...I had forgotten how persistent this fascination with butteryfly consciousness had been in inhabiting my heart....I hope you find it helpful...with Love,
    Kate xoxo

  5. Anonymous1:46 PM

    I was up in the middle of the night, not able to sleep, and I found your blog and poem about the butterfly. I was so moved. It is all I can think about as I prepare for my sunday school class. I also wanted to share with you an experience I had about 5 min. after my husband passed away.

    A friend of mine and I were standing outside of the hospital on a beautiful sunny afternoon. A huge black butterfly ( my husband loved everything black) came to me and fluttered in front of my face for a few seconds and then landed on my left shoulder. (his daughter has a butterfly tattoo on her left shoulder). After a few seconds, it fluttered in front of my face again and just poofed didn't fly away. It simply vanished.

    My friend thought she was seeing things. I understood the message....I am not a body....I am free. (hymn 136 was his favorite) I am soaring....I see....That happened in May.

    On Thanksgiving [across the country in a distant state], my son, daughter-in-law, daughter and I went to church. As I was coming in I said to my daughter I feel [my husband's] presence. She (my daughter) silently prayed to feel it too.

    About half way into the service, a butterfly came from beneath my feet out of no where, and flew past the four of us only. It then landed on the window and flapped it's wings until the end of the service.

    ...the last sighting, although I've had plenty, is the most amazing....out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the Falkland Islands and Buenos Aires where there is no land mass or hasn't been any sighted for days, a butterfly comes to our balcony when we are sitting out there and visits with us for a while. Where it could have come from, to human sense, I have no clue. There was only ocean. But the message is that there is only life everlasting....continuing to transform and grow and live according to the grace of God. No limits of any kind..

    I just thought you would like to know why your writings brought so much joy and comfort and love to my moment....Thank you for sharing--i'm planning to go back and read it again and again. I am so grateful for you, and your awareness...I see you.

    so much love and gratitude.

  6. I love your poem's ending--"I can't remember when I was not a butterfly." The call to fly doesn't terrify her, but feels natural and right. She has no mental ties to the past holding her down, keeping her from flying. She fully embraces and enjoys her new state without looking back, without doubts. She completely lives in the glorious moment...perfectly and immediately comfortable in her new skin.

  7. thanks Maria...I think this is exactly how she must feel...perfectly and immediately comfortable in her new skin...fluttering high longer earthbound...just earth blessed and blessing...grateful for soil that holds the roots of flowers she will light upon, and making a contribution as she gathers pollen and redistributes its gifts...she is now both transcendent AND purposeful...ahhh...