Two enormous oak trees stood tall on either side of the pavement right where the sidewalk forked. They grew towards one another forming a canopy, under which ran the path to our front door. As children, we sat beneath the great oaks in the fall, scooping acorns from the surrounding dirt.
In the summer, nests of caterpillars took up residence in their branches. We found them inching their way down tree trunks and scattered throughout the summer grasses. We used to collect as many caterpillars as we could in an afternoon, and then in the evening, we set them free. I always hoped one day I’d walk up the path and find all my former captives missing, and a flutter of butterflies taking their place.
We never saw them become butterflies, but I knew each caterpillar possessed the potential to become newly winged, a flicker of color in the summer light. When we learned of the stages of metamorphosis in school, I wished for the same kind of transformation–an unfolding of my potential where everything shut up tight in my bones would re-make itself into wings and I would learn to fly.
Over the past few years, I’ve watched a friend transform into the truest version of herself. I sat with her recently among a group of her closest friends, and she came to life in their circle. She laughed and told stories, and with each one I saw how perfectly she belongs in her new skin. She grew wings over the last few years, and they caught my eye as they flickered in the fading spring light.
I know her well enough to know her metamorphosis was not all beauty and delight. It came at a cost. It came from a place where she found herself bound so tight, she must either wither or break free. She chose to break free, and it brings me such joy to watch her live into her potential, to watch her becoming.
Metamorphosis takes time and patience. We must commit to the hard work of becoming, and some days this feels impossible and others it feels downright scary. Learning how to belong in our new skin requires truth telling. It requires us to yield to the Holy Spirit, to release our grip on the old, and embrace the new. It means leaning into the things that speak to us of our soul’s home, as we shed the old skin that keep us bound.
As I watch my friend learning how to spread her wings, I think of all her hard work–her shedding of the old, constricting skin. I think of oak trees and captives set free. I think of potential. I think of belonging inside my own skin, and I know both you and I can grow wings too. You and I will fly.