a Barak & Sheba Article

The Lessons of the Butterfly...
Tuesday Mar 11, 2014

Throughout my life, I have heard, read and told this story over and over... My spiritual beliefs are widely varied, but mainly come from my mixed Native and Hebrew heritage. So much of my ethos I learned from my Grandfather, who was wise in the ways of nature. He frequently wove (or recounted) tales such as this, that contain teachings that work themselves deep into the psyche of open hearted ones - young and old.

This is one of the stories that has remained with me. For the sake of friend, I went searching for the right one. I was able to find this one, the closest version to what I recall, at Inspire21.com. Even these days, I frequently recount it for those who need to hear it's truth. If you have stumbled upon it, then perhaps you might need this also. After all, things are exactly where you need them to be, when you need them.


When he was a small boy, he had loved butterflies. Oh, not to net and mount them, but to wonder at their designs and habits.

Now a grown man with his first son to be born in a few weeks, he found himself once again fascinated with a cocoon. He had found it at the side of the park path. Somehow the twig had been knocked from the tree and the cocoon had survived undamaged and still woven to the branch.

As he had seen his mother do, he gently protected it by wrapping it in his handkerchief and carried it home. The cocoon found a temporary home in a wide-top mason jar with holes in the lid. The jar was placed on the mantle for easy viewing and protection from their curious cat who would delight in volleying the sticky silk between her paws.

The man watched. His wife's interest lasted only a moment, but he studied the silky envelope. Almost imperceptibly at first, the cocoon moved. He watched more closely and soon the cocoon was trembling with activity. Nothing else happened. The cocoon remained tightly glued to the twig and there was no sign of wings.

Finally the shaking became so intense, the man thought the butterfly would die from the struggle. He removed the lid on the jar, took a sharp pen knife from his desk drawer, and carefully made a tiny slit in the side of the cocoon. Almost immediately, one wing appeared and then outstretched the other. The butterfly was free!

It seemed to enjoy its freedom and walked along the edge of the mason jar and along the edge of the mantle. But it didn't fly. At first the man thought the wings needed time to dry, but time passed and still the butterfly did not take off.

The man was worried and called up his neighbor who taught high school science. He told the neighbor how he had found the cocoon, placed it in the mason jar, and the terrible trembling as the butterfly struggled to get out. When he described how he had carefully made a small slit in the cocoon, the teacher stopped him. "Oh, that is the reason. You see, the struggle is what gives the butterfly the strength to fly."

And so it is with us. Sometimes it's the struggles in life that strengthen us the most.

©2014 Barak & Brat Sheba

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