St John 12: 14
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
I learnt the wonders of the butterfly life cycle as a child. An egg hatches into a caterpillar, which eats, grows and sheds successive skins, until the final moult reveals a chrysalis. In good time, a butterfly will emerge, but first the contents are transformed in an organic process of deconstruction and reconstruction. Revealing a living transformation, an act of wonder in a hidden, silent time.
I learnt the stories of Jesus as a child, from birth to adulthood and Galilean days before journeying to Jerusalem. On one Sunday we’d sing songs with waving palm branches, the next, songs with hallelujahs. I remember making a miniature Easter garden, with a cross and tomb bedecked by primroses (no butterflies). Portraying a living transformation, an act of wonder in a hidden, silent time.
The artist Sieger Koeder knows of butterflies and telling the stories of Jesus. Through Chrysalis, Koeder shines light on a hidden mystery of faith. Set in an enveloping tomb, Christ’s cold, nail-bloodied body, is shrouded within translucent graveclothes. Yet his veiled face, which seems warm with the blood of the living, is semi-illuminated with light, breaking from within or beyond the stone. Envisioning a living transformation, an act of wonder in a hidden, silent time.
No longer a child, I find myself wondering about life. There can be new ventures, new hopes, with growth and shedding, but sometimes we experience disappointment or heartache, or even question why we bothered. When hope is dashed, we may wonder, is this it? Or is this when we’re trapped in a caterpillar mindset, seeing only a chrysalis ahead, entombed, stone-like?
Koeder’s painting points beyond the tombs that entrap, to a holy transformation, an act of wonder, by Jesus in one time, for all, through all time. For if love is cocooned, then as inevitably as dawn follows dusk, love will break through. There will be glory days.
A Haiku-form Prayer
When life closes in,
help me pause in holy hope,
for butterfly days.
Author: David Wiggs
I am the webmaster for Purley United Reformed Church and have been involved with the church since my late teens. I work in Croydon and live in Caterham.