40 Days of Transformation
There was a time when I needed my faith to be defined by exact certainty, dogma and proof-texts. My world was black and white, or at least that is the only way I could see it. Those days were necessary and good and I have a nostalgic place for them. However, I have found that way of being to be stifling to what the Spirit of God is doing in the real world and in creation.
For over 20 years I have been butterfly gardening and raising butterflies at home.
Much of my faith transformation was reinforced by what I observed in the garden. Christians believe God in Christ came to earth in a man we call Jesus. He showed us how to leave our old hellish lives behind and live in him, in Love. We are invited into the Kingdom of God today. That redemptive story, good news, or Gospel is told throughout our beautiful creation, even in butterflies.
It turns out, that when one is open to finding God in everything, he shows up everywhere. He showed up in my butterfly work in surprising ways and some of those are shared in my new 40-day study.
Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Every butterfly is different. Location, temperature, climate, season, year, species, food-sources, rainfall and other factors influence development time. However, we can generalize in warmer climates and say that a butterfly lives about 40 days. This includes about 10 days in each stage: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult.
Forty days is significant in scripture because it is used over and over as a mark for a time of tribulation, correction and growth. It can represent a season of testing involving hardship before a victory or restoration.
In the Hebrew scriptures (also called the Old Testament) Noah’s flood was 40 days and nights. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai and interceded for Israel for 40 days. Joshua’s spies cased out Canaan’s promised land for 40 days. Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before young David killed him with a sling-shot. Elijah ran from Jezebel, traveling 40 days to Mt. Horeb.
Jesus was temped for 40 days and nights in Matthew’s gospel and finally, there were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension in the book of Acts.
Whatever this means spiritually, may we be open to a new thing in our lives as we spend 40 days experiencing good news in Creation. The Christian calendar observes 40-days leading up to Easter Sunday as Lent. It is traditionally a time of prayer, fasting, and giving beginning on Ash Wednesday. I didn't grow up in a traditional church that observed this time. But, today I can appreciate the value of a sacred time where we take the ashes of our lives and see them transformed into something new. Everyone can relate to that.
What would you like to emerge from your life in the next 40 days?
What project, restoration of new version of you is possible to take flight?
Humans are wired to connect to nature. It inspires us, teaches us and calms us. What if you made an effort to connect to nature in the next 40 days and listen? Listen for guidance, reassurance and clarity on your life and path.
This could involve any form of plants, animals, fungi or anything else that captures you. Mix it up or go deep into one aspect. This could mean taking a nature walk every day or creating a new aquarium in your living-room. It could be stargazing, storm-chasing, rock-collecting, bird-watching, falcon-training or snow-shoeing. We know there are positive effects to being outdoors, so if that is possible, great! But, even if you are unable to go outside, there are ways to connect to nature indoors. Grow plants, raise puppies, cultivate an ant farm, or hang a bird-feeder outside your window.
Every day, as you engage in nature, ask what it is showing you. Be intentional about finding answers in the natural world and in creation. Pray if you are inclined. Observe.
My new book can guide you on a 40-day exploration of how the Good News is told in butterflies. It explains little known facts from egg through emergence and connects them to deeper meanings. No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, whether you are just starting or decades in, I trust you will be able to find your own meaningful takeaways and connect to God, or your Higher Power in your unique way. This adventure requires you to involve your mind, body and heart. Science kisses spirituality.
I don’t have all of the answers, and truly, the only one I fully claim is Love, as seen in Jesus. And, it turns out, that One is enough to live a full life of freedom, openness and joy in the littlest things in life. God’s good news is proclaimed everywhere we are listening, and how it can be told in butterflies is included in The Gospel in Butterflies.
God’s truths extend beyond our religious boundaries, well outside of Christianity. And, I believe God has ways of connecting to each and every one of his children, regardless of their upbringing, faith tradition, nationality, life-style, race or culture. If some of the language doesn’t resonate with you, pray to the Spirit, or the God of your understanding, to give you another word. Love is the central idea. Jesus wasn’t a Christian, so you are in good company if you don’t use that label for yourself.
God is Love.