butterfly emerging from chrysalis

Amos’ Bread: The Journey of Lent

by Amos Smith

In Thomas Keating’s book, Intimacy with God, he relays this story:  A brilliant French geneticist mixed the genes of two butterflies to create a new strand with more spectacular design and color than anyone had ever seen.

After much anticipation, the genetically engineered butterfly emerged from the cocoon. The lab technicians clapped and marveled. The press was notified and soon reporters and photographers loped into the lab. All eyes were on the butterfly as it skirmished with the cocoon. Soon the butterfly’s skirmish became an all-out spasmodic struggle for freedom. The butterfly gathered its energy then frantically fluttered and convulsed. Then it rested and tried again, losing energy each time.

After thirty-five minutes of this reporters became impatient, and two left the lab.

The drawn out struggle seemed futile. Something had to be done. “Surely just a little help to free the butterfly from the cocoon won’t do any harm” the geneticist thought. So, with his carefully poised scalpel he made two small incisions between the wings and the cocoon.

The butterfly was finally free.

Everyone cheered.

After two minutes the room hushed.

The butterfly attempted to fly to no avail.

The geneticist tried to assist its flight. He gently nudged it off the edge of a short table. It flopped to the ground.


People began to realize that the butterfly wasn’t going to fly. It was a dud. It didn’t accomplish what it was made for: flight.

The butterfly failed to fly because its struggle was cut short. Only a full six hours of death-defying struggle can prepare the newly formed body and wings for flight. Anything less won’t do.

I believe that through struggle and suffering God prepares us for transformation. This is what the journey of Lent is all about.