In spring the butterflies emerge from the cocoons into which they went, as caterpillars, about a week before. If you were to open a cocoon midway through that week, you would find it filled with whitish mush. I do not recommend this, because it kills the butterfly-to-be. Still, I recall as a child that I did once open a cocoon. The mush inside is not a caterpillar, nor is it a butterfly, nor is it some in-between half-caterpillar-half-butterfly. There is, in fact, no recognizable portion of anything alive. It’s just goo. It’s utterly unpromising.

You might have thought that some logical and orderly transition was going on inside that cocoon: that the caterpillar’s body was becoming sleek and segmented and wings were sprouting out of its back. But no. The caterpillar dissolves away entirely into goo. It wonders, perhaps, in some dim gooey way, whether it should have remained a caterpillar.

From the undifferentiated goo, a butterfly begins to form. If it is logical and orderly, its logic and order are an invisible mystery. Transformation requires this courage: to let what you have been melt into a sticky puddle. To get from the caterpillar that we now are to the butterfly that we may become sometimes requires a goo phase: some time spent being nothing at all except a mushy mess. It is a rare thing to deliberately choose to be goo for a while. More often, we simply find that through no power of our own the life we have known has dissolved, and we along with it have become undefined and shapeless: an indeterminate mystery of limitless possibility.

In the goo, something is cooking, even though it seems that nothing is happening. The molecules are rearranging themselves, following a DNA recipe far beyond the ken of caterpillar or butterfly. We cannot understand, but only trust. Out of the opaque mysterious soup, a new life is forming. Have faith.