The Circus is Coming to Town

One of the things I looked forward to in elementary school was achieving a 5th-grade status. Besides being ‘upper classmen’ of elementary school, one of the privileges was that the entire class would go on a field-trip to Pittsburgh, PA, to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. The bus trip with the whole 5th grade was an adventure in itself, and there were lots of smiles and laughter as we all filtered onto the busses, chose our seatmates, juggled our coats and little bags that held a few dollars to get a treasure of remembrance from the circus in the city.

What a magical day it was! We sat close to one another in the Civic Arena with what seemed to be thousands of other kids from other schools and families in attendance. The excitement electrified the air, and simultaneous acts were happening all around the arena for the Three-Ring Events. I remember the wonder of watching the performers that were on the high wire act. How they balanced themselves was beyond me, as I sometimes tripped over my own feet at that age. The artists that swung on the little bars held with rope, called trapezes, were up so high that our necks began to hurt as we watched in amazement. High on the wires were men and women that were comfortable enough to make human pyramids. The ringmaster was going from one area featuring the high wire and trapeze artists, and then the spotlight would shine on another ringed stage with lions and lion-tamers. Then the spotlight would shine on the third ring with clowns running around with colored hair, big shoes, and trying to fit a dozen of them into little cars. There was so much liveliness and commotion for our ten-year-old brains to take in at the same time. Big elephants performed by balancing themselves on their hind legs or their front legs, and they even put all four of their feet onto a bit of stool! Ladies would climb onto the elephants’ backs and climb down and swing on their trunks. The lion tamers were equipped with whips and chairs and would show the training acts of the big, burly lions. Music was loud as the crowd was stunned by the sights and movements of the people up in the air. Everyone was astonished at the sheer size of the animals showboating their tricks and strange-looking people in the circus rings flamboyantly exhibiting their talents. It was, without a doubt, absolutely incredible!

We were allowed to roam around to the different booths set up with food and drinks and a wide variety of choices. The money each of us had wadded up in our little bags or pockets was minimal, so we had to practice our wise choices of what treasures we purchased. What a vast selection of keepsakes that one could buy! There were swords, cap guns, pictures taken of women swinging on the elephant’s trunk, clowns, lion knick-knacks, trading cards, magician capes, whistles, and almost anything else you could think of to take home as a great remembrance of our day at the circus. As I was browsing around, picking up different things, and imagining them on display in my bedroom at home, I could only imagine looking at my choice and remember my magical day for years, or maybe even for the rest of my life.

There it was! After careful consideration, I had decided what to bring home that would capture every moment of our adventure of the Three Ring Circus. A live chameleon would safely be under my care probably for the rest of my days. It fascinated me because it was a special kind of reptile or lizard that would change color based upon its surroundings. I don’t know what attracted me to that lovely lizard, but I knew it was something that I needed to have. Everybody that knows me knows that I’m somewhat of a girly girl and played with an array of Barbie Dolls and was somewhat artsy with knitting and crocheting and making potholders. Lizards weren’t even on my radar, but my lovely chameleon wooed me.

As I travel through my life, sometimes I want to blend in and become part of my surroundings. It’s easy to melt into what our friends are doing or get swept up in different cultures and easily integrate into current fads and activities that will make us feel as though we belong. Music is one thing that touches all of us, and it can transport us to a different time and place and bring out emotions of love and peacefulness with others. We become like chameleons because we become transformed and absorbed into the groups that we’re around.

There are other things that make us want to be like chameleons and just blend in with our surroundings because it would be easier, or because of its comfortable to be with the familiar. What does your chameleon costume look like right now? At different times in my life, my self-confidence spoke more quietly in my head than it needed to and prevented me from being all that I could be.

I read a story many years ago in a psychology magazine about a little caterpillar. It goes like this:

“Some time ago, a small caterpillar was born. With some difficulty it crawled on the ground from one place to another. Until one day, tired of crawling, it decided to climb a tree. But not just any tree, it chose to climb a tree with a large trunk and dewy leaves. A tree it had played under for years.

The caterpillar climbed and climbed, but then it slipped, fell and could not move forward. But it kept working and step by step, little by little it managed to climb. It came to a branch it could see the whole valley from. The views were wonderful. It could see other animals, the blue sky with white cotton clouds and, on the horizon, a great sea painted an intense blue. From that branch the caterpillar breathed in peace.

It sat there, observing the world around it, and felt that life was too beautiful to not transform with it. While the caterpillar was tired and, at the same time, grateful for its life as a caterpillar, it knew that the time had come to become something else. The caterpillar fell asleep, feeling a great peace and thinking about how its destiny was to be something more than a simple caterpillar. It slept and slept, making a chrysalis grow around it, a shell that kept the peace there long enough to become another being. When it awoke it felt trapped in a heavy shell that didn’t allow it to move. It felt something strange had grown on its back. With effort, it moved what looked like huge blue wings and the shell broke.

The caterpillar was no longer a caterpillar, it was a blue butterfly. However, the caterpillar had been a caterpillar for so long that it didn’t realize it wasn’t a caterpillar anymore.

transformation from caterpillar to blue butterfly

The blue butterfly crawled down the tree using its little legs, even though it now had wings. It carried the weight of those big blue wings, a weight that consumed its strength.

The blue butterfly moved using its legs as it had always done, believing itself to be a caterpillar and continuing to live as if it were. But its wings didn’t allow him to move on the ground with as much agility as before. The butterfly that believed itself to still be a caterpillar didn’t understand why its life had become so hard. Tired of carrying the weight of its wings, it decided to return to the branch where it had transformed. This time, trying to climb the tree, moving forward was impossible.

A gust of wind or any other small unexpected occurrence pushed it backward. The butterfly that thought it was still a caterpillar stood still and looked up at that branch that seemed so far away. Then it began to cry, desperate.

Upon hearing its cry, a beautiful, wise white butterfly approached it. The white butterfly perched on a flower and for a while it looked at the blue butterfly without saying anything. When the blue butterfly’s crying subsided, the white butterfly said “What happened?” “I can’t climb up that branch. Before, even though it was hard, I could do it.” “But if you can’t climb up that branch … maybe you can fly to it.”

The blue butterfly that thought it was still a caterpillar looked strangely at the white butterfly and then looked at itself and its large, heavy wings. Just as on the day that it came out of his shell, it moved them hard and opened them.

They were so big and beautiful, a color of blue so intense that the transformed caterpillar got scared and quickly closed them again.

“You’re wearing down your legs by not using your wings,”  said the white butterfly, taking flight while opening its wise wings and flying away with elegance. The blue butterfly watched, amazed at each movement of the white butterfly, and reflected on the white butterfly’s words. At that moment, it began to understand that it was no longer a caterpillar, that perhaps those heavy wings could be useful.

The blue butterfly opened them again, and this time kept them open. It closed its eyes and felt the wind caressing them. It felt that those wings were now part of it and accepted that it was no longer a caterpillar, so it could not continue to live as such, crawling on the ground.

Then it opened its wings wider and wider, each time becoming more butterfly and less caterpillar. It observed the beautiful, almost magical blue of its wings. Soon it realized it was flying, it was slowly moving towards the branch.

Then it opened its wings wider and wider, each time becoming more butterfly and less caterpillar. It observed the beautiful, almost magical blue of its wings. Soon it realized it was flying, it was slowly moving towards the branch.

Flying was much easier than dragging its legs, although it still had to perfect its technique. It discovered that its fear of flying hadn’t allowed it to accept who he really was, a caterpillar transformed into a blue butterfly.

This tale of transformation is the story of a butterfly that thought it was still a caterpillar. It’s the story of the beautiful blue butterfly, with strong wings, able to fly against the current, in the middle of storms and powerful winds.

The blue butterfly had big, beautiful, blue wings. A blue of many different shades, from the color of the lightest sky to the angriest sea. But it didn’t even know.

It took some time to accept and discover what its wings were for and how it could live from then on. For this, it needed some help. Sometimes others see our strengths more clearly than we do by ourselves.”

I think of this story of the caterpillar often, and just like my prized chameleon, it could not accept or realize who it was meant to be. Are you hiding behind something that is preventing you from being transformed into who you were created to be? Do you realize that you can fly, but you’ve been wearing out your legs crawling because that’s what you’ve always done.

God created us to stand out, not to hide behind anything or pretend to be someone else. He made us in his own image and knit us individually ‘in our mother’s womb’ as it tells us in Psalm 139.

Romans 8:29 reminds us that we are being “conformed to the image of his Son.” Jesus is the perfect representative of the image of God, and we are being made like Him. If we are made like Him, we are to reflect his peace, patience, kindness, and thoughtfulness to others. Romans 12:2 tells us “Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.”

It’s hard to step away from the camouflage of what is safe or what is familiar. Also, it’s challenging to try to wiggle ourselves out of that swaddling cocoon, but God’s Holy Spirit will allow us to fly on eagle wings and will take us to places that we could never imagine if we are only willing to go along for the ride!

Be Blessed to be a Blessing to Others,

Candy

Published by Candy Morgans

Being recently retired from the Healthcare Industry, and the spouse of a retired Methodist Minister, I find some time on my hands, and a strong desire to share experiences and develop relationships with others. God is my driving force, and I have humor and joy in my heart.

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