The four stages in the metamorphosis of butterflies are from egg to larva, then pupa and finally to adult butterfly. All of these are living unless perchance they run into someone with a net who collects them – a Lepidopterist, sometimes known as an ‘aurelian’! Lepidopterology is a branch of entomology (the study of insects) and comes from the Greek for ‘scale’ and ‘wing’. If you were a butterfly, you should avoid them for they are likely to stick a pin through you and mount you in their collection, after killing you humanely ... in a freezer! Whilst caterpillars have jaws and can bite back if threatened, a butterfly only has a long, curled proboscis, which is like a soft drinking straw—their jaws are gone and so is self-defence. Margaret Fountaine (1862–1940) was a Lepidopterist who collected more than 22 000 butterflies, published extensively and wrote a diary of more than a million words – that is a serious serial ‘Lepidopterist’. Imagine going through four life forms and the questions it might generate – who is the real me and will there be more to life after this next mutation?
- ‘No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new’ – Steve Jobs
- ‘Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying’ – Jean Cocteau
- ‘None of us, in our culture of comfort, know how to prepare ourselves for dying, but that's what we should do every day. Every single day, we die a thousand deaths’ – Joni Eareckson Tada
Some wealthy famous people have sought to stave off death even to the point of being frozen in death. Cryogenics is the art of freezing bodies by preserving a dead body with liquid nitrogen. Dr James Bedford, a professor at the University of California, was the first known person to be cryonically preserved January 12th 1967. Baseball star Ted Williams and his son John-Henry Williams are among others who have chosen this. The Pharaohs of Egypt wanted to be mummified as they thought that the physical body would be important in the next life – occasionally, living servants and animals were sealed with them in their pyramid tombs. Archaeology shows from the excavations of pyramids and other ancient graves that no one moves, unless grave robbers or wild animals get in. The lesson is that whilst you can preserve death, you cannot do the same with life. Even the most skilful Taxidermist can do no more than arrange the skin of a dead animal over a frame, stuff it with material and make it look like it did in life – the clue is that the animals never then blink!
- ‘If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live’ – Martin Luther King Jr
- ‘There's something about death that is comforting. The thought that you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate your life now’ – Angelina Jolie
- ‘While I thought that I was learning to live, I have been learning how to die’ - Leonardo da Vinci
Most of us have a lifetime to prepare for death, to look at it and to try to understand it. Given the choice, would you prefer to have a sudden unexpected death for which you and no one else was prepared, or do you think it better all round to have a bit of notice?! Just as we cannot deny the ageing process as we look into a mirror, neither can we ‘cheat death’ like some escapologist at the last minute and wriggle free. What can we learn from the Giver of Life about the reality of death?
- ‘Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being’ – Genesis 2:7
- ‘For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive’ – 1 Corinthians 15:22
- ‘We die only once, and then we are judged’ – Hebrews 9:27
- ‘So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit – 1 Corinthians 15:42-45
For the Christian, there is more to life than death. Why? Read this section of The Apostles Creed and ask yourself if you can prefix if with, ‘I believe’:
‘... in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead’
- ‘We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself’ – 2 Corinthians 4:14
- ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die’ – John 11:25
- ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it’ – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-25
Jesus has taken the sting out of death for all who trust in him. Only the One who has defeated Death by leaving an undeniable empty tomb can give these assurances. If you are wondering about your next metamorphosis or know someone else who is, take a step away from worry by watching C4L’s 9 minute video ‘The Final Frontier’: https://connect4life.org.uk/c4l-videos-4-life
On seeing a flitting butterfly overhead, one nervous caterpillar was heard to say to another: “You’ll never get me up in one of those things!” To put your mind at rest, all the butterflies in the photo are models so no butterfly was harmed! Next time you see a butterfly, ponder again that little phrase, ‘more to life’.
TAGS – mortuary, dying, future, escapology, extend, resurrection, coffin, swoon, hope