Chris and I have been rearing Monarch Butterfly larvae this summer. They were shipped to us as tiny worms. We’re now waiting for adult butterflies to emerge from their chrysalises. Along the way, we have fed the growing creatures with fresh, home-grown milkweed plants, and cleaned their cages regularly. As we have observed the worm-babies, these ideas have presented themselves:
“I am a worm and no man.”
The Psalmist uses this analogy to describe his deservedly low estate. This part of Psalm 22:6 has been a favorite Scripture—a brain-worm—for most of my life. Not a bad way to start any exercise of self-awareness, especially if I’m heading toward self-glorification.
Caterpillars move deliberately, heading assuredly toward safety and food—qualities of life that are always important. The older I get, the more I realize how often quick reactions or judgments turn out to be wrong.
Hiding is okay.
Monarch larvae instinctively seek hiding places. In my later years, I try to avoid predators (scammers, grifters, hackers), trying not to be an easy target for those who want to manipulate me.
Be grateful for what’s in front of you.
The caterpillars eat what’s right there—available daily from our providing hands. They seem content to chomp through their unremarkable food without gallivanting all over to find something better. My thankfulness can always begin with what’s here-and-now, provided by the grace of God. Including repetitively ordinary blessings.
It’s only a matter of time before I fly again.
If a chrysalis is like an actual or metaphorical grave, the Monarch’s emergence is always a symbol of new life, even of The Resurrection. I don’t ever want to think I’m trapped in this body or this stage in life.
I’m grateful that God continues to bless me as a man and no worm!
Monarch Rearing Kits
You can order the materials necessary for raising Monarch butterflies—including the larvae and a temporary food paste—from Monarch Watch. Visit https://www.monarchwatch.org/ and click on Rearing Monarchs. The site offers a wealth of information about this endangered species.
You’ll need a fairly large supply of milkweed plants to feed your growing Monarch caterpillars. The Monarch Watch site also includes instructions how/when to purchase this necessary resource. Milkweed can be difficult to grow from seed, and fully mature plants can be costly. Once established, though, milkweed is hardy, even invasive. (It reproduces by seed and rhizomes.) Another option: Getting seed pods (Fall) or rooted young plants (Spring) from a neighbor.
The Worm Metaphor
In some interpretations, the “Crimson worm” in Psalm 22 is thought to symbolize Christ. (When crushed, the coccus ilicis grub yields a scarlet, blood-like substance used as a dye in Biblical times.) Another possibility: Because large quantities of these bugs are pulverized to make an expensive coloring available only to the very rich, these worms could also represent the ways in which wealthy and powerful people destroy those who are poor.