Staff Blogs: Paula’s Perspectives, March 2021


“Caterpillars to butterflies, over and over again.” – Beatrice Robinson, at age 9 (now 15!)

Every time I ponder the message of emergence, of transformation, of development…I hear this quote ringing in my head. I have often spoken about the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to butterfly, and about being in each stage of transformation, and how they are all so important.

But just as often, I am reminded that we humans tend to think linearly. As if it goes step 1, step 2, step 3 and then DONE. But this is not the case. Sure, we begin our lives as infants, and grow to teens then adults, then elders. And surely there is an end to that. Yet, we often forget about all that happens along the way. In each of the stages of our lives, we also transform, shift and change, regress and progress. Caterpillars to butterflies, over and over again.

That message, first given to me by a 9-year-old during her sermon (at the UU congregation I helped start in Little Rock) feels so long ago. 6 years later, it still calls on me repeatedly. And just the notion that sweet Bee and her 9-year old self was aware of such emergence was something I loved. The idea that she was communicating it with a congregation of multiple generations so clearly was something I loved. But what I loved the most is that the message is not only universal, it is also infinite. It is for everyone, for all times, for all things.

Emergence – emerging – is a thing that keeps happening. And all the occurrences in our lives have the virtue of being a part of our emerging.

When I met with my Lifespan Faith Engagement (LFE) Team last month, we talked about how amazing it is that the classes, worship services, social justice activities, small group ministries, and events all share a continuity. Beyond just the monthly theme, UUCCH is clearly beginning to take up a culture of emergence. A place where all the things we do, in all the places we do them, are a part of our congregational connection.

As your Director of Lifespan Faith Engagement, I describe church connection as a triangle that looks like this:

At one point, membership – the place where we build relationship, feel belonging, and experience community. At the second point, leadership/service – the place where you give back to the community, and engage in its future. And the last point, faith engagement – where you learn and develop, and experience your ever-emerging UU identity. It is all of these, for all of the people, at all of the times.

So when someone says to me, “I can’t take that class because I have a committee or team meeting;” or, “I will miss that meeting because I’ll be helping with worship that week;” or “I can’t be there because I need to visit with someone”…I might say back, “You aren’t missing anything. You’re doing exactly what you need to be doing! And it’s ALL a part of your faith development.”

Each and all of these are important pieces of who you are- as a member, as a leader in service, as a student of Faith Engagement. And how you engage in each of these will ebb and flow, will change over time. You are emerging. The congregation is emerging. Caterpillars to butterflies, over and over again.

2 Responses to “Staff Blogs: Paula’s Perspectives, March 2021

  1. Thank ~ you Paula, for sharing what Beatrice said.
    I am always moved by what thoughts and feelings that children share with us.. They really do have many *pearls of wisdom* in their young age.

    In my reading articles about caterpillars and butterflies, who I find Sooo very fascinating..
    I’d like to share these two things..
    One is a question that was raised by 5-year old Evan, who asked “Do butterflies remember being a caterpillar?” and, I wonder.. do they? As the article goes on to say, it is not known whether a butterfly actually remembers being a caterpillar, but some studies have illustrated that when butterflies presented with a situation that their once caterpillar-stage was presented with, that they avoided, (found to be ‘distasteful’), the butterfly behaved similarly, towards that same situation..
    The other fascinating thing, is that when the caterpillar has increased in size, to the Instar phase, its butterfly wings are actually developed, and are right beneath the caterpillar’s skin. Though it’s not visible to the human eye, these amazing wings are ready, and in waiting mode, for when the caterpillar has created it’s chrysalis, to emerge as the full-fledged butterfly that it was designed to become.

    With signs of Spring, the emerging of the Spring bulbs pushing their stems through the softened, damp earth, and presenting their beautiful petaled flowers, they bring a feeling of hope! The renewal of life.. and the seasons going round and round.. like clockwork.

    As I have many memories from my childhood, and beyond, I find myself reflecting back on the many paths that I meandered along, through the years.. in figuring out Who I am, what I Valued.. what really mattered.. While navigating the day-to-day, making observations, developing my own ideas and opinions about everything around me,
    it became evident, and important to me, to be able to find, and to connect with others with similar values.
    Being and becoming part of a community, being involved in meaningful work and projects, being a part of something that was beyond my own personal needs, was a part of emerging.. from
    ‘My’ needs, to ‘Your’ needs, to the ‘Earth’s’ needs, to the ‘people’ of the world’s needs.

    I appreciate Our UUCCH church *community!*
    It is a sacred community.. it’s a place that provides a multitude of potential opportunities for all of us to learn, grow and benefit. Like the caterpillar who emerges into a winged~creature, a beautiful creature! each phase of growth, and life, has
    its own unique beauty, mystery and awe.

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