Source: The Art of Transfiguration
“Make no mistake, our little silkworm must die in order to become a butterfly, but the place where it dies is Christ.” – St Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle
There is great spiritual hunger in our times. In fact there is far more spiritual hunger than most people realize. This is because our spiritual hunger is often awakened by an encounter with genuine spirituality. And as religion is increasingly forced out of the public sphere, we have to be very intentional to encounter the kind of wise voices that stir something within us.
I believe that people today have little use for a religion that does not bring about spiritual transformation. There are not a lot of cultural perks to belonging to a church these days. The challenge for us in the Church to speak to the existential state of people who are looking for peace and purpose, tied to a transcendent power. Do we offer the words of Eternal Life? I believe the Church most certainly does, but not all of Her members do…at least not all the time.
Transformation, transfiguration, metamorphosis – this is at the heart of the Christian faith. As St Paul would put it, becoming a new creation in Christ. And as St Teresa stated above, we are a worms destined to become butterflies!
No doubt many of us today feel this way. Something like a worm crawling through the mud, hoping they are not eaten a bird (I mean the spiritual birds of anxiety, rage, fear and despair). All the while we sense deep within that we are meant to become butterflies. Meant to become something entirely beautiful. Meant to fly high and free, even above the predators that seek to eat our souls. To be like Christ because we see Him for Who He IS (1 John 3:2).
Christ speaks constantly of the Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospels because He is inviting us into a new reality. Imagine the worm and the butterfly, and the vast difference between what they see of the world. Likewise Christian spirituality has the power to bring new vision. When practiced rightly, it purifies the mind and heart, and grants a new consciousness of both God and the world. This is the kind of faith that stirs an ache deep within the soul.
I imagine what it would be like if there were purely two dimensional beings, and suddenly they were to be transitioned into a three dimensional universe. Faith is something like this. It initiates us into a different plane of existence that is infinite and mysterious. Consider the book of Revelation where we are told that death no longer exists – Christ’s victory on the cross has changed the metaphysical structure of the universe!
And so we are called to participate in the mystery of the cross, the mystery of Christ. Like our silkworm we die to many things in order to become infinitely more than we are. The petty selfishness of the ego has a rather small agenda when compared with the infinite riches Christ offers the soul. For this reason we let go of all the small idols hiding in the soul, knowing that they are secretly suffocating us, starving us, and weighing us down. By God’s grace we can grow wings together.
In a certain sense, I believe that we are approaching an era where a Christian has to be a mystic – a person genuinely touched and transformed by the divine. Nothing else will suffice. But this contemporary pressure only serves to magnify the infinite glory of the Gospel. For while it may seem absurd at first, our Lord really does make worms into butterflies. And this truth brings us to the spiritual banquet of God, laid out in His heavenly kingdom.
God be with you.
– Unworthy Seraphim