Nature has a habit of surprising us with serendipitous gifts of hope: a beautiful sunset, a flower growing in an unexpected place, hearing the first robin of spring. These are happy, life-giving discoveries we hadn’t expected. The surprise that comes with them reminds us that being open to surprise is one of the chief qualities of a hope-filled person. Many of the symbols that we use for hope come from nature: rainbows, doves, and butterflies. Butterflies are often used as a symbol of resurrection—new life from death. Understanding how a butterfly transforms from caterpillar to winged new life deepens this imagery.

When a caterpillar hatches from an egg, it already has everything it needs within itself to become a butterfly even though it bears very little resemblance to the lovely creature it will one day become. A caterpillar has one great task before it: eat and grow so it can construct a chrysalis where its transformation into a butterfly will happen. Becoming a butterfly, though, isn’t just a matter of rearranging caterpillar parts into butterfly parts. A caterpillar literally dissolves and disintegrates inside the chrysalis. It’s from this “caterpillar soup” that a butterfly comes together, truly a new life from the creature it was before. From start to finish, the life of a butterfly offers us a profound symbol of hope.


Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? . . . Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” Matthew 6


  • At least once this week, walk in nature. What places draw you to them? Open spaces? Forests? Water? Seek to discover a place in nature that is restorative and thus renews hope for you.
  • Take periodic Nature Breaks. Simply check in with the created world around you right here and right now: the sky and clouds; wind and weather; plants and trees; birds, squirrels, and other creatures; any water near you. Use as many of your senses as you can during these breaks.

  • Look over your life, where have you experienced caterpillar to butterfly transformation? How might remembering these experiences grow hope in you?
  • Butterflies, birds, and flowers tell us about God’s gracious care in the nature. As you walk and pause in creation this week, what do you notice that can become your personal symbol of hope?


As we end these reflections on hope, spend time with God this week talking about the ways that creation can grow the light of hope within you. You may find these words from Meister Eckhart, a 13th century German theologian, helpful:

Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things. Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. If I spend enough time with the tiniest creature, even a caterpillar, I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature.