Many insects go through metamorphosis, a major change or
transformation, in the course of their lives. There are two types of
In hemimetabolism, the larva simply grows larger, shedding its
exoskeletan as it grows. Younger forms basically look like smaller
versions of their adult selves. It is known as simple or incomplete
In holometabolism, larvae and adults look very different, with the larva
entering a pupa or chrysalis stage before emerging as an adult. This is
known as complete or complex metamorphosis. Only a few cells of the
larva's body are left inside the chrysalis to grow into the adult.
Holometabolism can be illustrated by the monarch butterfly (above). It
begins with an egg (upper left), which hatches into a caterpillar (next
two photos, left). The full-sized caterpillar enters a chrysalis (lower
three photos) before exiting as a crumpled-winged adult (two photos
right). Fluid in the veins hardens, supporting the wings of the fully
formed adult (center), a beautiful monarch butterfly.
Human beings are similar. We don't want to grow up into larger
versions of babies--crying and demanding our own way. We long to
be adults, with the privileges and powers that implies.
However, as adults, most of us come to realize that adulthood is not all
it's cracked up to be. The privileges are balanced by responsibilities
and the powers are diminished, because there's always someone who
has power over us.
As we grow older, we long for more. Christian scripture speaks of this
longing. "We ourselves . . . groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our
adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:23).
Part of this change, we can impact. "Be transformed by the renewing of
your mind" (Romans 12:2). Part of it, like the stages of a butterfly, just
happen. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory,
are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which
comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). Part of it
doesn't even happen until we pass through an inert stage. "For the
trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be
changed." (1 Corinthains 15:52).
Living in our current, half-way state, our bodies crawl like caterpillars
through life, but our souls look up in anticipation of soaring like
butterflies. As the old spiritual puts it, "I'll fly away, I'll fly away. When
I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away."