Metamorphosis – a Sacred Moment in the Monarch Butterfly Nursery – Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

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As part of a “staycation”, some new-to-Richmond friends and I spent a morning last week at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. With three daughters-in-tow, we lingered at the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit. It’s an incredible indoor “habitat” for tropical butterflies. 2015 July Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with Christie and video 0492015 July Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with Christie and video 011

 If you have the patience to be still and butterfly-friendly, the butterflies may come close to you as you come close to them.

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I’ve been several times and never tire of the marvel of these creatures. My daughter once said how curious it is with butterflies that as big as they are we are drawn to them where we would be repelled by insects of another kind, that large.

On this particular day, we saw something I had only read about in the past, and hadn’t really considered deeply until that moment. The metamorphosis of the butterfly.2015 July Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Blog, Christie, Kim 079

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One of the girls and I stood enrapt watching a caterpillar fix itself upside-down on the edge of the “Monarch nursery” (photo above, creature on right). It was a caterpillar moving and being all caterpillar-like…and then it wasn’t. I’m not really much of a naturalist. Yet, it was impossible to draw away from this seemingly sacred movement.

The caterpillar made these shuddering movements and its skin literally popped open slowly from the back of its head up its body until all that was left was the chrysalis. The skin fell off, and after a bit more shudders, the chrysalis went still. It would hang still like that for 10-14 days until the Monarch butterfly emerges.

As we stood there watching that process, literally transfixed, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Apostle Paul’s description of what happens when people become believers in Christ. He spoke from transforming experience of going from a murderous persecutor of the church to an all-out follower of Christ.

Believers may look the same on the outside – but a spiritual process occurs in the inside where we come alive, with new hearts because of Him. The wretched “old” is gone; all things have become new.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.2 Corinthians 5:17-18

monarch-and-milkweed - lewisginter org (2)Photo Credit: This one from LewisGinter.org

This was that sacred moment that day for me…in front of the Monarch Nursery, standing beside my new young friend.

Post-script: We left the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit shortly after and entered into the Garden proper to enjoy the flowers. There on one of the flower displays was a butterfly! My first thought was that it had escaped the exhibit! Sigh….2015 July Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with Christie and video 073

Butterflies LIVE! – Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

YouTube Video – Monarch Butterfly Metamorphosis time-lapse FYV 1080 HD

YouTube Video – Butterflies Live! at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Photo Credits: Mine except the one of the Monarch Butterfly

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2 thoughts on “Metamorphosis – a Sacred Moment in the Monarch Butterfly Nursery – Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens”

  1. We are thrilled that you had such a good time visiting our Garden and the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit with your friends. Thanks for writing about your experience and sharing it with others.
    Don’t worry, that butterfly didn’t escape from our exhibit. It looks like a native, the Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus).

    1. Thanks for commenting, Jonah Holland. I also appreciate you’re identifying the native butterfly. Butterflies LIVE! is an amazing exhibit. I’ll be back several more times before it’s finished its season. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is such a lovely place. Glad to be a member.

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