A friend posted an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh on Facebook the other day. I believe that was the first time I’ve ever seen any kind of correlation between Pooh and Christ. I also believe she posted it about the death of a child, thus making it the first time I’ve openly wept while scrolling through my Facebook feeds.
“How does one become a butterfly?” Pooh asked pensively. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar,” Piglet replied. “You mean to die?” asked Pooh. “Yes and no” he answered. “What looks like you will die, but what’s REALLY you will live on.” -A.A. Milne
I could point out that in this illustration, I’m a caterpillar, sliding along on the ground, a failure at flight. I might make the comparison to Max Lucado’s series Hermie, in which an ordinary green caterpillar keeps hearing that God isn’t finished with him yet, and has something special in store. I should point out that it clearly illustrates, using natural phenomenon (and fictional characters), being born again – dying to an old life and being born in a new Spirit.
I read it on a few levels, that quote. I read what was written. I read it as an expression of bereavement. I read it as a reminder of my baptism. I read it as an echo of I Corinthians 15:31 “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus; I die daily.” This is part of a discussion Paul is having about resurrection. He says that he faces the threat of death on a daily basis, but more importantly, he dies to sin every day.
What is Christian baptism if not a participation in the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ? No matter what your particular denomination thinks of baptism (mine happens to view it as welcoming a new member and symbolizing death to sin), it’s water, it’s rebirth, it’s rising again.
I was baptized at 7 years old. I was aware of my choice, to visually and physically represent my death to sin and my desire to follow Jesus’ example. But, like Paul, I die daily, as I remember that sin didn’t stop at 7, and each day, I have to want to give up being a caterpillar, little better than a slug – enough to wrap myself in a coccoon and trust that upon my emergence, I will fly.
I hold on to sin, gather it around me like a warm blanket, but unless I die daily, give up being grounded by all the weight, I’ll never fly. I have to want it badly. I have to want it desperately. I have to die in order to fly.