Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy


Butterfly – Mercy Global Presence

In support of our journey with Mercy Global Presence  Carmel Bracken (Northern Province) has offered us this inspiring ritual. At this time in our reflective process we are engaging with the theme Degradation of Earth and the story of the Butterfly helps us to enter more deeply into our own story.

The Call To Transformation


Leader: The metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly has long been used as a symbol for the individual’s journey of transformation and it is an image of Easter time, which we now celebrate. As you listen to the words of the following song, what resonates with you?

by Jana Stanfield and Joyce Johnson Rouse

I was sitting alone on a hillside, confused about what to do
My choices were all complicated, it was time to think things through
I spotted a striped caterpillar stretching his face to the sky
Dragging his cumbersome body an inch at a time.
I was feeling the pain of slow progress, when a friend of his fluttered by
I leaned close as the caterpillar spoke with a voice as soft as a sigh. He said:

Butterfly, please tell me again, I’m gonna be alright
I can feel a change is comin’, I can feel it in my skin
I can feel myself outgrowing this life I’ve been living in
And I’m afraid, afraid of change
So, Butterfly, please tell me again I’m gonna be alright

I’m like my friend caterpillar, afraid of that dark cocoon
Wanting to hide in the tall grass from change that is coming soon
All of the things that we long for are born on the wings of change
Losses can lead us to blessings that we can’t explain
Butterflies remind us, there’s magic in every life
And we can be all that we dream of, if fat furry worms can fly

Repeat Chorus

On the day of my last breath I expect to see angels like butterflies over my head, and I’ll say

Repeat Chorus

Butterfly, please tell me again I’m gonna be alright

©1995 Bug Music /Rouse House Music, ASCAP. All rights reserved

Within us and around us now,  we are aware of a call to change . Never has it been clearer. As humans, just like the caterpillar we are being called to outgrow the lives we have been living. There is something in all of us that needs transformation at this moment in time. As you listen to the following poem, where are you aware of butterfly wings unfolding, personally and collectively.

Butterfly Wings

Cocoon walls
That once protected
The secret place
Where your butterfly wings unfolded
Now impede those fragile wings
That ache for space to soar
It is time to break through
Into a place
Where there is limitless room
To test and be tested
By the wind
A place
Where bright new colours
Will not be overshadowed.

Pause for quiet time to reflect on the promise of what is growing within us personally and collectively.

Today the  metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is also used as a metaphor for global transformation,  thanks to the work of evolutionary biologist and futurist Elisabeth Sahtouris. That global transformation, called the Great work by Thomas Berry is to “carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period where human’s would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.”    That transformation requires the death of caterpillar consciousness so butterfly consciousness can be born.

Together we pray the Litany of Transformation.

A Litany of Transformation  (adapted from an unknown source)

Trust needs to be born                                           False Security needs to die

Liberation needs to be born                                  Oppression needs to die

Celebration needs to be born`                              Boredom needs to die

Connectedness needs to be born                          Alienation needs to die

Creativity and courage need to be born              Fear of death needs to die

Sense of oneness need                                            Individualism needs to die

Recovery needs to be born                                     Addiction needs to die

Playing together needs to be born                        Competing needs to die

Reverence for all life needs to be born                Domination needs to die

Doing with needs to be born                                 Doing for needs to die

Be-attitude needs to be born                                 Have-attitude needs to die

Generosity needs to be born                                  Hoarding needs to die

Hope needs to be born                                            Despair needs to die

Creative silence needs to be born                         Empty noise needs to die

Circles need to be born                                           Hierarchies need to die.

As you listened to the litany of what needs to be transformed are there other things you see that need to die for  something new to be born.

 Allow space for these to be named.

……(name)    need to be born                     (name)  …….need to die.


Sometimes we wish to cling on to what needs to die because we fear change.   Sometimes we feel the new cannot be born fast enough but there is a timing and readiness for everything and the process needs to unfold as it is meant to.  As you listen to the following story about timing and readiness what touches you.

Timing and Readiness are Everything
Adapted from story from  Zorba the Greek

I dressed and went down to the water’s edge.  I walked quickly.  My indiscreet desire of that morning to pray into and know the future before it was born suddenly appeared to me a sacrilege.

I remembered one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree,  just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out.  I waited for a while,  but it was too long appearing and I was impatient.  I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes,  faster than life. The case opened,  the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled;  the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them.  Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath.  In vain.  It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear,  all crumpled,  before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later,  died in the palm of my hand.

The little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience.  For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature.  We should not hurry,  we should not be impatient,  but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.

I sat on a rock to absorb this New Year’s thought; if only that little butterfly could always flutter before me to show me the way.

Responses to story:   (Time for sharing)    Or  Spontaneous Prayers   

Optional Creative Process
I invite each of you to take a CARDBOARD OUTLINE OF A BUTTERFLY and to use whatever materials you wish to paint the butterfly or to create a butterfly from assorted fabrics and buttons and beads.  Be creative!  Your butterfly can be whatever it wishes to be.   Trust the flow.

Sharing About Process
Where is your butterfly calling you into the imaginal realm.

What would a world that works for all of life look like from the butterfly perspective?

Closing Prayer
May we hear in the crisis of this pandemic time the call to outgrow the lives we have been living as a human species.  May we learn to move beyond the caterpillar thinking that has shaped all our systems.   May we feel the pull of butterfly consciousness calling humanity to evolve into a better version of itself.

Ritual created by Carmel Bracken

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