Years ago I found a little book with words and pictures drawn by Trina Paulus. She published it in 1972. Why I have hung onto this book for so long is anyone’s guess.
However, in this day of cut throat elections of 2020 and the depressive feelings of being closed in…I think I know why this book has a message.
There are climbers for “being on top” in our world today. We often teach our children that they must push for success rather than finding their true purpose. People follow this philosophy, believing that they will find happiness and contentment in life…even if it is, at times, at the expense of others.
Grab a rope and hang on…for we are going to make a very high climb as I share some portions of this enchanting book with you. Perhaps we, together, can find a lesson for our own lives.
As we pray for and look for hope for the world, the title of this book is HOPE FOR THE FLOWERS. The Author begins this way:
“Once upon a time a tiny striped caterpillar burst from the egg which had been home for so long. “Hello world,” he said. “It sure is bright out here in the sun.”
So the caterpillar begins to eat the leaves in which he was born. After much eating, he stopped and wondered if there was more to life than just eating. Climbing down the tree, he decided to look around and see more of the world. He found grass, dirt and bugs that he had never known about. Eventually, he saw a long line of other crawling caterpillars, all heading in the same direction. They were all heading to a large pile of more caterpillars pushing and shoving.
The caterpillar in this story is named Stripe. Stripe was”pushed, kicked and stepped on from every direction. It was climb or be climbed upon. No more “fellow caterpillars” on Stripe’s pile…they became only threats and obstacles which he turned into steps and opportunities.”
As they tried to climb to the top, Stripe finally asked a fellow-climber, “What’s at the top?”
Nobody seemed to know, but Stripe had a conscience because he said, “How can I step on someone I’ve just talked to?”
He also found, along the way, a beautiful caterpillar named Yellow. She talked with Stripe, but he lost track of her until one day when he stepped directly on her head. It was then that Stripe began to believe that climbing on top of other caterpillars hour after hour was an unhappy experience. To try to reach some mysterious place made him say, “…no matter what is up there, it isn’t worth it!” After telling Yellow he was sorry, he saw Yellow begin to cry.
She said, “I didn’t know how badly I felt about this life until then. Now when you look at me so kindly, I know for sure I don’t like this life. I just want to do something like crawl with you and nibble grass.” This was how much she liked Stripe.
Stripe said, “I would like that too.” They had found not only another way to live, but to love and made a decision to give up this monumental climb to the top.
As with many decisions, doubts set in and Stripe decided to leave Yellow and try the climb once more. During the pushing and shoving, he saw a climber falling back down from the top. He barely made out the words being said, “…butterflies alone!” He didn’t know what this meant. Meanwhile, Yellow came each day to the high pile of climbers and watched to see if she would see Stripe…to no avail.
One day, Yellow saw a grey-haired caterpillar hanging on a branch upside down. Asking if she could help, the caterpillar replied, “Oh no, my dear, I have to do this to become a butterfly.”
Doing a little research, Yellow found out that a butterfly drinks the nectar from the flowers and carries the seeds of LOVE from one flower to another. She learned that “without butterflies, the world would soon have few flowers.”
To think that inside herself, as a fuzzy caterpillar, there was a change going to happen. She could be eventually a flying, beautiful butterfly! This was hard to understand.
She longed to tell Stripe that she had found that she could have a completely new life. However, she didn’t know where he might be on the pile of caterpillars. She was told that once she had her new life, she could fly and find him…giving him the good news. It would take time.
Finding new patience and purpose, she continued to give attention to all that she had to do in order to make this wonderful new life a reality.
Stripe, in the mean time, has become ruthless in his climb. He stepped on those around him and said, “Don’t blame me if you don’t succeed! It’s a tough life….”
Then one day as he neared the top of the pile, Stripe heard something more than ruthless from one of his climbing-mates,
“None of us can get any higher without getting rid of them.”
The bodies of caterpillars that were in the way began to fall as others pushed them off the pile.
One caterpillar yelled, “THERE IS NOTHING HERE AT ALL!”
Another yelled, “QUIET, FOOL! THEY’LL HEAR YOU DOWN THE PILE. WE’RE WHERE THEY WANT TO GET. THAT’S WHAT’S HERE!“
Stripe could see that those who knew the truth wanted to keep others from knowing that all their climbing would led them to nothing.
Just at that moment, a beautiful yellow butterfly was circling the pile of caterpillars. There was something about her that look familiar. Stripe knew immediately what he had to do…as he began his long climb DOWN, looking into the eyes of each climbing caterpillar.
“There’s nothing there.” he warned them.
He had never noticed before that each one had something beautiful and different in their eyes. He let them know that to get to the top, one had to fly, which they could each one do if they only knew and waited for their potential. There was something inside that could give them freedom and peace. THEY COULD BE THE HOPE FOR THE FLOWERS.
When we find our purposes as individuals…and as a country….we might also bring hope to the world.
(With respect for the Author, Trina Paulus, and her words/drawings, I will share the Amazon website below, in case you want to read the entire book.