Summer is a season of transformation. The seedlings of spring mature to be harvested as the food that will sustain us for the year. The potential for all that a plant will be, lies dormant within the seeds that we sow in May and June. It’s pretty amazing when I think about it! Even the ancient oak tree that I can see outside my window this morning, started out as an acorn, hundreds of years ago. Did it believe it was destined to inspire an aging man centuries after it emerged from the ground on some distant spring morning in the past? Probably not. It requires perspective to see that kind of potential.
I have joked in the past that no matter how badly I want tomatoes, I cannot tug on the plant and make it grow any faster. The tomato plants realize their potential in their own time. They possess all that they need to realize their true selves, long before we planted them. With some nurturing and time, they eventually manifest all of their potential when it is their time. Nature is full of stories like the tomato.
The baby swallows are destined to rhythmically dance in the air with the grace of a ballerina. Mastering aerobatic flight, they will entertain us while feeding themselves before embarking on a 1000 mile journey in the autumn. Yet, they begin their humble lives as featherless, flightless, and helpless. With some time and nurturing by their parents, they will realize all that they are destined to do! The lazy, hungry monarch caterpillars, dining on the wild milkweed on the edges of our fields, are getting ready to transform themselves in a metamorphosis that is not rivaled around here. Shortly, they will emerge as beautiful butterflies who will never see for themselves the outcome of their potential and purpose.
These butterflies will travel thousands of miles to have offspring in their winter homes in Central America. It is their offspring, however, who will return to complete the cycle of life in the north. The migrating adults of autumn will never return here. With the perspective of a human life, it is easy to see their potential and purpose. To any given generation of butterfly, their potential and purpose may be less clear, but that does not make it less important.
Flowers bloom and then fade, all serving their purpose of procreation. In the process, however, they feed the butterfly and bee, and they provide beauty in the world to be appreciated by all sentience. The world is alive! Everything, it seems is in the process of some form of change or metamorphosis. Everything has a potential to be realized in its time. Since we, too, are in this world, inseparable from all other life and just as interdependent, we can expect nothing different from ourselves. Each of us started humbly, and by grace, nurturing, and time, we are all in the process of becoming what we are meant to be. Perhaps, even as each of us emerges from our chrysalis, transformed profoundly from what we once were, we will find our potential and a profound journey of purpose to fulfill as we leap to the sky to fulfill our destiny.