What the Moth Knows

What the Moth Knows

Cecropia moth cocoon.

It’s ironic: butterflies get all the attention. But moths spin silk; they’re stronger, they’re faster.
— John Locke to Charlie Pace, in "Lost"

In early April, before Lent gave way to the Passion and the Resurrection, an African American preacher-friend of mine delivered a highly memorable sermon in our church, which he titled, "The Process Is Necessary." In short, it explored the irreducible necessity of struggle—for the purpose of transformation.

The preacher reminded us of John Locke's famous island sermon to Charlie Pace (see: the video below), who could not stay apart from his drugs. In observing a moth cocoon, Locke concludes, "Struggle is nature's way of strengthening [the moth]." Through the lens of Christian faith, I imagine we are to conclude it is nature's way because it is God's preferred way with his creatures.

For anyone in the painful, often chaotic throes of real struggle, and for those of us who may or may not know what the moth knows, the exhortation of the preacher was incisive: We must refuse to die in the dark space. I must refuse to die in that dark space.

Like the adult moth emerging in the spring, after the winter, struggle is not the stuff of child's play. Indeed, the night may seem forever. The elements could, it is true, conspire to destroy us in the end. But struggle is the only known road to mature adulthood, to a beauty on the other side, to the possibility of spinning silk.

So in the words of another preacher: "Let steadfastness have its full effect."


If Every Bible Is Lost

If Every Bible Is Lost

Prayer for the Valley of Lent

Prayer for the Valley of Lent