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Before my mother left, one night at the church playground, she showed us a cocoon hanging in the walnut tree. The walnuts were still in their green husks. They smelled sour.

“See? Look but don’t touch.”

The cocoon was shaking. The topmost rim started to retract. The white fuzz crept open, revealing the edge of the black insect inside. At the school playground, Maria Berry had picked up a black and orange furry caterpillar, letting it crawl the length of the back of her hand. A caterpillar turned into a cocoon turned into a moth.

“Ew! It looks like it’s pooping!” Eddie, the pastor’s grandson, had no interest in moths.

She laughed. “It’s not pooping. That’s the butterfly coming out.”

“It looks gross.” Behind us, the sun was going down. It shone orange on the leaves. I stood on one leg, until I got wobbly, then switched and stood on the other.

My mother put her hands on my shoulders. “Stop fidgeting.” I kicked a rut in the dust.

The moth’s antennae crept out, then one leg and another.

“Oh, it’s stuck!” This was taking forever. I started for the silky casing.

“No!” She swatted me. “Hands off! If you touch it, it will die.”

Eddie reached for the cocoon. “Cool!”

“No, it is not cool. You will obey me! Nobody touches the butterfly!” She quieted her voice and crouched down. “God has a plan for everything and everyone. He has a plan for all of His creatures. It takes time for a caterpillar to spin a cocoon, and it takes time for the butterfly to emerge.”

The swings were just on the other side of the tree. I looked with longing past the moth. It was almost night time and summer was almost over. I promised myself I would pay attention the next time it happened.

I never seen a moth hatch from its cocoon.

from The Book of Revelation

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