Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


by Sister Jan Kilian

The caterpillar is finished eating milkweed leaves. “Watch! It will hang on to the jar in its ‘J’ form any minute now.” We watched. The caterpillar crawled around and around the jar. When it paused again, one of us said, “Now! It’s ready. Watch.” But . . . . the caterpillar moseyed on for yet a couple of hours until the caterpillar said, “Now!” and hung itself up on the jar’s edge to prepare its cocoon.

The monarch caterpillars’ going into their cocoons and coming out butterflies are familiar images of transformation. I had occasion to observe several this summer. Their stretching and flexing on the outside spoke to me of a wrenching process going on inside to accomplish the predictable conversion: worm - cocoon - monarch butterfly.

All of us creatures are designed to make transformational decisions from within our own selves. This was brought home to me during the Franciscan retreat I recently made at St. Francis Convent in Little Falls. Just as the monarch’s blueprint is written in the core of the caterpillar, so everything each of us needs for becoming Christ to the world is available in God’s design indelibly recorded -- you know where. Stop. Sit. Let the inner flexing, turning, stretching happen.

The gift (charism) of the Franciscan life is the life of conversion, a life of daily turning to hear and respond to God. This is not a logical, rational process. It is a work of our hearts, a work of love carried out in community. It involves surrender, letting go, sometimes darkness. It calls for shedding protective coverings, stripping ego, becoming Christ. Francis and Clare of Assisi encourage me with their example. I was happy to be able to retreat and ‘hang it up’ for at least a short while. I’m grateful to have let some important processes turn over in my spirit. I feel new. I think I’m finished eating milkweeds.



Mike Farley said...

Beautiful! Thank you. This sitting still and letting the inner flexing happen is hard for me to learn, sometimes... but milkweeds only last so long, don't they?

Kathleen said...

Sigh . . . no wonder I love you so much, Jan. Would you consider a daily blog, perhaps? =)

I wonder how many times I've entered the J shape over the years at Clare's Well. I certainly feel like the Monarch by the time I leave. Must be your cooking.

Peace and blessings . . .