Transformations as Modeled for Us by Cicadas

   Readings: Psalm 146:5-10; Ruth 4:13-17; 2 Peter 3:11-18

“The Lord sets the prisoners free.” — Psalm 146:7

“May he also be to you a restorer of life.” — Ruth 4:15

While some people have spirit animals that they claim inspire and protect them, I have recently welcomed a spirit insect to my life (see image above): the remarkable cicada. Like snakes, cicadas break out of their skins as they grow leaving behind their exoskeleton for a new, larger body. I find this transformation to be an inspirational model for how to move up, out, and beyond myself when I’ve outgrown the current structures of my life.

If you have ever watched a cicada breaking out of its skin (either in person or via YouTube), what you will notice is that it cracks open its back shell first and then wiggles through the opening emerging upright in green glory then it pauses before jettisoning itself off the brown husk. I find the time lapse videos on this process endlessly fascinating. In case you, too, might be a wannabe cicada fan, here’s a link for your appreciation:

I identify five parallels between cicada transformations and my own:

  1. Change starts from the inside first and then, after a time of momentum building, forces itself into the exterior world. For example, when I and my business partner started two businesses in 2017, we had had a year before that of internal, private visioning, goal setting, and planning together before it ever became obvious to people in our community that anything different was happening.
  2. Once the change starts happening, it takes tremendous effort.  The cicada/evolving person must be intrinsically and powerfully motivated to stay the course through to the other side of the transformation. Having started, we have to finish, and no one can do it for us other than us.
  3. What gets us through the process is a commitment to being willing to let go of the old and risk moving into the new. Without that, we get dangerously stuck.
  4. Of paramount importance is an understanding that we can’t rush any step in the transformative journey. It happens the way it is meant to happen and any effort on our parts to slow it down or speed it up will be counter-productive.
  5. Finally, once the new has emerged, it is crucial that we follow the wisdom of the cicada and pause.  Taking the time to pause serves many important functions. It gives us time to luxuriate in our massive achievement. It provides us with perspective on where we have come from and maybe a hint of where we are going next.

As the Scriptures cited above point out, “prisoners are set free” and “restored to life” as, using the analogy of cicada transformations and comparison to how self-aware humans go through life passages, the cycle of life — death — life plays out. It is natural and beautiful…and often painful, but always a miracle.

Offered by Jill Fredrickson, businesswoman, encourager of growth, walking home to Bethlehem.

[Cicada Emerging, photo by Shane Gross, Marine Conservation Photojournalist, taken November 2017. Go to to view and purchase more of his works.]

[Two Rowhouses, Colin Fredrickson, artist]


2 thoughts on “Transformations as Modeled for Us by Cicadas

  1. Ann Fowler

    Thanks Jill. I’ve always seen the butterfly or dragonfly as images of transformation. The cicada will be a new image to pray with!


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