Ugly Duckling or Swan? 

My Mom was the seventh of eleven children and the black sheep of her family. Raised on a farm in Nebraska, she never felt she fit in there. As soon as she finished school, she moved to the big city of Chicago where she found her tribe.


Family of origin

You may not belong to your original family. You may match them genetically, but temperamentally, you may belong to an entirely different group.  Not that we only want to be with those we are most like, but it is vitally important to “know thyself” in order to contribute our authentic beauty to the greater whole.


The Ugly Duckling

Hans Christian Andersen wrote dozens of stories about the orphan archetype. He strongly supported searching for and finding one’s own kind.  His story, “The Ugly Duckling” first published in 1845, is about the archetype of the unusual and dispossessed. 


In the story, the ugly duckling is excluded and ultimately exiled.  He is not ugly in reality, but he does not match the others, so they pronounce him unacceptable. He was heartbroken to be rejected by his own, especially since he did nothing to warrant it other than look and act a little different. 


So, he set out to find where he belonged. He struggled through numerous ordeals. He felt lonely, cold, frozen, harassed, chased, shot at, at the edge of death…not knowing what would come next.


Shake it off

Jesus advises in Matthew 10:14, “If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet and leave that place.” Spiritually feet represent understanding. Dust represents any negativity that would cling to you.


You have a wild nature

The ugly duckling is symbolic of your Christ Self or your wild nature. The wild nature when pressed to be something it is not, or could ever be, strives to continue no matter what. Endurance is one of its greatest strengths. It will sustain you through horrendous experiences until you come into your own.


Find where you fit in

Two experiences in the duckling’s life offer great wisdom in finding your true identity.  First, at birth, he finds himself where he can “act the part” but he doesn’t really fit in. He can, for instance, swim well; but he doesn’t look right. It is imperative not to strive too hard or believe too deeply that if you act just right, you can fit in. It is this kind of acting that stifles your soul.


Your soul responds to warmth

Secondly, the duckling is found frozen in the ice of a pond. One of the ways we deal with exile is to numb out. To be frozen means to purposely shut down your feelings. While it is a self-protective mechanism, the soul does not respond to iciness, but to warmth. The ice must be broken, and the soul taken out of the freeze.


Divine help to push you on

In the story, a farmer comes along and helps the duckling out of the Ice. In all myth and story, the divine comes in the form of help that: feeds us, pulls us out, shows us the secret passage, shares the magic word, or gives the awakening kiss. And, the one who helps free us to feel again, is not necessarily the one to whom we belong. This person, or this experience, is most likely a “divine initiate,” the one who appears out of nowhere to assist us and then disappears into the night. Their arrival, is for the purpose of pushing us through to the next phase, which is learning the strength of exile.


The strength of exile

Exile enables acute insight. It heightens intuition and grants powers of keen observation and perspective that the “insider” could never achieve. The promise of your Spirit is that it will endure the harshest of winters and carry you through to Spring. In Spring, the ugly duckling finds his true identity in his own reflection while swimming on the pond.  


Your most authentic self

The Christ Spirit within you, is ever waiting your recognition. So, don’t cringe if you are called the black sheep, the maverick, the lone wolf. If you have ever been called unique, interesting, defiant, incorrigible, forward, bold, rebellious or radical… celebrate because your wild nature is close by. 


You are created in the image and likeness of God. You not only match, but you belong to the divine. Walt Whitman summed it up pretty well, “I am larger… better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.”

Many blessings to all the swans out there. 


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