there's waiting in the wings

When Kaitlin brought home her caterpillar for the monarch life cycle project in science class, I think I was more excited about her homework than she was. I couldn't wait to see the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. I would be excited about it anyways, but a couple years ago I read a book that had me thinking about the whole process.

No, not Eric Carle's beautifully illustrated book, though when we ran out of milkweed I kept thinking of his very hungry caterpillar. It was a book that my counselor suggested I read called When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. In it, she speaks of "the spiritual act of cocooning." She emphasizes the importance of not just waiting, but doing the work of waiting. The transformation happens in the waiting, in the cocoon.

While watching Bon Qui Qui Jr. transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly, I dusted off Sue Monk Kidd's book and reread the passages that I'd underlined when I'd read it a couple years ago. I underlined a few more passages as I skimmed over what had spoken to me then. Her writing of the transformative work in the cocoon is why I have a tattoo of a butterfly on my shoulder. It touched my heart then, and it's touched it once again.

The following are her words, not mine. I can't express it any better than she does:



    "Waiting is ... both passive and passionate. It's a vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely. It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision."


    "Stripe and Yellow were two caterpillars in Trina Paulus's book Hope for the Flowers. It was the story of how they became butterflies.
    "Yellow had seen another caterpillar spinning a cocoon and asked, 'If I decide to become a butterfly ... what do I do?'
    "'Watch me,' came the reply. 'I'm making a cocoon. It looks like I'm hiding, I know, but a cocoon is no escape. It's an in-between house where the change takes place. ...During the change, it will seem...that nothing is happening, but the butterfly is already becoming. It just takes time.'"



    "[There is] a story about a child who found a cocoon. Wishing to set the creature inside free, he took his pocket knife and pared an opening at the bottom of the chrysalis, making it possible for the butterfly to wriggle free. But when the creature unfurled its wings, it couldn't fly. With the butterfly's waiting cut short, its wings were hopelessly unformed.

    "The call not only to wait, but to 'stay' in my waiting had arrived."


    "God is offering an invitation. A call to waiting. A call to the mysteries of the cocoon. ... It isn't the quick and easy religion we're accustomed to. It's deep and difficult -- a way that leads into the vortex of the soul where we touch God's transformative powers. But we have to be patient. We have to let go and tap our creative stillness. Most of all, we have to trust that our scarred hearts really do have wings."



Kaitlin let Bon Qui Qui Jr. go without me. I was sad about that because I wanted to be there to see her fly away. But it was Kaitlin's project, after all, so it's all good. I'm glad she at least sent me a picture of her holding the butterfly before letting her fly away.

The whole purpose of the science project was to see the transformation and then let the butterfly go. As much as Bon Qui Qui Jr. fascinated me, as much as I wanted to keep a reminder of the transformative process around, she needed to fly away.

The purpose of our waiting, our transformation, is to let go too. We are transformed when we let go of ourselves and let God do His work in us. It's hard, sometimes, to stay in the waiting of transformation. But when we do, God gives us wings to fly.



Lucy said...

Anne, such beautiful words. I have already felt like life is perpetual waiting...I love the song by John Waller called Waiting.

Tamera Beardsley said...

Oh Anne... this is so very beautiful. Your writing always has such depth and meaning. I had to read this twice... slowly... and let it truly soak in...

"to trust that our scarred hearts do have wings"....

Thank you dear Anne.

Mindy Whipple said...

"But we have to be patient. We have to let go and tap our creative stillness. Most of all, we have to trust that our scarred hearts really do have wings" Beautiful words to contemplate - thank you for sharing!


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