I'm reading Marked for Life: Prayer in the Easter Christ, by Maria Boulding, a book about silent, contemplative prayer written with the conviction that anyone seriously committed to this kind of prayer finds themselves experiencing its repercussions in every area of life, and that "this pervasive experience is an experience of death and resurrection which draws us deeply into the Easter mystery of Christ." (p 1).
Her first chapter is on Letting Go -- letting go of the old to make way for new life, leaping with trust from the known to the unknown. She writes of the ways we are all familiar with this from what we see around us in nature -- leaves changing to humus that nurtures crops, acorns that fall to the ground, then sprout, eventually becoming tall trees, babies that give up efficient and speedy crawling for the precarious enterprise of walking upright.
"Life springs and grows where the bearers of life do not clutch it to themselves, but hear the call to let it go in the interests of fuller life and action. The caterpillar consents to the cocoon, sensing its destiny." (p 2).
Ah. Caterpillars. Does the caterpillar consent, or does it go grudgingly into the mystery of the cocoon or chrysalis? Or does it just munch its way along, surprised to discover one day that it is a beautiful butterfly?
I've got images and text running through my head from numerous stories over the years -- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Hope for the Flowers, a bedtime story tape the children used to listen to about a fearful caterpillar whose title I can't recall -- all with variations on what that caterpillar is thinking.
It doesn't really matter, because of course Dame Maria and those other authors are really writing about us, and we come in many stripes. Some of us consent, some wail, some grumble, some are oblivious -- and all of us do all of these some of the time.
A little further on Dame Maria writes, after a section on obedience and prayer, "...it is still difficult for us to let go of what we have or think we have, of the immediate tangible good which to our caterpillar's-eye-view seems to offer life here and now." (p 6)
Caterpillars, all of us, whether we are praying, "Munch, thanks. Munch, thanks. Munch, thanks." or "Help. Help. Help." or "Into your hands."
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.