Ten days ago the monarch caterpillar I found merrily munching milkweed along the millrace entered its chrysalis stage.
No matter how often I see one, a monarch chrysalis always strikes me as a green and golden luminescence. And it seems miraculous that I can see just a hint of the wing that is forming inside.
In her book When the Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd describes her mid-life time of depression and disorientation. At a critical point, she finds a chrysalis hanging from a tree branch and takes it home.
I found myself staring at the chrysalis, at this lump of brown silence. It overwhelmed me with its simple truth. A creature can separate from an old way of existence, enter a time of metamorphosis, and emerge to a new level of being.. . The life of the soul evolves and grows as we move through these three cycles [separation, transformation, emergence]. The process isn't a one-time experience but a spiraling journey that we undertake throughout life. Life is full of cocoons. We die and are reborn again and again. By repeatedly entering the spiral of separation, transformation and emergence, we're brought closer each time to wholeness and the True Self. p 78
Yesterday we could tell that emergence was about to happen for this butterfly -- the chrysalis started to darken.
By this morning, we could clearly see the orange and black wing through the clear shell.
An hour later, warmed by the sun, the butterfly emerged, patiently hanging on to its old case as its wings slowly straightened out and filled with the fluid it needed to fly.
And before long, it made its first short flight -- to the porch screen, where its wings glowed in the sunlight. We finally coaxed it on to a finger and got it out the door, where it fluttered awkwardly towards the crabapple tree, but didn't quite have the strength it needed yet. Instead, it found a quiet spot on the grass and then the fence, resting there for another hour or two, soaking in the sunshine and gradually pumping its wings. And finally it flew off, beginning its long journey to the west.
After a two year journey through darkness, much waiting and inner work, Sue too comes to a point where she recognizes she has come to a new space. She stands looking at the tree where she found her cocoon, long since hatched, and hopes that soon another cocoon will hang there. "The world needs such expressions of grace to remind us that when the heart waits, the Great Mystery begins." And she recalls the words of Annie Dillard: "Yes, it's tough, it's tough, that goes without saying. But isn't waiting itself a wonder...?" p 204.
May you too find wonder and delight as you enter your times of chrysalis waiting.
"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.