This Advent and Christmas, we had some special visitors.
Twin caterpillars 🙂
One of them (Le) eventually ran away before pupating; the other (Mon) stayed; through her, I was blessed, consoled, and strengthened. In watching both of them grow, I saw that the biggest lessons can be found in the smallest, quietest things:
1) By the time we discovered Le and Mon, they were almost at 5th instar. It’s incredible how they managed to survive my Mum’s generous watering in all the earlier stages (and how we managed to miss seeing them). God works, in spite of us.
2) Found out that Le and Mon only fed on leaves from citrus plants; else, would refuse to eat. Also read that a caterpillar will sleep on the underside of a leaf, then wake up and eat it. How cute! Am I as discerning spiritually – sleeping on good food and letting it nourish me?
3) Not only did they eat well, they also pooped – all the time! Growth comes with a lot of crap.
4) Our saddest moment was the morning when Le ran away. Never figured out how he did it – we had mosquito netting over the pot surface, and even secured the netting to the pot handles with clothes pegs! Later, we made a moat for Mon, to keep ants out. The boundaries fall in pleasant places – they aren’t prison; they are safety.
5) We missed seeing the most awe-inspiring parts of the metamorphosis: Mon clothing herself in her silk girdle to melt down; and pushing her way out on Christmas Eve morning. Remains a mystery, hidden from eye… like my/our inward journey(s) with God – deeply personal, unapologetically raw, and marked by lifegiving struggle.
6) Mon took her time to eclose. All we could do was wait. 10 days. To us, she looked like a dead leaf, but plenty was going on inside. And beauty emerged. A reminder that waiting does not diminish us; “We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Eugene Peterson)
7) We let her go. The inward work done, must flow outward in freedom. Saw Mon take her first flight, then we went to peer into her empty chrysalis. A new creature! Looking nothing like her caterpillar/pupa self. “the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor 5:17)
[Their story: Closing w a chrysalis 30Dec14 ]
At the same time, I had reminders that “new things” doesn’t always mean going to new places. It might simply mean going back to where I/we came from. Same but different.
“when we pass through [such] transformations we [are] radically different and yet recognizably the same… We see differently, but still have the same set of eyes, and we still have to reckon with all the yet-to-be-converted parts of ourselves [which] will always be there.” – The Desert: Wilderness of Transformation (p.61)
Thankfully, we have a new fresh supply of love and mercies from God’s heart, every day. We can depend on God to live differently in the sameness.
In a few hours, we will usher in the New Year. By God’s grace, we will cross gently and quietly into the “new”. As we do that, I will be holding many “old” faces, names and places in my heart, lifting prayers to God through Christ.