Taking Shape

How can a butterfly describe what it was like to be a chrysallis, or a caterpillar? Now the creature is grown to adulthood, there are wings and colours and freedom, that the caterpillar could not have imagined. And now the fear of destruction and sense of helplessness, claustrophobia, even of loss of self, of the dry papery chrysalis… have gone.

But the butterfly can’t in all fairness deny its chrysalis stage -because that was an integral part of its formation, nor can it despise the days of its soft, fat, caterpillar-hood… since it was fed in those days, with the nourishment to grow to maturity, growing even through the days of hunger and entombment in the chrysallis.

But now, reformed by God, something emerges that no longer has anything to prove… the fat green worm doesn’t argue foolishly that it can fly, the chrysalis no longer fears that other people’s will mistake it for a dried up leaf or brown stone, and crush it…

… It has emerged.

-I suppose the slight downfall of this picture might be that butterflies are the final stage, whilst the Christian disciple continues to develop throughout their life…  and beyond.

Over this Summer I have been offered the space and kindness to recover from the enclosure of the chrysalis, the warmth and light to stretch out and unfold… And the time to consider the change that has taken place, to acknowledge my change of state and accept it with gratitude. I’ve also had time to accept and forgive the discomfort of the earlier stages, knowing that God is working his purpose out and not beating myself up for the earlier days when I could only plod along absorbing new information and situations, or the days when, almost paralysed psychologically, I couldn’t do anything at all. A caterpillar doesn’t get to be a butterfly by flapping its legs and jumping off a leaf. But there is also no sense in a butterfly harking back to earlier days, keeping its wings out of the way for convenience’ sake and walking everywhere.

God can make us into anything He wants to… and he loves us, and gives us amazing gifts to use for his glory. We can only love him gratefully, and love our neighbours gently, and love ourselves for what God has made of us… and it is always the last one where I have fallen down before… but once again, after years of slow growth and swathes of forgetfulness, I am amazed and delighted that, in God’s love… in love with God, I truly am a new creation…

And I am eager to see how the wings of others are beginning to unfold.

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About Jemma

Learning to be both a priest and a human being in the Anglican Church
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