“In her novel Regeneration, Pat Barker writes of a doctor who “knew only too well how often the early stages of change or cure may mimic deterioration. Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem of the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.” But the butterfly is so fit an emblem of the human soul that its name in Greek is psyche, the word for soul. We have not much language to appreciate this phase of decay, this withdrawal, this era of ending that must precede beginning. Nor of the violence of the metamorphosis, which is often spoken of as though it were as graceful as a flower blooming.” –From Rebecca Solnit’s “A Field Guide to Getting Lost”
This week, in the “intro to process thought” reading group, we got to talking about suffering and transformation. We all expressed dislike of the “everything happens for a reason” kinds of responses to suffering. I fundamentally disagree with a theology/philosophy that would say the Ultimate would put/wish such pain upon us. But
also we discussed how we all had indeed experienced transformation from our times of deep suffering. Just because we humans are resilient, just because we are forced into circumstances from which we can learn and grow, does not mean that those are experiences are “good.” It just means we do what we gotta do and some of us are blessed with learning, even growth and transformation, from them. As one person put it, “sometimes I definitely feel like a rotting caterpillar.”
As we transition into the dark season of the year, as we come out of these days of honoring our beloveds who have died, as the leaves change, fall, and decay, remember that if you were to cut a chrysalis open, you would find not a beautiful half-caterpillar, half-butterfly creature, but instead a rotting caterpillar.
This Sunday, Sharon Arpoika with lead worship with Kate Munger: Threshold Choir: Kindness Made Audible–Kate Munger, founder of the Threshold Choir will share its vision – “A world where all at life’s thresholds may be honored with compassion shared through song.” Kate will also be leading a Community Sing Saturday 7-9pm, and leading a workshop on Sunday 1-4pm. To sign up or if you have questions, contact Bernadette B!