Chrysalis (2/4, Lifecycle)
“God calls the caterpillar to the cocoon.” That sentence came to me with the force of a revelation of special meaning. To most people it sounds odd, banal or silly, to others obvious. But to me it was a thunderbolt, a pronouncement that explained what was happening to me.
It was in 2013, when I was immersing myself in literature from the Christian contemplative tradition and starting to learn related practices, such as centering prayer and personal silent retreats. The church traditions I had been a part of throughout my teens and adult life had been ill at ease, even mistrustful of silence. In services or small groups, we rushed to fill any awkward pauses, considering them to be, well … awkward. Even our personal devotions were packed full of words, of daily Bible reading plans and devotional books, of working our way through prayer lists, as if our time with God was about how hard we were working at it, about much we could accomplish in his name.
If God handled transformation the way we tend to handle spiritual growth, what would it look like? Perhaps he would make the caterpillar feel guilty for its caterpillar nature, glue a couple of wings to its body, tell it to go to church, pray and read the Bible every day, believe and confess hard enough, then jump off the leaf and fly?
This strikes me now as a very “caterpillar-y” approach to spiritual growth. It’s not that I regret any of the effort I put into my personal devotions in past seasons of my life. On the contrary, I’m very grateful for the foundation it laid, particularly in the familiarity and love it created in me for the riches of the Bible. But now I was feeling drawn — even called — to enter the cocoon, a place of silence and solitude, a place not about doing, but about yielding. A place of slow but profound transformation.
Next post: Butterfly (3/4, Lifecycle)