Sunday, February 25, 2007

the wings of faith

When I was around ten years old, our family moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Indianapolis. The home we had in Cleveland was lovely, older, must have belonged to someone very wealthy and elegant in it's day. It had a back staircase to the kitchen, a dumb waiter to the cellar, a huge open floor plan on the second floor-I remember hours spent enjoying all of these things as only a child can. But my father's job necessitated a move, and we HAD moved before, but this time because of my age somehow I could feel the consequences of it all much more directly. We went from an old neighborhood full of traditional Catholic families and this roomy house to a newly-constructed townhouse in a development where people more or less lived in pre-measured cubes attached to each other. I could not get used to this arrangement. Very thankfully because it was a newly developed area, there were areas that weren't, so we had a huge open field in the back of our townhouse clump.

It turned out to be a hard move for all of us. My older sister was just entering junior high, and she went from a small, private school to a large public institution. Junior high is never easy, but she did not make a smooth transition to say the least. We both found our solace running in the field out back with butterfly nets for hours on end. During this time period new, decorative trees (cherry?) were planted around the entrance sign to our development, and we noticed funny little paper bag-like sacs in the crook of several branches. We realized they were cocoons and promptly removed them to an empty fish tank in our shared bedroom.

We spent days looking in the library for what these mystery sacs may become and ran into the bedroom after school to see if they were evacuated. One spring day we came home to find one small paper bag with a hole in the top. We looked over by the window screen and there, in it's fully unfurled glory, was a male Cecropia moth. It took my breath away. The wingspan was as large as a grown man's hand and the coloring like flying autumn leaves, with russets and reds, muted purples, brilliant and subtle. The antennae were like flaming ferns and the body a striped fur coat. We had three cocoons and so over the following days were actually able to witness one Cecropia emerging. It was such a special time and indelible memory, somehow we both never forgot this spring.

Last night after a Celebrate Recovery meeting, I was driving home with my prison ministry partner and somehow she got onto the subject of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Oh, I know...there was a testimony that night and the speaker used the metaphor of a butterfly for her changed life. My friend mentioned the fact that if someone were to assist in the process of the insect fighting to come out of the cocoon-to hasten the process by snipping the sac open, the butterfly would never develop its wings. It absolutely relies on the fight getting out of the cocoon to force blood into the wings and strengthen the muscles needed to stretch them to their full span. Several years back, in a period of despondency, I walked down to our local library and noticed two Cecropias in the bushes, seeking shade in the middle of the day. I was so stunned I ran home to grab a camera and I photographed them. Shortly thereafter we must have been doing a Sunday school lesson in church, but the subject was trust, and the example given was the emergence of a Cecropia from a cocoon and how someone tried to help it by circumventing the struggle. I have one photograph of the moths I saw that day in a frame and a copy of that Bible study under it in my art studio.

I think this is the theme of my life. I have wondered to myself oftentimes if God is trustworthy to run my life. In the prison yesterday I asked the ladies this question. I've had so many periods of struggle, most not of my doing, just life happening-losing a parent in my teen years, having a severely handicapped brother and losing him in my 20's, another parent who struggled with alcohol, losing our first home after I was married, constant financial struggles, my son now in prison...I asked the women-what tells you someone deserves your trust? The answer primarily was, they are consistently there for me. I think it takes huge love and trust to allow someone you love to struggle for their own good without trying to rescue them. I've relied on God actively since my teens, and really, I'm sure so often He must have wanted to take the holy scissors and snip open my tough skin of unbelief and mistrust. But patiently He waited and gave opportunity for my wings to stretch. I will fly back to Him one day, fully confident, hopefully having learned this lesson as His child, a human being and a parent myself.


Blogger jules said...

Very powerful imagery.

11:30 AM  

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