I recently read an article about all the animals that go through metamorphosis and found myself comforted and amazed in ways I never imagined I would be.
Who knew Creation is filled with amazing metamorphosis stories beyond the butterfly (including my own)? Who knew about the immortal jellyfish, the crown-of-thorns starfish, and the flatfish?
From puberty to perimenopause, most of us have been taught to brace ourselves and just get to the other side of things.
Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
I’m struck with our collective fascination over the “end product” and “arriving.” We are obsessed with happy endings and stories that tie up. We want accounts of triumph, not loss. And yet, from the moment we are born, we are growing older and changing; we are losing what was and receiving what will be. Did you know that your skin replaces itself with a new layer every 27 days? According to scientists who are smarter than me, it’s just layers of skin, but the cells in our bodies are in a constant state of change. With time, we lose elasticity and melanin, and we lose friends and family. Things begin to stretch and ache, and yet, we try to keep moving towards an elusive destination. Yet what time in life on earth is free of change except for death?
The last five years have knocked me down, and while it seems like everyone around me has recovered from the pandemic and other things we went through collectively, I have found myself on the other end in an ongoing journey of grief and back-to-back seasons of loneliness. I still grieve the ways community changed, the friendship break from over a year ago that still aches in my body, the wrestling of faith communities, and the struggle of someone I love that never seems to change no matter how I pray or what we eat. I hate telling my friend that I’m still in the same place when we meet to walk or sit and talk over coffee.
Has everyone moved on? God, how long? Will I survive this dark cocoon?
Here’s what I am learning through tears: we are held in the dark.
Light is easy to miss when we are bathed in it. But in the dark, we cling to the Light in an unsurpassed way.
Maybe the longer these unraveling changes last in the dark, the more I fear I will lose the Light. But John wrote, “The Light shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it or put it out” (John 1:5, First Nations Version).
I meditate on these words and think about them in new ways. Instead of the need to prove I have access to Light by way of triumphant stories or a plastered-on smile, I can rest in being held by the Light wherever I am.
In the dark, we are not only found by Light, we come to know Light in a new and deepened way. Maybe that’s the point after all. Because if we never spend time in the dark and resist our own transformation and all the darkness that accompanies it, we may find ourselves among those who bathe in, identify with, and proclaim the Light, but never truly know it or are changed by it.
In my grief, the Light stays with me.
In my changes and aging, the Light accompanies me.
In my bitterness, the Light soothes me.
In my unknowing, the Light provides a path.
When I feel stuck in a dark cocoon, Light warms me.
When I fear losing the Light, Light holds me.
When I think things will never change, Light shines anyway, unbothered.
When I feel alone in the changes, Light never leaves.