I love butterflies. When I was working in church ministry, studying theology and a new mom, I would pay attention to them. I would watch our garden and when the butterflies came, I would enjoy them. In church talk, butterflies are a symbol of paschal mystery. Their transformation is a reminder of the whole Jesus transformation…life, death and resurrection. It is an easy comparison for children to grasp when talking about change. It’s a simple visual comparison. I would point out butterflies to my big boy when he was little and tell him that butterflies remind us that “God is with us, always.” I really felt that way.
When Dave got sick I relied heavily on my faith. I prayed for his complete healing. After he died, I figured that my prayer was answered and his complete healing was only possible through his transformation from this place into the next…wherever that may be. I hoped that he was at peace in a place where his body was healed and where no sickness, sadness or death would ever touch him…again, church talk….this was Kingdom theology…a place where a there is a spot prepared for you at the table in the house with many rooms, in the Kingdom of God…it is a spot only for you and you are welcomed joyfully. In this place there is no sickness, sadness or death. In Kingdom theology we are told that we see and experiences glimpses of the Kingdom in this life. We see beauty, experience love, joy, and awe of all these things here in our lives. We can see the Kingdom here and now. I believed whole heartedly in Kingdom theology. When I was a minister, I worked to provide an environment for the glimpses to occur.
After Dave died, I prayed for peace, for signs, for anything to help me with the pain and heartache I felt. Shortly after he died, I bought a new home and moved. The house I chose had a butterfly, one of those craft store items, on one of the peaks of the roof. I thought it was a sign. I saw the butterfly and hoped this home would be a place where I would be transformed. I somehow believed this simple, somewhat tacky butterfly would lead me toward peace. It is still on the roof.
I have been in a cocoon. I have broken through the cocoon in many ways throughout the years. I do not feel transformed. I am different than I was when he died, but I’m not sure that counts. Many days I feel much more like a moth than a butterfly. It is still a metamorphosis, but not as beautiful. As much as I strive for and hope for joy in my life, it still seems just out of reach. I want to feel the beauty of life again. Most days, I’m ok. I am not heartbroken like I was. I laugh, I work, I even sleep well…most nights. I don’t feel like a butterfly yet and I’m beginning to think that all those thoughts, theological theories, and even my faith are a bunch of hooey. I continue to hope, to have faith, to strive for better, to strive for joy, but it just doesn’t arrive.
This time of year I want to stay safely tucked into the cocoon. I want to hide from the season that reminds me of all the things I used to hold so dearly. I withdraw. I isolate myself emotionally. I can’t invest in it anymore because it opens me up to more heartbreak. I am still longing to be transformed into a person whose soul is joyful. I long to be someone who can embrace my pain, but not be taken down by it. It still takes me down. I read something today in another blog about “active waiting”. It is waiting with a watchful eye so that opportunity is not missed…from what I understand. I like this thought. I like it, but it feels like the years since Dave’s death have been all about waiting.
Years ago, I wrote a piece about missing my reflection in Dave’s eyes. I felt somehow validated by knowing that he saw me. I felt like I mattered because someone took a moment to notice me. I have gone years without this. I had it again for a brief moment. I feel so lame saying this, but it mattered. It mattered to be noticed. It mattered to be desired. I was feeling more like a butterfly than a moth. The silly thing is that I know I don’t need a man to notice me to be valid. I know that my work, my life is valid. So, why does life feel empty without someone to share it with? Is it only because I know what I’m missing? I’m not sure.
I know that right now, I am feeling like a long, emotional hibernation in a cocoon would be a good idea. I worry about my aptitude to numb my emotions. I worry that this coping skill I gained as I have walked through widowhood will stain me for a lifetime. I worry that if I look for the butterflies, for the signs, for the grace and awe of God, I will only be hurt again. I worry that if I see myself in a loving reflection again and loose it again, I will be devastated. Maybe, this active waiting will suit me. Maybe I can stay somewhat emotionally numb, but on alert at the same time. It’s so hard to long for transformation that seemingly never arrives. It activates my fantasies of running away from it all….the widowhood, the sole parenting, the financial worries, the stress of the ongoing guilt I carry…all of it. I want a moment of butterfly. I want some moments of beauty. I want some moments when the pressure valve is turned off and I can rest comfortably, safely without worry, without guilt.
I see the butterfly and I remind myself that God is always with me…always…even when I feel so alone and unchanged. I will let the beauty wash over me, even if it is briefly, to remind me that even without a reflection I am valid and can be whole and even be beautiful.
I will wait. I will look for the opportunity. I will be transformed.