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Butterfly Medicine. (Notes from the soupy in-between.)

For the past three weeks, I have been seeing butterflies everywhere. I’m always up for the mysterious brand of wisdom that comes through signs and the Divine often sends me messages via animals. Typically, I pay attention. This time I found myself brushing it aside.

(“Butterflies, really? How cliche. Probably just butterfly season or something.”) 

And then I checked into an Airbnb with nothing on the walls except three paintings of butterflies. And THEN a butterfly landed on my face while I was sitting on a rock in the woods, thinking about life. On my FACE. Just landed its little self there, being beautiful and beating its wings in a slow, rhythmic expression of serenity.

(“Okay, fine. I’ll look into this whole butterfly thing.” )

We all know her story because it gets repeated to us again and again — she is, after all, the transformation poster child — but let’s just pause and sit with the miracle that is metamorphosis. Really. Take this in:

When the caterpillar has eaten enough to make her strong and ready, she takes the incredibly brave step of turning herself into a chrysalis. It’s a suicide of sorts, as she covers herself in a substance that comes right out of her body and begins to engulf her and liquify her. She dissolves completely into a soup; entirely unrecognizable. You can’t tell what she was, or what she will become. Nobody knows how, but the cells in this mush are completely reorganized and the body, legs and head of a butterfly are formed.

She dies. To become new. And is rewarded with a phenomenal set of wings.

I’m in that soupy place. After months of trying to hold it together, I finally surrendered to the dissolving. (It took an injury that quite literally brought me to my knees; a story for another time.) I unraveled into not-knowingness. Into the dark of the in-between. Between homes, between loves, between fully functioning knees, between iterations of my work. All the parts of me are here — everything I’ve been, everything I desire to be— yet it still feels… formless. Not yet reorganized.

But Mother Nature is sending me butterflies, as though she is whispering in my ear, “It’s okay, Beloved. There are times when you have no idea who you are. We are doing something new here. It’s mysterious but natural and there’s really nothing wrong. It might feel confusing, but on the other side? It will be SO worth it.”

And in the meantime, there’s nothing to do but show up soupy. As I obsessively watched time-lapse butterfly videos, I noticed her courage and her willingness. She doesn’t fight or judge any step of her incredibly intense process. No drama or fanfare — she wraps herself up, goes inside, comes apart, rearranges, emerges.

No use resisting the mushy space waiting on the wings. Make peace — make love, even — with the in-between. Because a lot of days it’s uncomfortable, but I can still work and laugh and cook and kiss and hike and eat chocolate and drive with the wind in my hair, shifty insides and all.

And I can write. I pondered how best to be fully with my rearranging without rushing it. There’s a fascinating thing: before the butterfly bursts forth, the chrysalis becomes TRANSPARENT.  “Use your new voice,” came the directive. “How else will you get to know it?”  So here I am, living and witnessing the unfolding reassembly, piece by piece. Word by word. Willing — grateful– for you to witness it too.


1 comment

  • Kit

    “No use resisting the mushy space waiting on the wings. Make peace — make love, even — with the in-between.” Making love with the mushy space… I am in simultaneously joy and resistance here and I thank you for all of it. Yes please. Thank you love.

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