No more will he be trying to hide from inquisitive children who find him fascinating and hold him much too tight. No more will he barely miss the soles of heavy feet as he tries to cross the sidewalks. Yes – today is the beginning of a new life. For today, Clyde is going to begin to be transformed.
As Clyde decides the large maple leaf tucked near the curve of a branch beyond the reach of a large child, a teacher looking for examples of nature’s miracles, or gusty afternoon winds, he makes himself comfortable. Quite talented, Clyde hangs upside down on the leaf and begins to spin himself an amazing cocoon, in which he will hide for the next two weeks or so.
Now, Clyde the caterpillar isn’t aware of all the mumbo-jumbo, but now inside his comfy, cozy and protective ‘cubby’, known as the pupa or chrysalis – Clyde will transform into something amazing. Sort of like a very long magic show.
Photo by © Sherri Woodbridge 2011
Clyde will lose his stubby little legs and trade them in for two long and slender ones. His bulging biceps will somehow become delicate wings that will enable him to float and flitter about, taking him to unimaginable new heights among his familiar world. He will develop a long tongue that drinks of a flower’s nectar – flowers of plants he use to chew up one side and then down the other. Two antennae from which to smell will emerge from his head where before there were two microscopic ‘smellers’, instead.
It has been almost two weeks. The cocoon shakes. Clyde has finished his work and is ready to reappear.
His muscles have disappeared and he is soft and weak. Only by repeatedly beating his new-found wings will he become stronger. As he flaps and flutters his wings in a flurry of excitement, his senses acclimatize themselves to the surroundings where he has reappeared and blood and oxygen begin to fill his system so that he is able to function properly. Clyde keeps at this ritual for about an hour, when he is then ready to leave his little cocoon and begin his new life.
What does all that have to do with Parkinson’s disease?
Sometimes it seems there has to be more to this life than living and dying. A popular Christian recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, wrote a song based on that idea…
“And there’s more to this life, than living and dying
More than just trying to make it through the day.
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see
And there’s more than this life alone can be.”
Swallowtail Butterfly, © Sherri Woodbridge 2011
And truly, there is. So often, we who struggle with different aspects of having a chronic disease, can often wonder what that ‘more’ is. Some days it’s all we can do to make it through this day and on to the next one. Maybe it’s the physical aspect – the slowing down, the falling, the intense pain, the shaking. Maybe it’s the mental – the forgetfulness, the slurred speech, the effects of the medication on the other parts of our brain. Or maybe it’s the emotional – the ups and downs, the what-ifs and the fears.
There is more. While we flounder in our faith, we hold onto hope. A hope that says a cure is coming. And while we wonder when that cure will get here, through the days, months, and perhaps even years of waiting for that day, we trust in a mighty God who keeps His promises. Promises that claim constant companionship.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6
Promises that claim His sovereignty in a chaotic world…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11
Cabbage White Butterfly, © Sherri Woodbridge, 2011
Promises that claim His strength in our weakness…
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses… in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10
You see, it is in the waiting – in the chrysalis stages of living – where we are changed. In the pain and through it. In the heartache over having this disease (or some other one). It is in the stage where we realize how fragile, frail, weak, and weary we are where we are made strong. It is when we don’t give up hope and we fight to live. We flap our wings and while we may not fly to new heights physically, mentally we can…
…those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Is 40:31
When we start out in life, we are much like Clyde, just lumbering along, minding our own business and then poof! Someone squashes us (not literally). Being ‘squashed’ can be…. we get bad news, someone we love passes away, we’re told we have Parkinson’s disease or a loved one has Alzheimer’s.
That is the perfect place in which to wrap up in the Lord’s cocoon – his protection – and rest in Him. When we stay close and allow Him to protect and cover us, He transforms us into something much, much more beautiful. The result is worth the wait, even if the twelve days turn into twelve months that might turn into twelve years. During the process, we can come out of the other side perfected if we will choose to trust during the transformation.
I see it every day among people with Parkinson’s and I know it – the transformation – exists in people with other chronic and or terminal diseases, other illnesses and… let’s not forget – caregivers.
If you’re reading this – don’t give up. Don’t give in. There is more to this life than living and feeling as if you’re dying. You have a large part in the living. You may not believe it, you may not feel it – but you do. A very important part. As you walk through this time of ‘chrysalis-ness’, a time of transformation, of trusting Him to be there, to guide, to carry and hold you – just hang in there – like Clyde did. It won’t be long before this transformation is complete and you will have emerged a beautiful and strong new creation, flitting about with new wings. I know. I’ve seen it happen.
Journeying with you,
Monarch Butterfly, © 2011 Sherri Woodbridge