Sabbatical Shift: Cocooning
I recently read that a caterpillar in a cocoon essentially turns to mush. Its body becomes soup as its frame is reconstructed inside the safety of its drawn-in walls.
I don’t have some lofty vision of being reconstructed or growing wings or any such nonsense, but I do feel cocooned, cocooning, cocoonish, a compulsion to cocoon. I find myself wanting to draw back, draw in, hunker down in quiet. I am dissolving in a puddle of tired contendedness, moving slowly through the world.
My heart beats calm and steady most of the time, which feels noticeable; the rushes of adrenaline and anxiety, excitement and anticipation, worry and work juggling are far from me, like a dream. Like someone else’s life. I hear friends and colleagues in ministry talking about leading meetings and preparing sermons, and I feel aghast. My first, uncensored thought is, “I could NEVER do that!” – and I find myself momentarily gazing at them with admiration and awe, even though just four weeks ago I was doing all of it too. Right now, though, I wake, and I am here in the moment in front of me pretty much until I lay back down again.
The new puppy helps.
Like my new babies did, she pulls me into the present and demands I stay focused here. Feed, outside to pee, nap, outside to pee, water, outside to pee, play, outside to pee, don’t make plans that take you away from the house for more than two hours, outside to pee.
The biggest things on my horizon today are these:
the kids and husband start school in three days, and I have just started a puzzle.
Fatigue clings to my joints and crowds behind my eyes, and the thought of sending my family off to their first day of school on Tuesday and staring down six unscheduled hours, puppy and me, is vast and delicious and strange and simple.
I assumed I’d immediately call up friends I never see and go places I rarely go the second my days opened up. But instead it appears I want to sleep when I am tired, puppy naps, collapsing down and surrendering for a few minutes, then rising, yawning and stretching, refreshed and ready for what’s next.
I want to eat when I am hungry, unhurried, wholesome food. I want to read when I am bored – remember bored??? I want to feel bored so I can read when I’m bored.
Driving this month with my family to the edge of the continent, and perching for a few days on the edge of an island, I watched the cruise and cargo ships in the distance chug through the sound and out to sea. It animated the image of my congregation bobbing along merrily in a boat far, far away from me. Sails billowing, and way, way too distant for me to overhear any sounds, see any faces, or observe any action, I trust that within that boat they are well; all is well. They are where they should be, and so am I.And when I glance out at them from time to time it slows me down and lets me return into myself and this detached place in which I am dwelling. This place where all my competencies and capabilities seem almost to have melted off me. I feel strength at my inner core, raw, steady and firm, but wrapped in a kind of foggy, soupy mess. And I'm surprised to find that, actually, I am fine with that. It feels nutrient rich and pulsing with quiet life.
Inside the cacoon, I am pretty sure the catepillar isn’t visioning ahead to its butterflyness.
Maybe it’s whistfully thinking back to the milkweed chomping days, but I suspect that, depleted and safe, it is most likely lying still in its own soup, and not really