Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Inner Maze of Waiting

We sat on the porch, musing about our coming empty nest, brainstorming about things for my husband to do as I set about building a new career and pursue some well established new directions. Yet even I am finding this waiting stage strange. I am excited about new possibilities, grieving things and ways of living left behind, and absorbed in helping release my two emerging butterflies from their chrysalids. Two weeks ago they were my sparrows, now they are my butterflies, in some ways still struggling to break free of the confining boundaries of their cocoon/chrysalids. These daughters are starting out on the big road of life in a new bigger way. Yet my husband and I are also working through these stages of transformation ourselves.

I love the butterfly/transformation message so much that I wrote a whole thesis about it for my Master of Religious Education twenty five years ago. It is indeed a universal symbol, not just for Christians, but something deeply embedded and understood in the human psyche. It doesn't take much for us to love a butterfly symbol for tattoos or jewellery, lawn stakes or placemats, clothing or wall plaques....we feel that little rush of delight in its beauty, its joy and message, that it really is possible to become new, to undergo complete transformation.

Sue Monk Kidd, in her book, When the Heart Waits, expressed it this way:

I found myself staring at the chrysalis, at this lump of brown silence. It overwhelmed me with its simple truth. A creature can separate from an old way of existence, enter a time of metamorphosis, and emerge to a new level of being. ..In that moment it struck me clearly that the waiting process actually has three distinct phases that need to be maneuvered: separation, transformation, and emergence. I knew that I had come upon the inner maze of waiting.


Probably the biggest lesson I am learning in this inner maze is to rest and trust, to not need to know the way out of the maze, for me or for my dear ones. I have come as far as I have in this particular transformation because I learned to wait and let things develop naturally. However much I chafed at the slowness of that process, in hindsight of course I saw how each stage was so necessary.

Yes, God does indeed "make all things new". That is His delight. However, it doesn't mean that he does it instantly, like a magician. He takes the time He needs, the time we need, whether we think we do or not.

And He brings His wonderful law of spiritual ecology into full force during that slow process:

Romans 8:28.
" And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

I remind myself, as I write these words, of God's continuous message to us all, His wonderful, terrible declaration:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55: 8-10

God is in charge. He has His way of bringing about His plans in our lives, which interweaves with our own longings and desires. While we wait in the inner maze, He works mysteriously, using natural processes but according to His ways and thoughts. Like the caterpillar who enters a chrysalid, we surrender to death to our ways and enter the maze of waiting, and if we wait patiently enough, in His time we emerge into the transformation needed, and wonderfully possible, in whatever phase of our lives we are.

2 comments:

Marilyn said...

May God grant us the ability to enjoy the process.No small thing, that.It seems always to be a skill worth cultivating. Good stuff here, Meg!

Belinda said...

Oh, Meg, I enjpyed reading this. There is much to chew on that reimforces patience and hope.

As one that longs to learn "new ways," but knows that only God can be the transformative One, I loved being reminded that God can and will change us into his image if we only wait and continue to ask and trust.