FMM 11 25 22 Metamorphosis

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” ~ Lao Tzu.

When I was a teenager, one of my sisters, who was already in nursing school, came home to Jamaica to visit.  She brought presents for us, and mine was a big, shiny, coffee-table type illustrated book of human anatomy.  At the time I would have been taking ‘General Science’ at school, learning about the water cycle and other basic scientific phenomena.  This book hooked me to my intention (well known to my family since I was quite young) to become a nurse, and gave me a peek into the inner workings of the human body.  Some names have changed since then.  We no longer refer to the gastro-intestinal tract as the ‘Alimentary Canal’.  The upper chambers of the heart are now called atria, not auricles.  And I am sure many scientific discoveries have changed the way we see the immune system, the endocrine system, and more.

In high school (under the British system), in fourth form (ninth grade)
we had to choose the subjects we would be examined in at the end of fifth form.  At the time these were ‘Cambridge, Ordinary level’ exams, external exams set and graded outside of the island.  Biology was one of my eight subjects, and we had the added adventure of dissecting frogs (which we had to catch ourselves!).  Our subject choices were tricky, as they were somewhat dependent upon what teachers were available.  We would have to take the core subjects like English and Mathematics, but Math teachers were never easy to come by, and we very well may be taught by someone whose specialty was actually History, or Physics, or French! In my case those were the actual teachers I had for the two years leading up to the exams.

In the higher grades we chose three ‘Advanced Level’ subjects, and here the closest I could get to my intended profession was Zoology. I also chose Geology and Geography just for the love of those subjects, and the knowledge that they had the best field trips! Wading through the waters of the local ‘Suttons River’ or entering the caves of Lluidas Vale were great escapes from the classroom!  In Zoology I learned about plants and animals, though not much has stuck.  We had to be able to state the kingdom, phylum, class, order and much more (I had to use the Google to even remember that much!).  Geology I found much more satisfying, especially since there was a link between the naming of the different rock formation eras and some of the ancient Welsh tribes.  North Wales (where my ancestors were born) contains many of the rock formations that have fascinated geologists and rock climbers for centuries.  The area of the Snowdonia National Park is full of history, mystery, myth, legend and stark mountainous beauty.

I recently had a dream in which I was told I had to prepare a presentation about my life, and compare it to the life cycle of a butterfly.  This of course sent me back to my computer, to make sure I remembered the phases correctly.  Those Zoology classes are now almost fifty years in my rearview mirror, so I cannot trust myself to get them straight!  But it is an interesting thought, to see if any of the phases of our life, of our personal growth and development, could be compared to the apparently quiet phase of the pupa (or the more elegant name: chrysalis) and then the emergence of that most exciting of creatures, the butterfly.

I used that dream to inform my message this morning. I realized that there was a period of my adult life when I felt as if I had withdrawn, had almost shut down.  Life consisted of necessary acts: of going to work; of maintaining a household; of family responsibilities; but there was little going on in the way of internal growth, of exploration or discovery.  I am sure many working parents feel this way.  When there are bills to be paid, groceries to be bought, the emphasis is on the here and now, one day at a time.

But children grow up, and opportunities appear.  It is possible to go back to school after thirty years, even to change careers and recharge your internal batteries.  Like the chrysalis, it may seem that you are motionless, resting, yet within that shapeless sac work is being done, the roots of change are developing, the hints of growth are peeping out.  For me it was that return to university, a choice I had opted away from in my arrogance of youth.  I knew I wanted to be a nurse.  Schools of nursing belonged in hospitals, why would I go to university?  Years later I learned how much the profession of nursing, the discipline of nursing, had grown and developed over the years.  My ignorance gave me humility and respect for the work done by others while I was in my chrysalis.

I was once told that there are two types of researchers: the butterfly that darts from topic to topic, never settling for long on any one flower; and the spider. The spider links subjects that seem to be far apart and unrelated, and brings them within one orbit.  I have to confess that although the spider is the less beloved creature, I am partial to those webs that connect us, that link disparate experiences and form a theme.  I love the thought of our lives as braided sweetgrass, woven tapestries that link us to those we have met along the way, and those we never met, but have changed our lives regardless.

On this Friday morning, I hope you will see how you emerged from your chrysalis to become the best version of you.  I hope that you can see how your life has intersected with so many interesting and inspiring people. I hope that you have also had the opportunity to be the one that changed the trajectory of someone else’s life.  Or else, why are we here?

Have a wonderful weekend, Family!

One Love!


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