Monday, September 2, 2013

Message from a caterpillar

As I walked this morning, I saw two caterpillars.  The first caught my eye in a rather spectacular way, as it was suspended in the air in front of me, directly in line with my intended path.  When I first  spotted it, it appeared to be wriggling around rather chaotically, as if struggling to save itself, however, as I got closer and stopped to watch it, I could see its movements were purposeful and were enabling it to move slowly upward on a filament that was invisible to me, but was obviously very apparent to the caterpillar.

I watched it for several moments, marveling at its strength and continued striving to pull itself higher. The tree branch to which its filament was attached was at least fifteen feet above us, so it had a very long climb ahead.   Feeling empathy for it because of the arduousness of its impending climb, I decided to move it and save it the grueling journey, so I moved my hand in the air about a foot above it, catching the filament I couldn't see on my hand, and gently moving the caterpillar to a tree branch on the side of the driveway, not even thinking as I did so, that I had just diverted it from its original destination. 

I watched it settle itself on the branch and turned to continue  my walk, feeling I had done a good deed, when I heard this quiet voice in my head ask, "Did you really help?"  "What do you mean?" I asked.  "Of course I helped.  It would have taken forever for it to get to the top of that filament, if it had made it at all.  (I had seen a cardinal swoop toward it as I walked up to it. I think my approach diverted it from its intended target.)  And think of the energy and effort it would take for that little caterpillar to climb that high!  It would have exhausted itself.  Of course I  helped it."  (And of course, this conversation was all in my head, but this is often how I hear God, and how we converse; how I often receive the Guidance that directs my life.)

But as I continued walking, I couldn't help but think about that question:  did I help?  Or did my actions keep that caterpillar from getting the experiences it needed to be prepared for what was to come?

As I've thought about all the glitches that have occurred during this move, I've often thought that each of them has served a purpose in some way, even if I haven't stopped to analyze each and every one of them at the time they happened to determine what that purpose might be. (And perhaps the purpose is in the culmination of all of them together, and not in each and every one separately.)  

I have this deep down feeling they've been happening purposefully to prepare me for what's ahead.  And I don't mean they're preparing me for more glitches.  I think they're helping me to recognize and strengthen the skills and abilities that I have, develop others that perhaps I'm not aware of, and to show me that I have the resources I need, whether within myself, or by asking for help from others (being able to ask for help is not something I do easily, so having experiences that give me the opportunity to do so, will make it easier for me to consider asking for help as an option to solve a problem, rather than viewing it as a weakness in myself), that will assist me in the days and weeks ahead as I continue to walk this path. 

Caught up in the moment when each of the glitches happens, it's much harder to consider that there is purpose in the happening.  But as I look back, I can see they have served me.  I am stronger and more resilient, much more likely to go with the flow than to  get angry or frustrated as each new glitch appears.  Often now I just laugh and shake my head. (Depends on the nature of the glitch, of course!)  And as I think about it, it was the looking back on my life in the early 90's and seeing how each thing lead to another, and that they had all connected to get me where I was that day when I was 
considering my life and wondering how I'd managed to make it that far, that brought me to the beginning of my belief that there had to
be 'something' that was guiding and supporting me, even if I couldn't see it, just like that filament, invisible to me, that was supporting that caterpillar.   

As I walked, I wondered, who would I be, where I would be, if somehow, someway, all along this journey, a Divine hand had appeared and removed all of the glitches, just like I moved that caterpillar to what I thought was a safer, better place than suspended in mid-air.  Would I have been able to leave Holy Family when the Blessed Mother told me I needed to? (Would I even have believed what I was seeing/hearing?)  Would I have been strong enough to do the healing work I needed to do with my mom during those last four years of her life as I was working to  
build my Reiki practice?  Would I have had the courage to drive to Alaska, just because that small voice in my head said, "You need to drive to Alaska?"  Would I have been able to close my office, leave all my friends and the wonderful community of people that supported me in Pittsburgh, and move to Nashville?  There is no way to know for sure, but somehow I doubt it.

There's an old song that has a line in it that says, "I thank God for unanswered prayers."  How often do we pray and ask God to take away whatever problem or illness or stress we are experiencing, thinking we'd be so much better off if it would just all go away, whatever it is.  And when it doesn't happen, certain that we're now worse off because we still have to deal with it, we get angry, or assume God isn't listening, or doesn't care, or perhaps, doesn't even exist.  And yet, who would we be if our prayers had been answered?  Would we be able to do the things we are currently doing?  Would we be where we are now?  I wonder what difference I have made in that caterpillar's journey because I 'saved' it from that long and difficult climb. 

As I continued walking, I did eventually see a second caterpillar, but its appearance was as unspectacular as the first one's was amazing. I happened to glance down as I was walking, and it was simply crawling slowly along the asphalt.  However, the 
appearance of that second caterpillar (In my experience, God often sends the messengers in multiples to insure that we recognize they are messengers.) made me think that I needed to look up caterpillar as totem when I got back home and see if there was any particular message I was supposed to derive from my encounters with them today.  Imagine my surprise when I looked it up and read: "Preparation for upcoming change: transformation."  I guess that little voice in my head knew what it was talking about, when it asked the question: "Did you really help?"  Next time I see a caterpillar suspended in mid-air, or anywhere else for that matter, I think I'll send Reiki to its journey but leave it just where it is!


  1. I don't know about caterpillars, but I have heard that if one "helps" a butterfly break out of its cocoon, the butterfly will die. The butterfly needs the struggle of breaking the cocoon so its wings will be strong enough for it to fly. I have come to believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I also believe that I would not be where I am now without the help of countless friends, and even help from those I do not know. It can be difficult to know if what we would call "help" is in the best interest of the one we think we are helping. Perhaps our "you can fix this" response kicks in, especially if it is someone we love. Perhaps it is in the best interest of all concerned if we stop for a moment and listen to see if we can discern if our "help" is needed, wanted, or necessary. Something to think about.

    1. Yes, that's true about the butterfly. And I do believe there are times when we should help, and times we shouldn't, times we should ask for help, and times we should do things on our own. That's where developing our discernment, and learning to ask for, and hear the Guidance we receive, is essential. But I also have to remember that EVERYTHING happens for a reason, so whatever the outcome, it was what all parties ultimately needed anyway. It's sometimes just difficult to keep that in mind and not beat ourselves up when the outcome of our choice is other than what we expected.