Most mornings, I pop onto Facebook and read through the postings while I’m eating breakfast. Many of my Facebook friends are people that I went to school with at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and many of them are pastors. So I saw a lot of postings about Holy Week, Good Friday, crucifixion and the meaning of it all, and then bits and pieces about what to do with Holy Saturday – that odd day that sits between the mourning of Good Friday and the Alleluias! of Easter. A current classmate, Hannah Heinzeker has a new blog called The Femonite: Musings from a Mennonite Feminist, and her husband Justin offered a guest blog there about “The Waiting Times of Life” on Saturday.
One of the best books I’ve read during a particularly tough time of waiting is one by Sue Monk Kidd called When the Heart Waits. In it she talks about the necessity of being willing to sit still during those dark “in-between” periods – where we know something has ended but the new life hasn’t quite yet emerged. That’s exactly what Holy Saturday is, and with the Easter perspective we have as Christians that have witnessed Christ’s resurrection, it’s easy to get all comfy in this much-better post- place of life and light. But I can only imagine the shock and grief that pressed down upon Jesus’ disciples and friends after they took his body from the cross.
My home church in Marietta, Georgia is the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, and it’s often used the symbol of the butterfly, as well as the phoenix, since both are strong symbols of resurrection. We all know the basic facts of how the caterpillar goes into a cocoon one day as a caterpillar and emerges some time later as a butterfly. We may even have read emails and web postings about someone who helped cut a butterfly out of its cocoon so it didn’t have to struggle so hard, only to find it couldn’t fly with wings undeveloped by the stress and pressure of struggle. But here’s something you may not know, and I first heard it from Deepak Chopra (and promptly passed it along with great result at a following Mythic Journeys Conference).
While the caterpillar is in the cocoon, its cells start to liquefy, and the caterpillar becomes just a soupy shadow of its former self. Once it is no longer caterpillar and is just soup, particular cells begin the process of coming together that finally forms the beautiful butterfly. And those cells are called imaginal cells. Imaginal! They are called imaginal cells because an adult insect is called an imago. Of course, we can connect these words to imagination, which is the process of forming images. But we can also talk about the imago dei, the image of God, that we were created with and which lies dormant in us in the same way that the imago of the butterfly is already present in the caterpillar.
Maybe the next time you are waiting, mourning the death of one beautiful life while waiting for the new life to emerge, you can begin to imagine the butterfly, the resurrection, that is promised.