I sat under a tree to "have a quiet time". I tried to forcefully wax theological without letting my mind wander and was soon sucked into a battle of meditating without trying to meditate. Focus, focus, focus. …What is deep and profound…No stop trying and just be…be what? Quiet?, reflective? Mo?...who is she anyway? As the rabbit hole got deeper I enjoyed brief moments of respite from this war within. The “silence” was broken intermittently with the sizzle summer days resonant. I can never tell what the snap crackle and pop is all about but something is sizzling. I think birds make that noise. What a way to glorify God. I wonder if they sound pretty to themselves. Or maybe it’s not a bird or insect maybe it’s just how heat sounds. Regardless., the wind would blow or puff on by and there I was, time ticking away and no life-altering thought to account for. Crap! I can’t even “do” quiet time well. I hate feeling overwhelming ugly and inadequate. …not necessarily physically unattractive but the kind of hideous that is born from wanton spiritual disobedience…It comes out of your pores, you know and you can actually see it on your skin like some kind of sticky, black residue that does not quite come off in the wash. It can be debilitating. Not a good look at all. Most times no one can see it but you. Like living in a funhouse with broken mirrors.
So my attention is diverted to the dirty ground as I take inventory on my surroundings and make sure that no insects are on that list. I notice a caterpillar. Small, green, hungry, determined, focused… just eating and crawling and stopping and eating…digging and crawling and eating. That’s all it did the 20 minutes I was there. I suppose that’s all it does most days...I wondered if it was even cognizant of my presence. Was this giant hovering over it something to be feared and avoided? Seemed unlikely because it never skipped a beat. Then there was another caterpillar, darker and moving with much more fervor and resolve. It was a bold little booger moving further and further away from the tree. It seemed anxious…and then there was another, also a bit browner and faster. This one liked to dig. I think this caterpillar thought that if it moved faster and ate more it might speed up the process…It was fat and juicy like the caterpillar from the movie “Ants Life”.
I picked up a stick and in 3rd grade fashion I poked at it. Not to harm it but just to interfere and wonder and I suppose make my presence known. After all, I am the human here... It seemed startled at first. It twisted its agile spaghetti body into a sort of pretzeled 180 degreed turn to make its get away and at another poke it froze. I poked again…I guess it was playing dead; in that moment my satisfaction of dominance was fulfilled and I stopped. I wondered if its little heart was beating extra fast. Do insects even fear death, do they sense it on any level or was this just a guttural survival reaction…fully ingrained and un-abandonable? Anyways, I wonder if the caterpillar is satisfied with being a caterpillar. Does is have any clue of its future? Its impending winged existence? Is it excited and anxious? Does it get mad each day when it wakes up and it’s not time to transform yet only time for more crawling and eating? Are its thoughts so filled with wonder at what it is to become that it never completes the task at hand and just waits? Is it angry at its lack of control? Does it get bored with crawling, digging and eating over and over again day in and day out? Is it perturbed that it can’t just sprout wings overnight and venture out to explore an area larger than a 3ft. perimeter around a tree? Does it ever ask, “How Long O Lord do I have to be a caterpillar?...”. Do caterpillars give up before cocoon time comes thinking that there is no hope?...when maybe that season is right around the corner? How sad it would be to abandon such a beauty simply because it is stuck on ugly…How tragic? Well, I think the caterpillar has an inkling that this is but a season. It may be a simple creature but I bet there is a hint of destiny that pulses through it as it digs, crawls and eats…not forever…just for now.