• Brynne Betz

Wednesday Wish (170); Feeling Our Way Through These Chrysalis Times

Updated: Nov 23, 2021


photo via google images/zme science


The warm Southern air soothed all my rough edges just as it always did, a slight breeze awakening the thin film of shine on my neck, giving me a shiver. I looked up from my writing to watch the black-eyed susans flutter in the breeze, their bright yellow petals drinking up the sun like little sunshines themselves. Cicadas hummed. An indigo bunting landed on an okra plant. For a moment in time, I was at peace with my surroundings, my world, my life.


A gentle knock on the glass and a wave of a hand invited me to turn around. Slowly, I did and there, less than ten feet from where I sat, was a bobcat. She was silent, creeping like an enormous wild housecat. We had often thought we heard their calls at night but never expected to see one. They were said to be too elusive, never showing their beautiful coats or their deeply seeing eyes to most anyone. But there she was. In our garden. Her body was thick and muscular, her head much wider and larger than I expected it would be, and the way she moved drew me in like a silent, powerful magnet. Why was she suddenly here in the middle of the day? What drew her here, out of the safety of the darkened woods, into the bright vulnerability of the all-seeing sun?


The next day, John found a big black snake near our back door. Before I could see it, bless his thoughtful soul, he got an old wooden handle from a shovel and shooed it into the woods.


Not an hour later, I was back at my favorite spot on the screened in porch, writing. It was the weekend though, so this time, I wasn’t alone. John joined me with his guitar. Sofia came out with her books. And Clover, our rescue dog, quietly curled up at our feet. We were enjoying our Saturday doing what each of us loved most.


Until I turned my head.


Less than two feet away from me, with more than a foot of his belly pressed up against the screen, was that big black snake. Now, I’ve been told my entire life, even by a few snake aficionados, that snakes are more afraid of me than I am of them. Well, this stared that so-called truth smack dab in the face, proving it dead wrong. Not only was this snake not afraid of people, but it also seemed to like guitar music!


* * *


Google defines chrysalis as a ‘transitional state’, one in which the butterfly splits the hard outer case of the cocoon, transforming from caterpillar into adult, and bringing about the slow unfolding of wings. The caterpillar has no idea she has the potential to be something other than what she is. Yet still, somewhere deep inside her, she knows to weave a cocoon. She knows without knowing. She feels. And she follows what she feels because it’s natural.


What if these are our very own chrysalis times? What if we are each being invited to weave cocoons to enable such a transitional state, to help us transform into something we never envisioned for ourselves? What if the virus, climate change, dwindling resources and ever-rising prices, what if the rise in racism, in hate-crimes, in the ever-present blow-back to the challenge of cultural norms are giving us the signs, the feels, that show us that truth?


What then?

Where do we look if we decide we must weave our cocoons?

How do we even begin?


* * *


The visits from the bobcat and the snake made no sense to my mind. They made no sense to any mind with whom I shared the story. Not to my mother, not to my father, not to my in-laws or my friends. The only one who understood was the child in our family, the one who felt more than she thought. Every time I told the stories of our homegrown Wild Kingdom, she laughed. She laughed when she saw her father shoo the snake into the woods for the second time. She laughed when she heard my confusion about the bobcat being in our backyard. She laughed when she remembered how the snake seemed to sway with the guitar music, with my worries about having at least one snake on our property that wasn’t afraid of people.


Feeling deeply is how we navigate these trying times.

When our brains come up short, we need to remember to look to our feelings.

When we don’t know how to transform ourselves or where to find our wings, we’re not feeling deeply enough. We’re not listening with our hearts, but with our minds.


* * *


Listening to my feelings, the bobcat tells me that these are times to set the hidden parts of ourselves free. It’s no longer healthy for ourselves or the world to hide away our gifts or to stay silent. We must dare to be seen for who we are. We must dare to walk into the bright vulnerability of the light. No matter the cost. For the price of staying silent is now far greater than the risk it takes to be seen.


Listening to my feelings, the snake tells me that when the dark ugly rises to the surface, it too, is moved by music, by love. It too, finally needs and deserves its chance to be seen for what it truly is, its vulnerability exposed. What we shy away from out of fear, may be the exact place we need to look for the gifts we need the most. Maybe what we fear is the only thing that holds us back from sprouting our own forward-flying wings . . .


Now, more than ever.