a cocoon of kindness

Thank you that the baby is napping!

My heart’s song and prayer right now as a weary mom who longs to create but needs to clean and is left with little mental or physical energy for either after the Easter weekend sugar crash. Desserts, candy, chocolate, casseroles, cakes.

Come Monday, a messy house staring back at me.

This weekend I felt a little like the Very Hungry Caterpillar from Eric Carle’s book. Not that I was actually that hungry this weekend, but when offered food prepared with love by my mom and my mother-in-law I ate and ate and said sure and yes and thank you.

Wish it turned me into that beautiful butterfly at the end of the weekend instead of a sluggish, cranky, + 5 pounds mom.

But anyways…praise the Lord for Ivan’s lengthy nap time right now.

I open my hands to receive any kindness God might give. Nap time I feel is a major kindness.

Easter Sunday I was not exactly feeling exuberant about new life and miracles and spring time ressurection.

We showed up late to church. Normally we attend early service and therefore I had the start time of late service wrong.

Then despite a late arrival, Jeff and the baby snuck out mid-sermon too, for a bottle feeding break.

My parents, whom we usually sit with on Sundays, were home feeling under the weather.

And all afternoon felt like a game of baby-tag between Jeff and I.


you’re it

you change the diaper

your turn to feed him…

But among the daily parenting duties and my introverted exhaustion that came on Sunday from back to back family functions on Friday and Saturday, I did find a gentle grace, a soft place where understanding is deep and wide and lets my heart hide inside of it.

I found it in the pastors sermon revolving around Matthew 11:28-29

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
— Matthew 11:28-29

It wasn’t the Easter sermon I had expected but it was the exact sermon I needed.

And we come to God. And He wraps us up over and over and over again in a protection of his deep understanding and forgiveness. When we feel done. When we feel finished. We are allowed to wait on Him and with Him; to eventually emerge from the tomb together, still with scars, evidence of life taking it’s toll, but also with a banner of love over us that reads whole and beautiful, no matter how anyone else may label us.

On Easter morning Oliver and I spot a large butterfly-looking-moth next to the glass door.

Slowly I slide open the door, guessing it will fly away but hoping it won’t. It’s so big!

But it didn’t flutter off and when I ask Jeff to move it an inch or two onto the wooden porch it’s wings open and it rests for a while.

Maybe it is wounded? But anyways, I take pictures with my phone and we all ooooo and awe over it.

And when we’re about to leave for church, after I’ve put the baby in Jeff’s vintage Easter outfit, pulled out my iron and actually ironed my outfit for the first time in over a year, made Oliver change his hand-me-down shorts a few times to find ones that don’t fall off, only to find none of them really fit yet but oh well, and “I’ll just hold them up” says Oliver.

After the scrambling to get ready we take one last look at the moth and it flies away in front of us.

All four of us staring out the glass door, eyes surprised.

I later post the picture on Instagram and Facebook “a pretty Butterfly on my back porch this morning.”

Did you know I used to be a 4th grade science and social studies teacher?

Let’s just say my students probably had many chances to correct me, fact check me and teach me too! And the Principal who hired me loved science. She was a former science teacher herself. On Sunday she comments on my photo “Beautiful Polyphemus moth”. Laughs. Which later leads me to look up more information about the Polyphemus moth and the difference between butterflies and moths. Also, Polyphemus ; a reference to Greek mythology and a one-eyed monster/cyclops! My beautiful Easter morning butterfly visitor is really a moth named after a one-eyed monster. Still, it felt like a gift or a sign; one that was pretty and personal and meaningful.

One Instagram comment captured how I felt, from my Sister-in-law’s Grandma. I call her Nonnie just like my sister does, and she is like a Grandmother to me too.

I think this was The Lord sending His Love to you on this Easter morning Melissa.In all my days I have never seen such a beautiful butterfly.
— Nonnie on Instagram

Thank you Nonnie, and I felt that way too.

It was fun to read and learn a bit about nature today, and coincidentally today is Earth day too.

A few basic things I learned about the difference between moths and butterflies;

  • moths make a cocoon and butterflies make a chrysalis

  • moths tend to be nocturnal and butterflies diurnal

  • moths often look fuzzy or furry

  • moths have a feathery antenna and butterflies have a thin antenna

  • moths often rest with wings open and butterflies usually rest with wings closed

Did you catch that first fact? About butterflies not making cocoons! It’s the moth that spins the silk around to create the cocoon!

On a few different websites, after sharing this fact, they all referenced Eric Carle’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar and noted the incorrect ending to the story. The butterfly emerging from a cocoon instead of a chrysalis. Which led me to Eric Carle’s webpage and his response to this common question about his book. I kind of love his response and totally relate. Basically he doesn’t take himself so seriously. He simply chose poetry over science when he wrote the children’s book.

That’s a good question.

Here’s the scientific explanation: In most cases a butterfly does come from a chrysalis, but not all. There’s a rare genus called Parnassian, that pupates in a cocoon. These butterflies live in the Pacific Northwest, in Siberia, and as far away as North Korea and the northern islands of Japan.

And here’s my unscientific explanation: My caterpillar is very unusual. As you know caterpillars don’t eat lollipops and ice cream, so you won’t find my caterpillar in any field guides. But also, when I was a small boy, my father would say, “Eric, come out of your cocoon.” He meant I should open up and be receptive to the world around me. For me, it would not sound right to say, .“Come out of your chrysalis.” And so poetry won over science!
— Eric Carle

I tend to lean towards the poetry too.

During the 40 days of lent I had some specific things I was praying for and hoping for. And towards the end of the 40 days when I was reading through Emily P. Freeman’s new book The Next Right Thing in chapter 12 “Be Where You Are” a line from the prayer at the end of the chapter stood out to me.

As we move forward in the midst of where we are, help us to believe you even though we can’t see you. May we not demand a spectacle, a miracle, or a sign. May we simply, quietly, be still and know.
— The Next Right Thing by Emily P Freeman

In my heart I hope for the signs and the miracles, and when they come I am grateful. Like the beautiful moth on Easter morning. But also, I think it’s important to have this posture and attitude too; not demanding things from God and yet not holding back our hopes and prayer requests from Him either. Finding that balance of releasing our desires to Him and having open hands to whatever daily provisions and evidence of His presence we might experience and find.

6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
— John 20:6-7