The Shivering Chrysalis
When I went into Eloise's classroom on Monday I saw something I had never seen before. The class is hatching Painted Lady Butterflies. The ladies have been in their chrysalises for awhile now, and everyday at drop off we check to see what's happening. Most days it's looked like nothing. The sack hangs there looking dry and lifeless.
But on Tuesday one of them was tremoring, shivering, shaking. It looked to fall right off it's perch--alien moves threatening violence on a tiny scale. I watched for what felt like a long time (how does three or four minutes feel so long when I'm just watching and sitting and breathing and waiting). And it kept right on shaking.
The next day, Tuesday. There it was, but now stock still as if nothing had happened. I had hoped that at night, she would fly out. But no, there were more long days of waiting.
We all know how this story ends. We've known since preschool after all. This thing that alternates between appearing lifeless one day and shaking violently on another, will eventually emerge a Painted Lady, rich with browns and orange. She will fly off like grace itself. The kids will celebrate.
But what I want to remember today is the quivering--the stopping and starting. And it's partner, the quiet ghost sack that hangs there looking more than half dead. And the strange unattractiveness of it all--the icky weird pouch and the raging vibration of life stuck inside its shell. I want to remember that this is what it takes. Stopping and starting, shaking violently, being a little weird and ugly. All that comes before being a butterfly.