I pay close attention now to the seasons of my inner year. They don’t always match the outside summer or winter, and they keep their own mysterious, uneven rhythm. Though I can’t predict what comes next or when, I started giving some of them names to help recognize their arrival. Among others, my soul seasons include: Wait, Molting, Releasing, Surrender, Leap/Aha, and Cataclysm. But one of my favorite names so far is “Butterfly Mush.”

Maybe you’ll know what I mean when I describe it. To me, Butterfly Mush stands for the time between– liminal space, deep inner change without knowing why, a season of “what the heck is happening to me and what comes next?” I coined the name after the part in the butterfly life cycle between caterpillar and emergence as butterfly. What goes on in there, anyway? A few of my friends admit that as curious children they sliced open chrysalis or cocoon to find out what was inside. What did they find?

They found soupy ooze inside the chrysalis. No form, just goo. Not caterpillar, not butterfly. Soup. “Butterfly Mush” sounds less queasy, but still awfully messy to live with if you’ve found it in your heart lately. Not young, not old… soup. Not naive, not sure… sticky goo. Not what I worked hard to master, not yet something else… feeling lost.

Like me, I wonder whether the caterpillar thinks the world ended when she built her little house on some urge to get introspective, and then everything turned inside out and fluid. Why would God allow us to dissolve like that? From the front side, for me it feels unfair at best and usually terrifying. From the back side, I see the miracle in the mush: the ooze of Mystery and Unknowing that loosens what I knew for sure and opens me to transformation. All the DNA and nutrients and grace are in that little chrysalis, swimming around and recombining until the time for a new shape and the astonishment of flight.

When I painted Potential, above, I started with the black, angry and unsure strokes of frustration, feeling lost, taut with longing, lacking all clarity. By morning, the first piece of wing wanted to shine out of that “failure” of a painting. Maybe by next month I’ll fly again– until it’s time for Leap, Molting, Cataclysm, or another season of Butterfly Mush.

–Melanie

 Art print available

©Melanie Weidner 2008