Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A caterpillar's heart

Recently I chanced upon an old friend at a work event. We had lost touch, and it took us a while to place one another. After a few attempts at "did you work here?" and "are you involved in such and such a cause" he hit upon the connection. We had studied psychology together at Macquarie University back in 1995. 

He showed me pictures of his children, and we reminisced about those carefree, and occassionally not so carefree, days of our youth. Then, out of the blue, he told me that he had remembered me as a beautiful soul, somebody he had admired. My reaction at the time was delight and surprise, as I saw such high praise as representing how i had hoped to be, but not who i was. I had thought of myself more as somebody who was not yet fully formed, a chrysalis, if you will. And I still think I have a long way to go before I emerge triumphant and colourful from my cocoon. There are so many ways that I could be more compassionate, more considered and more humble.

butterfly image on a handmade card

In pondering this matter, and thinking of many old friends who are still incredibly important to me, I was reminded me of a poem my mother wrote in my autograph book when I was about ten years old. These autograph books were kindof like the facebook of the 1980's. You took it around to everyone you knew and they wrote thoughtful, complimentary or funny things in it. Mum's message has stayed with me, even though the autograph book has been long since lost, because of the beauty of the words she wrote: 

"A caterpillar's heart still beats in every butterfly. Inside you are always you. Inside you are always you". -
I like to think that, even as we grow and change, we are the same person on the inside and that's why it's so easy to pick up a phone conversation as if two decades had not passed, or camp together as if still in our 20s. 

As my new-old friend and I talked in the car on the way home, about lots of deep and spiritual matters, I caught a glimpse of that beautiful soul being re-awakened, of the person I had always hoped to become. With this new-found sense of my own beautiful soul, I feel encouraged to go about life seeking out that beauty in others, or to use the Quakerly quote "walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in everyone". I intend to be brave enough to tell people about their beautiful soul when I particularly notice it, because life is short and we are all precious.

Aspirational street art in Surry Hills

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