Sunday, October 16, 2011

the long way around

I woke up this morning earlier than anticipated. I tried to curl back into sleep for rest’s sake but my stubborn mind wouldn’t rest. I stayed nestled in my bed (which continues to be the warmest place in the house since we as a house have refused to turn on the heat) and turned on some music. I found myself reflecting on life and faith and reading old journal entries. I sighed as I remembered so many moments just like this a couple years ago, I call it “cocooning”.

Cocooning was that time I gave myself to just be still and give myself the space to process and grow and the cozier and safer that space was the better. I had just bought this book, When the Heart Waits randomly on a sale table at Powell’s Books purely because she was the writer of my favorite book, The Secret Life of Bees. In this spiritual memoir of sorts she writes about butterflies and cocoons and waiting. I took in her words like a desert to rain. I related with so much of what she had to say but especially to the cocoon. For a time, she recalls being inundated with images of butterflies and cocoons. One instance, she recalls a poster of a butterfly against a great big sky, on it were the words “Your soul is your greatest work of art” and right down in the corner is the husk of an empty cocoon. A painful reminder that bright wings and works of art don’t just happen, they require courage and letting go and a time of becoming. I think the most fascinating thing about cocoons is that on the outside it looks as if nothing is happening and it looks like the caterpillar inside is hiding, but on the inside, change and transformation are taking place. The butterfly is becoming. The cocoon isn’t an escape but a transformation place.

It got me thinking about this season of life that was so painful. There were ways to escape pain sure, but I was making an intentional decision to face it and sit with it. Funny how easy that sentence was to type out but so incredibly difficult to actually do. I think it’s a natural desire to run from pain, to numb out or pretend it’s not there. It’s so easy to want to arrive, to be at a point where it doesn’t hurt anymore, where everything is perfect and just so. I had spent most of my life thinking if I don’t look at my pain then all would be well. Sure, it worked for a while but you know what? I still knew it was there and my fear of it just grew. When dealing with our wounds, it takes time.

“We went onto heaven the long way around.” -Henry David Thoreau

I love this quote, so much.

Makes me think of something I find myself saying often. The most rewarding things in life take time to build and grow. Most people want heaven now, like every other pleasure in life, instant happiness. Taking the long way isn’t seen as desirable but I would argue that it’s the only way to truly live. It’s long and arduous and oftentimes painful, but there is so much more wisdom to gain and grace to receive along the way. Every day I wake up and commit to taking the long way and I think my soul will be all the better for it.


Team Hemphill said...

Shannon, this is my first time reading your blog (I came across it on your fb page) and wow, your depth and honesty really blew me away. You're so very soulful. I very much enjoyed reading it and look forward to browsing your previous entries.

Shannon said...

aw thanks maggie :)
i'm glad you checked out my blog! i never know who reads this but i am thankful for the people that do. do you have a blog?

p.s. that picture of you three is

Jamie said...


I liked this a lot. The long way is, indeed, the hard way. But the shortcuts always seem to get us lost and confused and we end up at the beginning again, anyway; wishing we had gone the long way in the first place.

Sitting with ourselves - so important, so hard, so rewarding. Love you.

Shannon said...

Jamie, it's so true, short-cuts are never the answer. I have to remind myself that if I think I see a short-cut, to just keep on walking. The long way isn't so bad when you know it will be so much greater in the end.
p.s. miss your face.

Anonymous said...

January 13,2014 Love your blog & this is my very first blog response but I had to chime in. I found Kidd's book at the library & decided to follow my intuition, began to read it. I decided to google the mentioned "Your soul etc." quote & found you. I am currently in a dark night of the soul & love the cocooning idea. Your blog is a gift, as another self image of taking the long way is beginning to emerge over my old "Queen of Shortcuts" identity. Thank you, Mary