Reflections on my Chrysalis: Epilogue

Throughout the last 10 days, as I’ve reflected on my chrysalis a few people have wondered why I did this, why I wrote this. As is typical of me I didn’t set out to write a multi-part reflection of such length and detail – that evolved as I started. I think the genesis for this reflection was the culmination of several things.

For a number of weeks lately I have been thinking of chrysalis. It’s come up in my comments on blogs, as a read about various blog friends who are going through what looks like their chrysalis. And it came up in a sermon I preached just before I started my “stay-cation.” So, the first reason is that chrysalis has been on my mind.

I suppose another reason is that I have been home these last two weeks and have had the luxury of time to rest, reflect, and write. Since I have taken this new call I don’t have as much time for this as I did at small church. So, it’s been good to slow down and be reflective.

A third reason is that I began this time off reading (finally) Barbara Brown Taylor’s, “Leaving Church.” Actually I read most of the book, there were some parts I just had to skip. As usual I really loved BBT’s writing. She has such an amazing gift for words. But I was really saddened by her experience of church, of the priesthood, as a ministry that demands the priest to pour out his or her self completely for the care of others. I think this book is a reflection on BBT’s chrysalis, but it includes some tragic lack of self-care. It got me thinking, what were seminaries teaching their students in the early 1980’s and how had that changed by the mid 1990’s? I remembered seminary placing a lot of emphasis on clergy well-being and self-care. I also remembered that self-care was a huge emphasis in my training for massage therapy. At that time I was profoundly affected by a book, “How Can I Help” by Ram Dass. Looking at the lives and reflections of people in helping positions Ram Dass articulates the importance of helping without a need to satisfy the ego – you know, oh, if I do this I will be so wonderful and I will be “liked.” People found out that through helping others so much more really happened – life changing, self awareness, changes. Anyway, I think the idea of appropriate self-care, and how that was a component of my “training” was another motivator for this reflection.

The last reason was the result of reading the RevGals August bookclub book: “Friendship of Women” by Joan Chittister. As I’ve read this book I have found myself thinking about the various women who have been friends and mentors for me, the “Lydias,” “Prescas,” “Martha’s” etc in my life. So, while it was a subtle component, this reflection was also a tribute to those women.

To JS the first woman priest I experienced and now blog with; to JH my therapist who helped us through the recovery;

to KW my seminary friend who helped us through the recovery time and attended the discernment weekend and has been a fabulous friend for over 10 years;

to LP the rector/priest at my internship church who was so formative in my priesthood and has become a friend;

to MM my spiritual director;

to Joan Chittister who wrote, “Scarred by struggle, transformed by hope – the nine gifts of suffering;” and to all the RevGals who helped me through the darkest of days.

There are, of course many other women and men who were instrumental in my formation, and I am grateful for them, too.

As I suggested yesterday, chrysalis may be at the heart of life. Even though its true, no one wants to think, that it is the challenges and dark nights that cause us to grow and change. I think that it is the “moving through” those challenges, and doing so sustained by faith, that causes the deep transformation. There is so much potential for us to come out of it all feeling bitter and as if “life owes us.” But moving through chrysalis with the idea that God is walking with us, even and especially, when we cannot see God any where, is an act of faith. And, coming out the other side, back to a place of wholeness and light again, I can see that God was with me in that darkness. I don’t believe that God has a “plan” nor do I believe that we are puppets just playing out God’s plan. I believe that God has a desire for us and nudges us but goes with us where we go. Freewill is after all the second gift from God, life being the first. So, God goes with us. And in this reflection I give thanks to God.


About Terri C Pilarski

I am an Episcopal priest serving a delightfully progressive, interesting, creative congregation. I have been married more than half my life to the same man. We have two grown children, plus two dogs and two cats, although the number of four legged household members changes from time to time. I love to garden, knit, read, and play on Facebook or with my blog. I have been a practitioner of daily meditation since I was nineteen. I practice yoga five days a week and walk every where I am able too.
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12 Responses to Reflections on my Chrysalis: Epilogue

  1. Grace thing says:

    Such a beautiful reflection, Mompriest. This series will be a gift to so many readers. I think you’re right about chrysalis being at the heart of life…transformation is the Christian journey. Your words give me such hope and strength as I grow and change in my own little chrysalis. Peace to you today.

  2. Mary Beth says:

    It’s beautiful. I’m grateful to know you and to have heard your story in this way.

  3. i couldn’t agree more… i have some catching up to do in the reading here… however, my experience is yes the darkness, the challenges shape us and God goes where we go. i wrote my own story today but i’m not sure i’ve got the courage to post it quite yet… maybe. we’ll see… i’ll let it percolate awhile.

  4. RevDrKate says:

    A thousand thank yous for sharing all of this. And sharing you with us in this blog, in darkness and in light….

  5. Sherry says:

    When I was involved with the Dominicans discerning my calling, I spent of course much time with them. I never saw women so overworked in my life. It was endless meetings and such, to the point that some broke in tears at their nomination to yet another board or group. It is in some sense why I realized that I was not called to the convent life. Self-care is so important, caregivers often die relatively soon after the death of the person they cared for, so stressed do they become.

  6. Songbird says:

    What a great “long view,” mompriest. I also found BBT’s book profoundly sad.

  7. I have enjoyed this series enormously. And I really agree with your thoughts on transformation.

  8. Katherine E. says:

    I give thanks to God for your story, too, mompriest. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Powerful. Moving. Graceful and gracefilled.

  10. PK says:

    Thank you for sharing these stories of who and whose you are with me. I hear… and deeply believe what you said about we walk… sustained by faith (gift from God… and that God is always with us. The way you wrote it… sounds as if you are at peace in your faith and God’s abiding presence. While I believe in my head and in my heart what you said… and I’ve preached/taught/said the same thing many times… I wish I could find the peace in my soul that you seem to have. I don’t know how to get from head/heart… to breathing it. You’ve given me hope that it’s possible.

  11. Barbara B. says:

    I’ve LOVED reading this series. Big thanks for sharing!!!

  12. Jan says:

    Thank you for sharing. You certainly show the Divine amidst the various parts of your life and ministry. You show hope in taking one step at a time.

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