Did you know that a dragonfly lives out most of its life as a larvae? For something like seven years it swims around beneath the water consuming microbial matter.
Then, it’s drawn from the water by some inner vibrational mystery up into air and sunshine. Taking a position on a tall reed the sun dries up its fishy skin. The old identity peels off, wings emerge, and the bottom feeder becomes a highly efficient airborn hunter.
Ridding the riverbanks of the mosquito, it’s an avenging angel devouring God’s mistakes and earning our praise. The beloved dragonfly can’t get enough air time as if landing is sacrilege. It even mates on wing. Twinned fluorescent bodies reflect sunshine through transparent wings.
This glorious existence lasts for just a season. After spending most of its life spent wiggling underwater. It soars into a new reality, wind beneath its wings, and perishes with a smile on its face.
What a summer I’ve had. A dragonfly summer.
My last alleycat post – last April - I was leaving Bobcaygeon for an uncertain future. I only knew that those familiar waters were no longer where I belonged. I’d spent a year in discombobulation. Losing my marriage, losing my family home, losing my cool, losing my mind, losing the trust of the church elders (most) and earning the worry of many, I was being drawn out of the element I knew into some unfamiliar atmosphere.
The most common conversation I had last Spring was “what will you do next?”. I had no answers and only a few ideas. “The Lord will provide” was my only answer. I preached about Trust and Transformation. I was pretty sure congregational ministry was behind me. I was ready to spread my wings and see what new adventures the wind would drop me into.
I moved from my winter’s accomodations to the acre in the woods on the Burnout River. I’d just nicely got my big canvas tent set up under a hay tarp and was looking forward to being a gypsy when three unseen buds sprung up like wildflowers in my path.
A woman who’d been a good friend and colleague became much more. We became comfort and joy for one another. We entered one another’s shattered hearts and began making a new bigger heart from the pieces.
An opportunity to purchase the 17 acres upriver that ended in a cliff and the third of three brother’s falls popped up next. This golden chance was beyond reach. Even with brother Ted taking half, I had no job and no security for a loan.
The property was the carrot at the end of the stick. The stick was another church. A colleague called me up to say she was moving on and I should apply to supply.
When I told friends and family I’d taken on another church I got lots of surprised comments. No one was more surprised than me. But there it was. A big fat blood-filled mosquito right in my path. What was I to do? I swallowed it whole.
I had two months to digest it. June and July went by on the riverbank. The falls kept pouring forth their endless reminder of the roll of time. Their thunder reverberated with the power of loss – the inevitable fall of all that time sweeps on. And Hope rose with the mists from the thunder and loss. With each first light we drank coffee, read psalms, and sent our hopes out into those mists to rise with the heron’s wide wings to treetops and beyond.
The alleycat of yesterday had drowned tumbling down those falls. The ways I’d related to folks, the scaredy-cat, the rubbing up against legs needing petting and approval, the hungry search for morsels of meaning – all gone.
My psyche took wing. There was a transparent lightness in every day. I fed on the sins of my youth. All the ways I’d betrayed my true wild self -making compromises - mistaking them as sacrifices for a god that could never be appeased.
That false god of endless demands was cut down with the trees and brush we cleared for our campsite by the falls. We ran it through the chipper and used the chips for a footpath into the woods beneath the cliff.
From high on that cliff we watched the sun set and noticed every shade of green and every hue of cloud that the artist Maker could please us with. We breathed in the gift of each inspiration and picked blackberries as numerous as the days we’d wasted away in prisons of codependency.
In the magic of moonlight on water we could see what sister moon sees. How broad and wide and free our lives are to be lived. How much bigger our souls are than the small confines of fear we choose to spend them in.
And now the season is over. It’s back to concrete and asphalt. The great stones of George Street United Church call out for Jesus walking somewhere in the streets of Peterborough. The alleycat is once again on prowl - hungry for morsels.
I’ve lost track of how many lives this alleycat’s used up. He’s still got all the same fleas in his hide. His old habits he wears like fur. But he’s had a dragonfly summer and the shapeshifting has given him eyes to see from on wing. There’s a White Bear and cub at his back to make sure he never returns to the cage but roams always with the One who set him free.