When I was younger, my mom used to read me this story about a caterpillar who started off small and worm-like, and who then proceeded to decimate this leaf in a scene of natural, allowable gluttony. He then took an postlunch nap, and awoke as a brilliant butterfly. The thing about caterpillars though, and the thing the book failed to mention, is that they're harbingers of pain and suffering. In Uganda, people are terrified of them. I would say that ants, snakes, and caterpillars are the three most feared organisms in the land. One type of caterpillar is large, about thumb-size, with brown and black hairs sticking out of it. Though i thankfully haven't experienced it yet (b/c I mercilessly kill every caterpillar I find), I heard those hairs burn like a thousand suns if they touch your skin. We might be sitting on the grass for a school assembly when all of a sudden, fifty girls get up screaming. A snake? no. A swarm of bees? Negative. Caterpillar on the move.
You ever watch a caterpillar move? it's kind of got this rolling, wavelike, undulation, where one end of it might be lifted in the air, and then it rolls forward, hitting again, the ground beneath (I think this is how it moves. As I said, i don't study them too long, im (and my biology professors and classmates might be ashamed of this ) more interested in eradication than observation at that point). Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel on a weekly basis. There are those days, weeks even, when I appreciate all that is about me. Im motivated to teach, start projects, and go to the roads and paths and speak the little local language i know. I'm patient with people, patient with myself, and generally happy and active. That's about the time the body pushes forward and that part of me that was so high, that enthusiasm and appreciation, is now scraping across the floor, burned by the friction that comes from a lack of understanding. I get angry at people, desiring only to be alone and in my house. I lack the motivation and even desire to be with the students. I almost search for reasons to be upset and exemplify the epitome of pride and blurred vision. In a word, I suck. Perhaps worst of all is this doubt that creeps in and this fear that Im going to come home and think. "I could have done better." I don't know what to do about this. Thankfully, God allows the caterpillar to move on, and in its turn, I find myself up again, breathing air that is fresh and filled with love. I appreciate the way my neighbor sometimes brings over sweet potatoes for me. I revel in the conversations I have with the farmhand, talking always about Manchester United football, and even appreciate the way the butt-naked kids (isn't that kid like twelve years old?!) playing in the swamp greet me in the local tongue.
I guess my only hope is that the caterpillar is constantly moving forward, towards a peaceful, loving, more accepting life, and that if seen by an on-looker, that person will be more merciful than I, and certainly more merciful than the girls I teach.
1 day ago