Playing Dead
Joyce Rupp

A large, green grasshopper, jumping like he’s in the circus, moves before me on the path. I step nearer and touch him with my long stem of grass. He’s suddenly silent. Not a breath of movement from him, like a little bump of green. “Clever,” I say to myself, “neat way of protection, this playing-dead thing.”

I smile and move on, nearly squishing a slow moving form of yellow and brown stripes, a miniature porcupine, elongated of course. I stoop to touch this rolly form, anxious to feel the little brushes of color around the body. As I do so, the caterpillar quickly forms itself into one soft, curvy ball. No amount of teasing with my finger will cause it to unfold. I move it gently in all directions, and still no sign of life. “Clever,” I say to myself, “neat way of protection, this playing-dead thing.”

Then, I wander to the inside of myself, to the journey of my heart. I look at places where fears and old wounds keep me from being alive and fully a part of life. I see how maybe it’s not so clever to keep on playing dead. Parts of me need to wake up, to be tickled in the ribs of my vunerability by life’s blade of grass. Parts of me need to jump high with delight, to leap along life’s path instead of hiding out in the concrete havens of my overly protected self.

Too much of me is still “playing dead.”

* * * * *

1. What old wounds, regrets, hurts, fears, have you allowed to fester and keep you from being fully alive? List them down. Being able to name them gives you power over them.
2. Look at this list in your hand. Why do they still hurt you? How does it still affect you until now? Reflect on their effects on your life at present.
3. Say this mantra: “Too much of me is still playing dead.”
4. Think of a first do-able, practical step to start being alive. Resolve to do it TODAY.

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