“It’s hot this afternoon. Would you like a Popsicle?—I didn’t know if I could offer you one,” I said to the delivery man, after signing the form for my monthly supply of oxygen tanks and supplies for my nebulizer. Tall, muscular, his blue uniform T-shirt rumpled around the collar, his khaki shorts besmirched from the day’s deliveries, I could feel a wide grin behind his mask as he loaded up the empty tanks on his gurney.

“That’s mighty nice,” he said in spirited deep tones that resembled preachers pastoring their flock. “You’re right. It’s been one of those days. I’ll take these empties to the truck, then come back.”

In no time was he again standing on my front porch; his choice: blueberry, received with a hearty “God bless you!” his dark eyes dancing like fireflies.

Although our exchange was brief, I was touched by his cheerfulness, his listening to my limits without my mentioning them, his touching my loneliness with God’s sweetness, and his enlarging my crimped world with meaning. Both us us knew we were loved unconditionally, within the particulars of those few moments: lightness buoyed our hearts and drew our gaze toward the Immense. It only took a Popsicle.

Around 4 A.M., I awoke with this loud dream:

It was 1429, a sun-filled afternoon in the town square at Orleans, France, resounding with jubilant hoots of victory. The French army, under the command of Joan of Arc, had just defeated the British and restored the Dauphin to his rightful place on the throne. She looked stunning, armored, and astride her white horse, her victory more of God’s work than her own.

The deafening noise of the dream hurt so much that I scrambled awake to the quiet of my bedroom where I sat up and caught my bearings. In 1977, I had spent an afternoon in the Old City, at Orleans, France, marveled at the equestrian statue of the Maid of Orleans, but it had little resemblance to the dream’s image.

The Joan of Arc in my psyche heartens me—yet another spirit guide to lead me through the pitfalls of my terminal illness, at times like a pus-filled enemy beset with fears and setbacks. The British enemies Joan contended with pale in comparison.

Indeed, in my depths wage intermittent 24/7 wars. Vigilance to prevent these intrusions from scabbing old wounds augments my chronic exhaustion and weakness. Each day’s challenge is to remain steadfast in faith to Creator God who has companioned me for over eighty-five years. That’s a long time to be around, I often tell Him.

Back lit translucent white lit candle with melting wax

“Let’s have a look,” said the serviceman from Arenz Pest Management as he knelt down, flipped on his flashlight, and poked through the dark stubble massed in the corner of my back porch. I looked over his shoulder, eager to have expert eyes analyze this disorder that had reappeared since last week’s vacuuming.Text Box: “I don’t see this very often,” he said squinting, adjusting his uniform cap. “You’ve got lots of spiders in your attic—having a bash. What you see on the floor are the remains of dead insects they spit out. See that opening in the joint, above the windows? That’s where they’re having the bash. In time, the spiders will die off, and so will your problem. Keep vacuuming in the meantime.” 

As I reflected upon this experience, a metaphor surfaced. The spiders are likened to covert spin-doctors, propagandist experts, and masters of media distortion; they take a truth, chew through it, and spit out what is foreign to their ideologies. What remains is deadly and creates havoc within the populace, asleep with their eyes wide open. In no way can societies live in harmony. The sickness even permeates those in leadership roles.

On the other hand, “the clean of heart,” simple, humble folks, often poor, are like trained servicemen and women who adhere to the whole truth in their psyches, name the half-truths in our maniacal culture spinning around us, and find solidarity with the like-minded.

There is a way out, but it requires consciousness and work. In the meantime, as counseled by the Arenz tech, “Keep vacuuming!”

isolated red vacuum cleaner.3d render.See also:

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