You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Blogs’ category.

Christ was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names…

These verses are taken from the Christological hymn that Paul quotes in his letter to the Philippians (56 C.E.) and serve as the leitmotif for Holy Week. Each day’s events underscore the humility of Jesus, beginning with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem at Passover seated upon the back of a donkey.

Sensing his earthly mission coming to a close, and in the wake of that, conflict, he orchestrated this bit of drama. He knew his few followers would misinterpret his action in their craving for a political Messiah to rout the hated Romans. Psalm 118’s “Blessings on the King who comes…,” fueled their frenzy and drew the Pharisees’ censure watching this spectacle unfold through streets thronged with pilgrims. Jesus’s intent was to image the peaceful Messiah, only later grasped by his followers after his resurrection.

Years of meditation on this curious story, recorded in the four gospels, have deepened my sense of Jesus Christ, totally other than first perceived. Like his first followers, I still get trapped in expectations of what I want, when I want it, how I want it. My terminal illness, however, casts urgency upon learning to listen, anew, to his Father for direction, to practice humility and obedience, one day at a time.

The future holds my final days before transitioning from them. There’s no preparing for them. They will unfold, as they will.

 

 

Put together a man with a humble spirit, who for eight years scrapped brilliant compositions until birthing his distinct voice, tintinnabuli (Latin for “little bells”)—and you will thrill with the Estonian genius of Arov Part. I had such an experience.

His Miserere (1992) presents an awesome response to the Coronavirus pandemic, together with a long look at the specter of death in our stunned psyches. Two liturgical hymns comprise this choral work: the Miserere, the great penitential Psalm 51, and the Sequence Dies Irae, found in the Roman Catholic Mass of the Dead. Part’s intimacy with the living Word of God shimmers in each note of the score.

As the piece opens, five soloists implore repeatedly for mercy, accompanied by woodwinds and percussion. Pregnant pauses for reflection follow, slowly building toward thundering drumrolls: Catastrophe has struck—monumental shuddering follows in its wake. With its resolution, the choir ascends to radiant heights over the deep-throated resonance of the organ, tam-tam, and bell. Then it’s over. Earth knows peace.

We open our eyes and blink, then breathe. Mercy’s sweetness enfolds us within humble silence, until the next wave of grief… and the next theophany—the story of our lives.

 

 

“They want us to wear masks when we see patients—as a precaution,” she said, her brown eyes warming as she pulled open the screen door and stepped inside. It was Kassie, the nurse practitioner, come to evaluate my continued participation in hospice, per the Medicare guidelines. She had called earlier. “I’m glad to meet you, Liz. Alice tells me how well you’re doing—you lead the way.”

Still dizzy from the nebulizer treatment, I took slow deliberate steps supported by my cane toward the dining room table and sat down. Instead of a computer, Kassie withdrew a yellow pad from her case, began questioning my symptoms, then added them to the penciled notes she’d taken from my chart. “Now, let me listen to your lungs—Yes, lots of crackles as I suspected—still yellow when you cough it up?” I nodded, covering my mouth and leaned back in my chair.

“And no change in the measurement of your arm since last time,” she added collapsing the tape measure with slim fingers. “Still 19—from my findings, Liz, you’re still eligible for hospice.” I breathed easier, glad for Alice’s and Eunice’s guidance.

As Kassie prepared to leave, she appeared serene in her blue scrubs, unmoved by the pandemic’s challenges. “Yes, since my husband’s also an essential worker, we’re taking turns homeschooling our nine year old. Our five year old’s still in the hospital’s day care with most of his friends.” Her brown eyes smiled as she spoke, her thick brunette hair swept up into a bun enhancing her loveliness. “And last night, it was such fun making supper in the kitchen. That’s never happened before. I’m sure we’ll do it again.”

Her spirit’s flexibility touched mine.

 

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: