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“Oh! No way are we gonna let you go,” said Cayce, the nurse practitioner, again come to evaluate my continued participation in hospice, a requirement by Medicare. “Even though there’s been no change in the measurement of your upper arm,” she added. She had already noted the new symptoms of my lung disease and taken my vital signs—all normal.

“Can we talk about my hands?” I asked as I showed them to her. “More crippling in my fingers since your last visit. Do you know if this symptom is worsening my Interstitial Lung Disease, since it’s associated with it?”

“That, I don’t know, Liz, but I’ll find out and get back to you.”

Cat Scans taken of my lungs during my last six hospital admissions indicated its slow progress, but since I’m receiving hospice, now in my tenth month, Medicare denies payment for such tests.

Cheerfulness softened her eyes as she admired the arrangement of white tulips on the dining room table. “So lovely!” she said, her words somewhat muffled by her protective mask. “I always love seeing them when I come here.” Three days old, each tulip had bowed its petalled cup in a concentric circle as if paying homage to Creator God. Their transient beauty reminded me of my own mortality, with its daily dying.

As Cayce zipped shut her case and prepared to leave, she said, “And great that you continue your exercises, especially the deep breathing ones. They’re keeping you going—No matter that you’re slowing down. This is working out.”

Her encouragement was balm to my soul and a reminder to let go of the outcome, another opportunity for accepting life on life’s terms as practiced in CPA. I’ve much to learn…

 

 

How often does the seductive voice within our psyches discount our value as compared with another, whether in a boardroom, in a classroom, during a tennis match, or wherever others gather? Its insinuation in our awareness, as if the observation was our own? It clearly does not want us to thrive in our flawed humanness, unique to each of us. Instead, we feel less than, unappreciated, and prone to self-pity, and if addicted to a substance, lose our souls.

Before I entered Twelve Step recovery, I was under siege to this seductive voice: the worm of envy grew fat feasting upon my innards. Only later did I learn about boundaries, when breeched, and the need to maintain them.

Help to do this came by saying, out loud, “Kill the comparer,” a tool that was shared by a wise woman, decades ago. It works if used with Steps I to III, followed by the Step IX amends to ourselves.

I liken this on-going purification to warfare—The use of a proper sword is critical in the cultivation of the clean heart that Jesus speaks of in the Beatitudes…for they shall see God. And we will, even now.

 

 

As I listened to the St. Louis Symphony on Classic Radio perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2 in C Minor, “Resurrection” (1894), I wondered at the brilliance and depth of the composer’s imagination, cut short by death at fifty years of age.

Of humble Jewish origins in Bohemia-Austria, Mahler always felt the outsider. Hard work was the antidote, first tested in Vienna’s Conservatory and University; then, conducting Italian opera at venues in Prague, Leipzig, Budapest, Hamburg, and New York’s Philharmonic, the proceeds of which supported his family. Studying German philosophers and metaphysicians also influenced his worldview and found a place in his musical compositions. Unlike others, Mahler had to finesse periods of solitude for composing, his lifelong passion.

Again, l listened to Mahler’s Second Symphony; its five movements opened me to worlds of angst/ecstasy, beyond my life experience. He seemed intimate with the notes of the human heart and reverenced them within the interplay of the massive orchestra, two soloists and chorus.

Nothing was left unexplored: existential questions, lost innocence, the dregs of despair, the disgust of existence, even the Titanic clash with God. Relief sounds in the Fourth Movement with the mezzo-soprano’s creedal statement, “I am from God. I want to return to God!” excerpted from the German poem, Primeval Light.

The Fifth Movement again opens with dark themes, from which the cry to God for mercy and forgiveness emerges. Glimmers of hope resound in the instruments. Bliss develops with the soloists and chorus singing Resurrection lyrics, composed by Friedrich Klopstock and Mahler; their simple words shimmer with the ineffable.

Indeed, Mahler’s imagination glimpsed the realm to which all are called; it impressed its ecstasy within each pore of our beings: “I shall die to find life.”

 

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