This morning’s emptiness rankled—Nothing to blog about and time was passing.

So I looked up emptiness in J. Rodale’s The Synonym Finder and discovered entries related to things, time, scarcity, mood, and speech. Mine was lodged between hollowness and exhaustion: the indefinable perimeter of my imagination and its splayed energy. I was certain that behind this emptiness teemed vibrant images yet to be developed. I just needed to dig deeper in memory.

During much of my life, emptiness experiences triggered hidden landmines, their shocks plunging me deeper into introversion. Around me, the world was not to be trusted. Yet, tripwires still snagged my shoes. In the wake of such attacks, I soothed my distress with shopping. With the change of seasons, I donated armfuls of clothing to Good Will. Yet, emptiness still stung.

My 1991 joining of AA modified some of this disorder. The Fourth Step with its rigorous and moral inventory launched my first honest self-evaluation; its completion revealed a larger sense of who I really was. Seasonal deliveries to Good Will dwindled, then stopped. Rather than my attire speaking to the world around me, I learned to cultivate a personal voice. Yet, occasional emptiness still happens, as this morning.

Yet, my present sense of emptiness has paradoxical value in Jesus’s First Beatitude, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God: It breathes the spirit of Twelve-Step Recovery. The less of my ego, the more for Spirit to flourish.

So, within my impoverishment/emptiness brim the untold riches of Kingdom living. At the top of the steps each morning, light colors the world with fresh grace. Everything looks different, even my transition.

I was getting close—just around the corner. Three days had passed since last seeing them, alive with butterflies and inching toward the garage roof of a neighbor. Joy infused my steps with giggles as humid breezes fanned my cheeks.

Up ahead, brilliant yellows seemed to stretch into the morning sun, guffawing. Then, they appeared: rows of sunflowers, bleached strips securing their heads to stakes. Awed, I stood among them, looking up. Bees alighted upon their daisy-like heads and did their bees-thing while a solitary blackbird cawed. Quintessentially summer’s gift, I lodged this multi-faceted image in my heart for a later time.

That time is now. Like those sunflowers, their heads trained upon the sun’s beneficence, from sunup to sundown, I depend upon Creator Sun, to keep me vibrantly alive as I move through the continuing diminishment of my lungs, increased weakness, and occasional brain fog. Eventually, these symptoms will contribute to the death of my body and the consequent release of spirit.

In a related sense, after sunflowers wither and die their seeds are harvested, supplementing diets with protein, Vitamin E, and heart-friendly good fats.

So the imprint of death coexists within the living, until exhausted and disintegrated—No warding it off with miracle fixes or geographical cures. It’s always been that way, evidence of an inscrutable wisdom is at work in our lives.

It behooves us to pay close attention and learn.


At 2:00 A.M., I awoke with a strong impression of Vietnam, with no accompanying dream story.

Instead, a flood of images converged in its wake: anti-war demonstrations, President Johnson and his advisors in the Oval office, TV coverage of guerilla warfare with casualties, the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. withdrawal from the conflict, the horrific stories that followed, the 1975 unification of Vietnam, bloodied by thirty years of killing.

So the question remains, what does Vietnam say to me now?

A brief YouTube of this country reveals an impoverishment of spirit with unconscious war scars, an aping of Western ways, and an enslavement to Communism. Lost in the dust of centuries is its identity as a people with its dynasties, its Buddhism temples, and its skirmishes with China.

Certainly, I own my self-imposed impoverishment: violence, confusion, need to please others, and skewed perceptions that I still deal with in Chronic Pain Anonymous. But I shudder to think of the bleeding remnants, still hidden within the recesses of my unconscious.

With God’s help, I’ve come this far. The challenge is to continue mining my dreams for more hints of such disorders and Twelve-Step them away, one day at a time. So I pray for healing…



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