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“Liz, will you please take me to the Galleria? I want to pick out a Lladro figurine for my new great grand-baby,” said Mother, her white wavy hair feathering her youthful face as she hunched over the kitchen phone. Many times, we had made this trip to Bailey, Banks, and Biddle, and always the selection had taken a while.

I look back on these occasions, and so many more, when Mother had introduced me to beauty, given multiple expressions in the arts, here and abroad. Unfortunately, chronic knee pain washed much of it over me. Yet, a residual remained, enough to see the Sacred’s co-creating within the artists.

The impoverished Lladro brothers, Jose, Benjamin, and Juan, evidence this revelation. So right was their hunch about using their hands for something other than their parents’ farm in Almassera, Spain. Instead, they experimented with bowls of wet porcelain in their courtyard, then fired rudely-shaped molds into the kiln they had built. Excitement mounted as life-like figurines emerged. That was in 1953.

More training at the School of Arts and Crafts in San Carlos, Valencia, honed the basics of their craft and drew around them sculptors, ornamental artists, technicians, painters, and flower artists. Then, as well as today, many hands hand-crafted each piece, unique in design and color, with no urgency for mass production. Time was unimportant. 

While waiting for Mother’s selection, I used to invite each Lladro piece to speak its unique beauty. I was not disappointed.

From this vantage point, I honor Mother’s knack of opening my psyche to beauty wherein I still discover the Sacred.

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

Mesmerized, I watched moths dive like Kamikaze pilots into flaming candles; the others circled off into darkness. It was summer, hot and humid, on the screened-in porch of the Moloney farm. Lost on me were conversations of my parents and others—about the hired help producing sufficient food to sustain our families during World War II. Then, I knew nothing about life or death.

In my perception, this image corresponds to the sick phase of being a hospice patient as described in Kathleen Dowling Singh’s book The Grace in Dying.

Routines of self-care, writing, and prayer fill my daylight hours, but nights are different. Then, psychic intrusions interrupt REM sleep and I’m wide-awake. Like the moth, a nocturnal insect, I cast about searching for light, anything to relieve the darkness of my mortality. I hurl myself upon the Crucified, YouTube Gregorian chants and presentations on contemplative prayer, silence, and solitude. Usually sources of inspiration, they remain cloaked in darkness. Hours pass. Talk show hosts and classical music also fill the time. And trips to the fridge assuage my physical hungers. At best, some sleep does come.

Other nights I do sleep and receive dreams that orient me toward the Soft Glow within my psyche. Then, I feel the warmth, the encouragement to continue trodding through this darkness and enduring this madness, without recourse to drugs. It will pass, I tell myself. And it will, with surrender.

Dawn’s faint light quickens my hope: another new day for listening and learning and sharing.

 

 

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