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Listening relaxes strangleholds that impound change within padlocked barriers.

Listening steels resolve to accept the unacceptable, with its terror of the unknown.

Listening encourages taking the next step wherever it leads, up or down, anywhere.

Listening eases raspy breaths until the next treatment, with the expulsion of fluids.


Listening stills the gibberish wheel whirling nonessentials into crazed perceptions.

Listening staunches imperatives that impound choices within sticky globs of paste.

Listening softens the jagged edges of anger intent upon maiming, grousing, lying.

Listening defuses pompous pretending like pricking helium balloons tied to gates.


Listening twizzles cacophony into harmonious rhythms that brilliance moods.

Listening unearths flickering images signaling critical change in the night sky.

Listening greens hope that hides out in recesses of stuffed closets and drawers.

Listening waters parched arroyos with decades of insect and animal detritus.


Listening enhances words that vibrate like dulcimers along mountain streams.

Listening teases shimmering pastels that titter in sunshine-drenched mornings.

Listening patches potholes of isolation and ignorance with significant connections.

Listening burgeons whispered prayer like striped camellia blossoms in full flower.



Such listening fosters obedience of the heart, authentic living, and growth in His likeness.

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.



It was Saturday morning, the sun playing off rumpled scarecrows displayed upon a shelf near the entrance of the supermarket. Slouch hats bedecked with sunflowers covered shocks of orange yarn spilling upon shoulders, peeking from shirts and pants legs—nothing uptight about these field-warriors. Their stitched grins and rolling black eyes seized my imagination.

“Would you look at that! I must have one!” I said while loosening the scarf around my neck and stomping slush from my boots. Gone were the leach-like doldrums that had enveloped my spirit from the night before. In the face of such absurdity, there was no room for such nastiness.

That was decades ago. Since then, I’ve showcased my scarecrow in rooms around my house as a reminder of the disarming power of humor, especially when blatant evil seems to have the upper hand.

But there’s more to this image than the restoration of psychic balance. I’ve grown to equate it with God-Power within my depths. When flooded by the untoward, replete with confusion, pain, and speechlessness, I know to shut down, do nothing, and in the company of my scarecrow welcome the ludicrous. Eventually change occurs with the reemergence of the “wee small voice,” and with it, new lessens learned—stark reminders of my humanness with its graced foibles.



Yet still another upheaval awaits me around the next corner. Such growth is messy, but with my scarecrow, it works!

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