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Some have noticed a lull in my blogging. It’s puzzled me, too. No longer do words come facilely as I sit at my word processor, distracted by the flowering of the summer snowflake viburnum outside my study window.

Rather than there being nothing to write about, my apparent shut down is related to my terminal illness: interstitial lung disease with rheumatoid arthritis that crimps my energies, my mental faculties, and my overall functioning. Practicing daily acceptance in CPA’s Step One, these past two years, has softened the distress of my shortness of breath, extreme weakness, need for continuous rest, with increasing difficulty to speak.

Other than sloughing off my aging body for another realm, there is no remedy—save for the time-released morphine pill and two Nebulizer treatments, taken daily. It is this process I’m to focus upon—such was my Inner Writer’s intent in stifling words from my depths.

The end of my life approaches; its symptoms have their own story to tell, and I hope to honor them.

Outside my study window, a robin alighted upon the still wintry appearance of a branch, caught by April’s tag with the sun, then was gone. Unlike signs of other leafing shrubs, this one feels shivery with indecision, its scraggy impression resembling a cluttered attic. Yet, upon closer inspection, a few small slender buds point toward the sky; the color, still to come.

The experience reminds me of Isaiah’s prophecy:

Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?

Intended for exiled Israelites under the Babylonians, soon to be freed in 539 BCE, the text still carries fresh power. The new thing fires the imagination and excites creativity, looks beyond the humdrum, and inhales vistas yet to be explored. But the even greater challenge is to recognize the new thing when it comes.

Memories of missed invitations rankle, with their failure of nerve, too absorbed in my psyche to take the necessary actions. In preferring my will, I scraped depression’s depths rather than internalize the gift proffered. And only within the gentle discipline of AA, years later, did I begin to watch for the telltale signs of new growth.

About that same time, the season of spring began to remind me of Creator God and His color-making power in ever-expanding universes—even now, in this eighty-six-year-old cypher.

Soon, the robin’s perch in the summer snowflake viburnum will assume the shape of a lacy gown—the seventh year of its flowering outside my study window. I give thanks, with gusto.

I still remember being transfixed by rows of chrysalis, some dormant, some thrashing about, within the glass case of the conservatory at The Sophie M. Sachs Butterfly House in St. Louis County, Missouri. Only vaguely did I recall the egg and the caterpillar phases involved in the formation of the chrysalis. But only now have I learned what transpires within the chrysalis before its metamorphosis.

A violent scenario unfolds. For the first three or four days, rich fluids fill the the chrysalis causing it to destroy most of the caterpillar cells; its organs take new forms for the butterfly’s use. Some leftover parts, like the caterpillar jaws, form the butterfly’s sucking mouthparts; its legs, the butterfly’s. Partially formed wings continue developing beneath the chrysalis’s skin. Toward the end of two weeks, its transparency reveals the butterfly’s color and patterns. When ready, the butterfly breaks through the protective chrysalis, pumps blood into its newly formed wings, then flies away.

As I compose this blog, I breathe deeply into my own chrysalis, the symbolic container for my terminal illness, lLD with rheumatoid arthritis. For over two years, hospice has supported its sick phase, and the learning has been profound. Similar to the unhappy caterpillar in the chrysalis, my dismemberment continues: old ideas, ill suited for my individuation, are ripped from the bedrock of my psych. Dreams continue tweaking my distorted perceptions. New physical symptoms surface with corresponding natural remedies that offer relief. Yet, the downward slope continues and I have no control over the disease process.

Withal, deeper honesty and willingness facilitate my participation. With the continuing support of my CPA buddies I’m moving through this final transformation, one day at a time—Just something I have to go through. It’s working…

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