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The timbered great door stands ajar. Silence infiltrates the light brilliancing the hardwood floor with its intrusion into darkness: So unexpected, so frightening, an irritant to eyes accustomed to living within the grip of shadows.

No one seems around.

The urge to explore this new realm discomforts. A response is called for, despite peppering fears similar to nail guns securing tiles to tar-papered roofs—It’s safer to remain with the familiar, however outworn. That’s what everyone says. Yet, the light persists, the light beckons, the light warms.

How many times have I stood upon such a threshold? Let go of opportunities for growth? Settled for less rather than embracing the necessary sacrifice to forge ahead? For too many years have I chosen the half-light, but no more. My senior years are thinning, and my friends are diminishing through death and disease. Even my energies are like spend-saver salt.

The paradox of this diminishment opens me even more to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the open door to Light’s abundance. “Anyone who enters through me will be safe.” (John 10:9) This, alone, satisfies, even now.

 

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Helplessness, searing bone pain, and fog-brain reduced me to total dependence upon others following last summer’s fall. It also shut down my egoic mind: I was no longer in control—of anything. Suddenly many helpers filled my waking hours; their cues prompted my snail-like return to life.

Dreams of healthy functioning gave way to long hours of exercise atop my bed. Indeed, they became a prayer, of sorts, while therapists eyed my weekly progress and urged more challenging stretches. My leg muscles, atrophied from the hip surgery, began to wake up. My elbow and shoulder stiffness lessened. I could dress myself again. Even neighbors applauded my progress during supervised walks with my cane around the court.

However, all this changed the morning of July twenty-ninth when I awoke to a one- inch-discrepancy in the length of my legs that skewed my balance. There followed a modified exercise program, chiropractic adjustments, and healing massages. After weeks of no change, I consulted my surgeon. An x-ray revealed the displacement of the three pins in my hip, and more surgery was indicated.

During the lengthy work-up of tests and x-rays, I again shut down. Within the ensuing silence I discovered I was still controlling my return to health. Somehow, my Healing Presence was taking orders from me. And when the November first surgery was rescheduled to the seventeenth, I finally surrendered.

The irony of this experience was not lost on me: Unfolding within the wake of last summer’s fall have been untold spiritual riches I probably would have not experienced had I been well enough to attend my annual retreat on the New England coast. Perhaps next September …

 

 

It is New Year’s Eve.

Womb-like stillness exudes peace as I head outdoors. My flashlight plays in front of my steps, revealing shriveled leaves and twigs and gumballs on the sidewalk. Halogen streetlights impress limpid pools of yellow upon this dark world. Christmas lights hug tree trunks and drape specter branches. Wreathes with blinking lights adorn front doors. A spotlight casts a larger-than-life outline of a crèche onto a plank fence that heralds this centuries-old event. I smile. From somewhere, fumes from a log fire permeate the air.

As moist breezes freshen my cheeks, I move up the hill toward another oasis of yellow; within it, a jumble of cars crowds several driveways, and further on, a battered pick-up. From a bay window shimmers a tinseled tree. And in the next a block a drooping Scotch pine sits tilted upon a front lawn, awaiting removal by the yard waste collection.

I pause. What is it about darkness that prompts us to fill it with light? Does darkness not have its own richness, its own texture, its lessons—both material and spiritual?

Against such a field of darkness the crescent moon waxes tonight, and I’m moved by the text from Isaiah, 45: 7: “I form the light and create the darkness…” Both have value if we seek it.

 

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