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“Let’s have a look,” said the serviceman from Arenz Pest Management as he knelt down, flipped on his flashlight, and poked through the dark stubble massed in the corner of my back porch. I looked over his shoulder, eager to have expert eyes analyze this disorder that had reappeared since last week’s vacuuming.Text Box: “I don’t see this very often,” he said squinting, adjusting his uniform cap. “You’ve got lots of spiders in your attic—having a bash. What you see on the floor are the remains of dead insects they spit out. See that opening in the joint, above the windows? That’s where they’re having the bash. In time, the spiders will die off, and so will your problem. Keep vacuuming in the meantime.” 

As I reflected upon this experience, a metaphor surfaced. The spiders are likened to covert spin-doctors, propagandist experts, and masters of media distortion; they take a truth, chew through it, and spit out what is foreign to their ideologies. What remains is deadly and creates havoc within the populace, asleep with their eyes wide open. In no way can societies live in harmony. The sickness even permeates those in leadership roles.

On the other hand, “the clean of heart,” simple, humble folks, often poor, are like trained servicemen and women who adhere to the whole truth in their psyches, name the half-truths in our maniacal culture spinning around us, and find solidarity with the like-minded.

There is a way out, but it requires consciousness and work. In the meantime, as counseled by the Arenz tech, “Keep vacuuming!”

isolated red vacuum cleaner.3d render.See also:

How do I give expression to my shrinking world? Wrap words around this indisputable phenomenon to which I awake each morning, unless graced by a dream that enlarges the sense of who I am? Clearly, I have no control over this process, other than to show up and participate.

My limits are real: shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue. No pain. More body awareness is critical lest I fall, and my hardwood floors are very hard—That, I’ve already experienced, years ago.

Yet each day’s tasks, whether self-care, meal preparation, stretching and breathing exercises, blogging, study, phone visits and those from the hospice team suffuse more-than-full-moments with joy. At day’s end, it’s a relief to climb under my comforter and give thanks to Creator God for what I’ve learned and ask for dreams upon awakening.

Besides the guidance of dreams, I also depend upon excerpts from The Grace in DyingHow We Are Transformed Spiritually as We Die (1988) written by Catherine Dowling Singh, PhD in Transpersonal Psychology. Twenty years of participating in what she calls the Nearing Death Experience of hospice patients illumine her findings of breathtaking spiritual growth. True, their bodies fail them, but only to release their spirits to remerge with the Ground of Being. Such reflection heartens me, and what I’m dealing with will eventually pass.

More and more, I resonate with the author’s conviction that dying is safe. My hospice team will share their expertise when the time comes, but I’m not there yet. There’s still much to learn and I’m so willing …



Hands have a way of shaping the history of where we’ve been: from the dimpled hands of a toddler mouthing everything in her reach, to the sinewy hands of a laborer plying his trade, to the willowy hands of a dancer enhancing her art, to the knowing hands of a father responding to his wiggly children.

And then there are other hands among us, set aside for matters of the spirit: those of the Jesuit priest James Keegan come to mind. He suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease in a retirement home in Weston, Massachusetts. Decades of holding the Body and Blood of Christ during Mass, of holding the tormented sharing of others, of teaching others how to listen to the troubled, of holding on to his God in the face of debilitating illness that will culminate in death—all have marked his “scarred hands” with wisdom.

And even more significantly is the slim volume of his poems, These Hands (2017), drawn from the crucible of of his life. Nothing escapes his attention. The hands of his chaste spirit forage for precise words until the sought-for image bursts into consciousness and pleasures his readers. Such is God’s work firing his imagination and ours.

His concluding poem, And Give Our Best to Uncle, contains such a moment: “Before my teeth fall out/ and more joints start to click/ like a metronome collecting silence,/ I want to say, ‘I love you,’ once/ and have it understood/ the way the mirror/ understands my face.”


These Hands by James M. Keegan is available on Amazon. Even the book’s cover suggests a resurrection sunrise.



Available on Amazon

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