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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:

“You’re good to go,” said Tyrol seated behind the Plexiglas screen, his expansive chocolate eyes studying me over his mask. “And you’ll need this to get in,” he added handing me the card for the scanner on the nearby counter. I breathed easier, the afternoon sunshine bathing the foyer in light behind me. My admission to the YMCA was free with my Silver Sneakers eligibility. 

“Thanks for your help. You’ll never know,” I said smiling and inserting the card into my wallet.

True, I still have a terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis; its progression, unpredictable. Since November 2019, the hospice nurses have counseled, “Just wait and take care of yourself. We’ll be back next week.” And they continue to come, noting signs of my decline in their computers: Evidence of my eighty-five + years unraveling my youthfulness. Then, I got tired of waiting for I knew not what.

In January 2021, I begin short walks in the neighborhood, with my helper’s support and my cane. How I relished the warmth of the sun, telltale signs of greening, and neighbors walking their dogs, having been housebound for so long.

With last week’s return of humidity, though, my spirit sank. In no way could I breathe. I needed an air-conditioned venue to continue my daily walks.

How I was led to the Silver Sneakers and the nearby YMCA is another story. Once inside, though, my crimped airways opened and relaxed. Lightness filled my lungs. My gait felt more steadfast, with less dependence upon my cane and none upon my helper, who followed me around the facility largely empty, save for a handful of seniors.

This will work, if I let it, one day at a time.

O Key of David and Scepter of the House of Israel;

you open and no one can shut;

you shut and no one can open:

Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,

those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

On December 19, 2020, the fourth O Antiphon addresses the longed-for Messiah as the Key of David and Scepter, drawn from Isaiah 9:6 and 22:22.

Again, we begin with metaphors of royal power. Whoever possesses keys has the means to imprison others, either literally or psychologically or spiritually: a bonding to another occurs. Whoever holds the scepter, an ancient symbol of imperial sovereignty, holds absolute sway over nations; they are controlled, sometimes locked down within rules and regulations, benevolent or sadistic.

The Israelites’ checkered experience with their kings and those of neighboring countries led them to long for a Messiah, with power to effect vital and lasting change. Intermittent warfare only weakened them. Centuries of exile under the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians further undermined their sense of being Yahweh’s chosen people. Living in darkness and the shadow of death grieved them. A few did remember better times and yearned for a different way of life.

Like all the other O Antiphons, the imperative Come seeks the Messiah’s intervention in His people’s suffering, largely caused by ignorance and self-will. Only He can bring about lasting change.

And are we that different from the ancient Israelites? Living in self-imposed prisons of fear and doubt? Our sloth compounding our darkness? Speaking for myself, I think not, especially since I’m living within the shadow of death.

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