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“Get ready! Get set! Go!” yelled our high school coach, its fierceness goaded my heavy legs to run the perimeter of the hockey field with my gym class. Instead, a swish of dark tunics whizzed by me like wild ducks fleeing from hunters-on-the-kill. Alone, my lungs heaving, I gazed at the stillness of the surrounding fields, their wild grasses shriveled by the summer’s sun, with crows cawing and clowning around. But I was ready, I said to myself as I collapsed on the dusty ground and prepared to receive the coach’s caustic comments. I always got them.

It was always about readiness, a discipline of mind-body in the present moment. But I preferred fantasy to the rough edges of the real world: rather than play field hockey, I fancied the sun-sky above me, its thready clouds tossed by humorous winds.

Only much later, in the work world, did readiness’s importance flare into practice. I had no choice, but I still pocketed fantasy in other areas of my life—when no one was around. 

And then I learned of the bible’s use of the word ready—Over five hundred times, in both testaments. That fact cast a different light upon those ancient people and their responses to the revelations of the living God. Fully conscious, they were persons of action. For many, their physical survival depended upon it.

And centuries later, Jesus came out of this tradition of readiness. He taught in the gospel of Luke, “You too must stand ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour when you do not expect.” Never has my readiness been more critical than in my present circumstances. This attitude also finds expression in Step Six’s AA: “Became entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”

I’m deeply gratefully to have learned about being ready this late in life. I still have significant helpers.

Jesus of Nazareth

Capturing moments of stillness has many faces; in their train, surprises abound and uplift lagging spirits, in this mid-winter afternoon.

Stillness colors washed out grays and browns in January’s shivers; hues of strangeness abound. Hide-strength mud patches glisten in the sun, like used saddles hitched to hooks in stables. Cypress limbs finger shadows upon hand-sized leaves from the nearby London plane tree: everything feels freeze-dried in such moments. Only the sense of smell suggests life decomposing into something other.

Within the stillness of this January freeze, another moment has launched an unfathomable experience, long in the waiting: this very afternoon, an eight-pound baby girl, with brunette hair, was born at home, January 21, 2022. Her first warm breaths initiated parental bonding, filled with fresh colors for mutual growth. Her name is Mary Elizabeth.

Such stillness tickle bells of silent joy. There are no words …

At 6:40 A.M., I awoke with this hilarious dream:

I’m visiting a new friend in Rome, Italy, the October morning shadowing our steps toward the square thronged with shoppers. We buy food, then climb aboard her double-seated Vesta and set off for the day—a new experience for me.

In no time, we’re roaring down country roads, my friend’s thick blond hair snaking around her red helmet, the same color as her Vesta. Her heavyset body sways with the turns of the dirt roads, and I with her, holding her girth between my arms. Merriment exudes from her spirit like splashing spring waters. My mouth aches from laughter.

Beneath ancient water chestnut trees near an abandoned farm, we stop. The hilarity continues as she tears apart baguettes, then offers me Brie cheese, with red grapes and wine. Even the ravens, strut in tall grasses nearby.

The dream’s setting, Rome, Italy, suggested the center of Christianity into which I was initially enculturated until directed to search deeper for the Cosmic Christ in all of creation. Dire compliance of the rules and regulations no longer drew fire.

October morning spoke of bright aging filled with even deeper opportunities for learning prior to my transition.

The new friend revealed Precious God, disguised as a swarthy French laborer, intent upon opening me to the laughter of living: She smelled of earth. She swept the floors of my closed mind and threw open its grimy windows to another world, the one that awaits me. No longer was it appropriate to grieve my diminishment—just watch it happen and let it go. To strengthen my resolve, she also offered me communion. And she’s still in the driver’s seat.

Composing this blog still evokes laughter …

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