You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘eternal life’ tag.

At 6:10 A.M., I awoke with this affirming dream:

Advent will soon arrive and our group plans our annual project. Instead of buying holiday gifts for loved ones, we will bake pastries in each other’s kitchens, Mondays after work—Of little concern that no one knows how to bake.

After our first Monday gathering, we step back from the mess: sinks filled with soiled pots and utensils, counters crammed with half-opened ingredients and stained cookbooks, floors pastiched with icing and brown sugar. What looks like a plate of chocolate chip cookies sits near the oven. My crocs make stickery sounds as I join the others with a bucket of water and mop; disheartened, we clean into the night.

On subsequent Mondays, some progress brightens our moods: Pastries are beginning to resemble the pictures in the cookbooks.

Our final Monday yields holiday boxes of pastries, unique in taste, design, and decorations. We’re glad to share.

I liken this dream to my daily practice of recovery found in Recipe for Recovery: A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous (cookbooks). Its format resembles a cookbook, with Ingredients, Description, Directions, Preparation, and What It Looks Like. Working this program requires willingness to reeducate our psyches from less-than responses learned earlier in life. Such conscious work also benefits others.

The dream opens with the season of Advent, a four-week arduous preparation for the Christmas mysteries. Similarly in CPA, the penitential climate of Advent informs the practice of the Twelve Steps, a lifelong practice.

Our group symbolizes the spiritual fellowship that consciously takes on this challenging project, with Higher Power’s help. Kitchens represent CPA’s website and the varied sites—phone or Zoom—where meetings are held. Our first Monday gathering reveals deep willingness in the group’s initial efforts to mix/blend/simmer ingredients which flop. Even more is this willingness demonstrated in cleaning up the kitchen. No matter that my crocs will be soiled; they can be hosed down, and I’ll return the following Monday with the others.

The mess stands for Step One, the powerlessness and unmanageability of our lives. Some progress speaks to the beginnings of changed behaviors and attitudes that keep us humble and teachable.

Thus, Holiday boxes of pastries represent the joy of living with Higher Power, now and even more so in the next life. And the final Monday, the last day of this mortal life.  

My gladness is deep

.

“I sense a change in my symptoms that suggests a corresponding change in my hospice care,” I hear my raspy voice say, the words, though clearly my own, feel like they’re describing someone else. My lung disease’s exhaustion and weakness feel kin to physical pain, one of the last phases of my disease. Denial has no place here as I make my way home.

Across from the wing-back chair in my study sits Eunice who continues companioning me toward the demise of my old body. Her eager nod immediately reaches into my depths and confirms this new truth in vigorous tones, unlike she’s expressed with me in the past. In the realm of chaplain, she is master; she knows when and how to respond to her hospice patients, when they’re near to striking gold.

Again, it has happened: Precious God speaking to me through others: this time, through Eunice.

I step back from these foreign words, yet strangely intimate and ruminate on their implications.  

Gladness fills me.

“…we drop any pretense and become honest with ourselves. We admit that we have been holding on to both an illusion of and a strong desire for power over our pain and illness.” Quoted from Step One, Recipe for Recovery – A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous (2015)

So, it’s about being transparently honest; nothing less will do. Given my decades-long history with joint pain, given my denial and rationalization fostering the pretense of being well and appearing like everyone else, developing an honest relationship with my body is daunting. Yet, this is precisely the challenge to be embraced in partnership with Higher Power and the CPA Twelve Steps.

Parallel to this task is dealing with the mortality of my body; it’s one thing to read or talk about it, but quite another to face its indescribable losses, especially relationships of the heart. Grief, a multifaceted angst, plays into this, as well.

For almost two years into my hospice care, there was little change in my body except for weakness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and the side effects of two medications to slow down my collapsing lung sacs. Speaking was becoming rougher, almost to the level of pain. However, deep breathing and stretching exercises have kept me strong enough to show up for the next day’s routine, even post a blog.

But with all symptoms worsening the past six months, my body has dropped much of its fat, no matter how much I eat. To counter this Auschwitz-like appearance, I stand in front of the mirror and pray for acceptance. “Accepting the unacceptable,” so says Step One, even the weight loss, so disconcerting, at first. It is working, but occasionally quicksand sucks spirit from me, only to be pulled back into sanity by my CPA buddies.

Without my practice of the gentle discipline of CPA’S Recipe for Recovery, I shudder how I’d be faring with my present circumstances; they must be experienced, one day at a time, until completed.

Then, in the twinkling of an eye …

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: