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I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed…of all your defilement. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove your heart of stone from your bodies and give you heart of flesh instead… so proclaimed the prophet Ezekiel in the Oracle against the Nations (36:25-26).

The year was after 587 BCE, the fall of Jerusalem, when he joined the captives in Babylon, in sore need of spiritual support.  

We, too, need hearts of flesh, given the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida that further traumatized the global wound.

We’ve only to ask …

“Here! Take the end of your stick and I’ll guide you to the treadmill,” said a petite woman, her thick white hair bobbed below her ear lobes, her soft grey eyes and mouth suggesting they’d been partners for a long time.

Ahead of me, leaning against the wall of the corridor at the YMCA was another senior, also with curly hair and a neat mustache. His unbuttoned long sleeve shirt appeared threadbare with washings, his Stars n’ Stripes suspenders hitched to faded jeans, with no hips to hold them up.

He knew what to do. With both hands he gripped the end of his white cane and followed, one slow step followed by another, until they stopped behind the treadmill. After she helped him climb on and set the controls, she turned on the one next to his, and together they walked.

This elder man was no stranger, although drastically altered in appearance. On my way to meetings, most Sunday mornings, I used to watch him climb the hills in my neighborhood, his blind stick instructing each step he took. I often wondered who took care of him, his grooming and attire always in good taste. Never was he without his high visibility vest with safety stripes that complimented his khaki pants. He seemed aware of seasonal changes and the beauty around him. Although he was alone, he was always companied, his joy overflowing.

Then, I often bemoaned my sightedness that missed out on life’s fullness. It still occurs.

Nothing aggrieves the psyche like disease, destruction of property, desertion, divorce, or death. Such losses, of whatever magnitude, shade the psyche for indeterminate periods of time—in their wake, steaming pitch burns useless dross from unlived lives.

At the onset of loss, thick soot obliterates identity and greases confusion into riderless barreling skateboards. Impenetrable night shrouds the spiritual faculties, rendering them inert, colorless, and isolated. Kettle-black metal chains bind imagination and fog memory. Tears moisten lead pieces of “what used to be,” which further stab throbbing hearts. Shadows of reality trick ill-formed decisions necessitating correction and more change, perhaps dislocation. Panther-like, anger blazes, then subsides and hides until its next surge.

Such are the shades of grief as sufferers pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. Many have already perished; many wounded; many homeless.

Such is the painful plight of Haitians and Afghans and countless others. For them, we continue praying: “We ask Your protection and care with complete abandon.”

The Light of Life will return–It depends on where you look.

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