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We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Taken from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

At 7:15 A.M., I awoke with this dream:

A very old nun is dying in her infirmary cell, its door closed until this morning when I noticed it.

This dream recalled my experience as a young nun with first vows, newly assigned to the community’s 12-grade Academy in New Orleans. It was August 1963. I was asked to take my turn praying by the bedside of a comatose old nun. The sister infirmarian saw my distress and explained features of the dying process, underway: irregular breathing, death rattle, sunken cheeks, blue feet, mottled arms resting atop the thin bed sheet. But there was no prayer that afternoon; instead I watched the oscillating fan wrap humid sighs around the old nun’s nightcap, tied under her chin.

Long years passed before squeamishness around the dying lessened, but that that would happen to me was kept at bay, even while working with hospice patients.

However, this morning’s dream appears to be another invitation to explore death, up close—my own. Weakness, difficulty formulating words, shortness of breath, need for oxygen, nightly cocktails of morphine and Lorazapan, Miralax for my bowels, decreased appetite—all speak of what’s coming. No longer can the death of my body be denied through the maintenance of my daily routine, the last vestige of control. I’m still supported by spirited caregivers, my new coaches into the unknown, one day a time.

It’s about letting go, about falling into the arms of God as others have done before me.

 

 

 

Planet Earth hisses with unquenchable fires of greed, rage, pride, lust, gluttony, envy, and sloth. I know, having experienced all of them, the eruption of instincts gone wild. Seldom is there enough. Needs for more pleasuring, more status, and more security eviscerate spirits, jaded and empty like back alley dumpsters. Whatever is trending at the moment catches excitement and maxed-out credit cards.

Such excesses compel hospital chains to construct still more facilities to accommodate technological advances, to woo the sickly with promises of health, to strip insurance plans of substance. Strapped upon Procrustean beds, the numbers must look right.

Such excesses impoverish families of basic necessities, over stimulate sensory receptors that frustrate learning, enervate intimacy, and obliterate traces of uniqueness. Sleep deprived, robot-like trudging from sunup to sundown, body breakdown accelerates aging and leers at change.

Such excesses drain leaders of courage, compel them to adhere to the tried and true, and compose windy legislation that serves no one. On all levels, violence continues eroding the ground we stand upon.

Such excesses have even besmirched church sanctuaries run like corporations to stay afloat, hobbled aging pastors of zest and watered down their homilies—Their sole purpose, to retire when permitted by their bishops or boards.

No wonder that Covid-19 threatens Planet Earth with its sputtering half-life, with its feverish weather cycles. Certainly, we’ve never seen the like. Lest overwhelmed, I resort to my inner world and sink within silence. Therein likes the antidote to this global Bedlam: the purifying flame of Spirit.

With the Psalmist we pray: Send forth thy spirit…and renew the face of the earth. Let the refining fire begin with our willingness to change. We’re not alone.

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