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With the Psalmist, I pray, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. It’s working. As I approach the tenth month of hospice care, I love my life exactly the way it is unfolding, one day at a time. I’m almost home.

Like the garden snake that sheds its entire skin for housekeeping purposes, my eighty-four years resemble its transparency discarded upon the grass. That part of my life, examined, owned, and surrendered to God’s mercy, is complete. A corresponding lightness enlarges my spirit for still more growth before my transition. I was delighted to find corroboration of this attitude in the Jesuit Karl Rahner’s On the Theology of Death (1973) in which he decries passivity: Death, the defining experience of our lives, mandates full participation.

Each gift of twenty-four hours quickens my desire for communion with Creator-God, my writing partner. Our intimacy deepens with each blog, with each significant read, and with spirited family and friends. Contemplation opens my psyche for further nurturing. Silence offers its savory fruits, as well.

With minuscule diminishments occurring in my body, however, I’ve no sense of what will happen during the last weeks of life. On my dining room table are six pill bottles, still unopened, for treating anxiety, shortness of breath, restlessness, pain, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, and seizures: clues of how bodies decompose before death. Mine will involve suffocation caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis destroying my lungs.

Weekly visits with the hospice nurse and chaplain continue affording information and support. Because of increasing weakness and breathlessness, I’ve hired a helper to prepare meals, etc. With her guidance, we’re enlisting the help of spirited caregivers when I require 24/7 help.

I often remind myself that this is something I have to go through, the culmination of human existence. A great adventure awaits me. I will not be alone.

 

 

This morning’s meditation on Step Eleven enlivened my spirit.

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the God of our understanding, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

 Seated in my prayer chair, my eyes closed, my legs elevated upon a hassock, I gave thanks for last night’s encouraging dream of quaternity/balance, its silence enveloping my spirit with tranquility. Slowly, I mulled over each word of Step Eleven, then listened for new insights—They always came.

Like fire galling dry branches, the verb Sought set me ablaze for this exercise. With the eye of my spirit entrained upon the next moment, I sat up straight and began deep breathing. All the more critical was my desire to improve my conscious contact with the God of my understanding, given my spend-saver sands cresting at the base of the hourglass. That I will come to know Creator God, rather believe in Him, that I will spend eternity in with Him can lead to soiling my pants.

praying only for knowledge of God’s will jettisoned my myopic sense of self and opened me to the mystery of on-going creation in multiple universes. As co-creator, I’m mandated to produce something unique for the inspiration of others; and closer to home, to accept the daily diminishments occurring in my old body—a new experience, not without its moments.

That’s where the power to carry that out came into awareness. The rough spells of breathing, the eruption of knife-pains that eventually pass, the need to take more breaks from meaningful activities, the rigors of deep breathing and stretching exercises—all find succor in this power. And another day spoons into another, with more spiritual growth that graces my immortal spirit.

At 3:45 A.M. I awoke with this curious dream, with its lesson for today:

During my absence from home, Martha had hung a paint-by-numbers scene of a wooded area, its colors garish and bleeding, over a mural in my living room. I’m shocked, then angered even more when I discover the gaping hole she’d made for the nail, the plaster on the floor.

 During my absence from home suggests gaps in my attention span, my not being fully present to the inner workings of my thoughts, motives, and choices in my psyche— Relapsing into denial, rationalization, and idealization, or even worse, dissociation from my body. With increasing fatigue, all the more important for me to take more timeouts for rest. Happily, my REM sleep deepens the quality of my sleep and provides multiple dreams that cue me through this process of diminishing health.

Martha, the extroverted shadow of my sister, suggests the need to balance out my limited energies, especially saying “No.” to others when too exhausted to speak; not to force myself, even when wearing oxygen. The hospice nurse has told me that ILD will eventually harden my lungs, cutting off speech altogether, a process already underway, albeit slowly.

hung a paint-by-numbers scene of a wooded area suggests unwanted people, places, things no longer conducive to this last phase of my individuation. That Martha caught me unawares mandates my willingness to become more vigilant, more discerning.

I’m shocked, then angered speaks of feelings that can easily plunge me into self-pity, even more poison for my psyche, which whacks conscious contact with HP into smithereens—An intolerable situation.

So this morning’s dream calls for more discipline to remain fully conscious with the help of CPA’s Twelve Steps and the spiritual fellowship. To this, I remain committed, despite slips.

 

 

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