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I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat of grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it yields, it grows into a rich harvest.

This text from the gospel of John 24:12 has always startled my psyche from humdrum glitches and quickened my full awareness into the present moment. It carries an urgency I dare not heed.

In the time of Jesus of Nazareth, reputed to have spoken these words to converted Greeks who sought after him, the image of sowing fields was commonplace and often used as a metaphor. The death of the outer sheath of the wheat grain initiated the plant for further growth of roots, leaves, stem, head, and awn. Failure to actualize this process produced withered isolates and final death.

Even in our beginnings, there’s death: the sloughing off the placenta at birth, but it does not stop there. Awareness of sin or character defects warrant our full willingness to change as we experience life—To become our authentic selves before our allotted time ends.

Even more so, living with a terminal illness, the challenge looms. It seems as if Creator God implanted death within all of life: an irritant meant to actualize our potential so as to share with others.

Such enrichment surrounds us if we are willing.

Be still and know that I am God.

So proclaimed the psalmist, an imperative directed toward centuries of warring factions, both within and without. What is there about the human spirit, so easily impaled upon conflict, so easily seduced by Evil’s allurements that appear all powerful, the ultimate in satisfaction?

In our time, another unbridled war escalates in Ukraine with the murderous Russian offensive, twelve days old. Terror breeds more terror. Madness sours perspective. Blood stains once-manicured streets. Flurries of “We’ve got to do something!” fill the media like Icelandic blizzards crippling its cities.

Yet, another Voice compels our full attention. Be still. Substantial life-change is at stake and we know it. Naked, trembling, we stretch into our psyches and release our own trigger fingers, yield our recalcitrant wills, unravel murderous distortions, and unclench fists. In the process, we come to Know that I am God.

Indeed, this is a solitary war, even more critical than Ukraine’s, the sweaty business of engagement and retreat, of binding up wounds and receiving new ones, of regrouping until learning to walk anew, upright in spirit.

The spirituality of the Twelve-step Recovery puts out psychic fires around the world. Its practice continues helping me.

Tidbits of wisdom come from unexpected sources, like messages found inside Dove Promise candy wrappers, this one attributed to Sotiria S. from New Jersey:

Be fiercely authentic.

What are the chances of my receiving the same mandate from the same large bag of chocolates, within the week preceding New Year’s? I do pay attention to such synchronizations. An uncanny authority emanates from these three words, its preponderance feels heavy, like there’s no choice—seeded within everyone’s birthright.

Long years and terminal illness suggest unalterable limits that juice the remaining seeds in my birthright like slushy grapes in a wine press, even to the last drop. In prayer, I watch fresh wine splashing within earthenware vessels, its rings evidence fresh acceptance and willingness to move into the Unknown. But more juicing, over which I’ve no control, lies ahead, despite its diminishment sapping the vitality of my body, in preparation for what is certainly coming.

So this mandate, a viable practice for wherever life finds you, stands for another twenty-four hours:

Be fiercely authentic.

Its fruits invigorate our psychic depths, develop unique spirits, and precipitate reckless abandonment to the Realm of Being, within all that is.

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