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While I was dozing atop my bed, my blinds slating the afternoon sun, soft tendrils of a violin solo nudged my spirit into shimmering realms. Eyes closed, motionless, l listened lest I interrupt the visit, for that’s what it was—I was in the presence of Beauty. Forever passed in a flash as Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Minor (1947) concluded with its virtuoso climax. Slowly, I opened my eyes, turned off the radio, and stirred my toes.

What had been an ordinary day morphed me within ecstasy, my senses enlarged, my breathing expanded. No matter my chronic conditions, I felt whole.  

Such experience speaks to the critical importance of feeding beauty to our psyches, wherever gleaned—the arts or sacred texts or the outdoors. Such nurturance opens us to the transpersonal in our lives and we thrive until the next dry spell with its antidote.  

Our God is generous …

Have you ever thrilled beneath scarlet maples with rain-soaked limbs? Smelled salty wetness saturating long grasses along beachfronts? Such sensuality accesses a wordless intimacy that soothes, that momentarily pierces the world’s humdrum.

It is precisely this experience that Susan Vreeland captures in her novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue (2000), the name given to a canvas, created by the Dutch Neoclassic painter, Jan Vermeer, in the 1760s. And such a young girl she is! Her sun-bathed profile seized by an inner awakening, pulls her away from her mending, her hand, idle, palm up. She is elsewhere. An unseen presence companions her on her life-path, still to be relished.

Vreeland’s imagination places this canvas within the Amsterdam of succeeding centuries and what befall its owners; eight unrelated short stories speak to the haunting beauty of this young girl and her domestic world, one that that still disturbs, encourages, and soothes.

So what lays beyond those momentary gaps in consciousness, so unexpected, this stillness that dissolves restlessness and paradoxically opens us onto harmonious realms?

Susan Vreeland offers a clue: “… grounded in deep beds of contemplation, the only way living things can be stilled long enough to understand them…” Such is preeminently gift and received with a kneeling spirit: Its beauty, related to the Sacred Feminine, still enlivens me.

Such was my experience studying Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

It was Halloween 2019, sitting on a gurney inside a curtained cubicle in the emergency room. Again, I needed help with my breathing and said to the doctor in words, not my own, “I didn’t want to come here—Was just here two weeks ago. We’ve got to talk.” From somewhere in my depths, more words formulated into questions, one after another. It all seemed so easy. I just had to listen for the next question, then ask it. The doctor’s responses made complete sense as a new care plan was evolving for me: it would be hospice.

Like Spirit transporting the prophet Ezekiel to Jerusalem by the hair of his head, I felt radical change coursing through my body. It felt strange. And it was those words that had set me up.

 Once home and cut from my moorings by the hospice sign-up, I floundered within its implications: it felt like a garment twenty sizes too large. Then, it occurred to me to enlist the source of those words that had so easily tripped off my tongue with the doctors.

Long ago, I had sensed my inner writer, often feeding me the next right word for the memoirs I wrote and for my weekly blogs. Through this relationship, I grew as a writer, the new skills also pleasuring significant reading. I had known of others blogging illnesses and surgeries, even composing non-fiction accounts of the dying. I would do similarly.

 Tentatively, I began blogging this new life path. The words felt scratchy but they appeared in my word processor and began telling my story, no matter if it was followed. I was to write. Then, my inner writer wanted daily postings, and the press was on.

Ten months later, that garment twenty sizes too large, almost fits. Through writing, I have filled out the empty folds with listening, beauty, insights, and significant reading. More substance will accompany me when I make my transition.

Clearly, God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself, a major tenet in Twelve-Step recovery.

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