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Our listening creates a sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person.

 I discovered this gift in another book while rooting around for a topic for my next blog—gift because of its striking use of juxtaposition: creates, sanctuary, and homeless parts with listening; gift, because of its power in shoving apart steel barriers imprisoning my psychic depths. I still wince at the scraping sounds on the cement floor of my prison.
 

Its distinguished author is Rachel Naomi Remen, medical teacher, author, poet, and currently professor at Osher Center of Integrative Medicine at University of California San Francisco.

Rachel Naomi Remen

So moved was I by this quotation that I decided to use it in the first person, then amplify it according to my present circumstances.

My CPA Recovery teaches the primacy of listening, of stepping back from distractions and become fully engaged in the beauty of the unfolding moment, whether shared with a significant other or alone, whether spoken or in print. Exercising the Twelve Steps facilitates this process.

Like pesky mosquitoes hovering over creek beds, my symptoms zap my inner quiet and prohibit listening—then, imprison me until time for bed and sleep with my “cocktail.” Such intrusions pull me out of prayer and into anxiety, impatience, and my need for help, more than I’d like to admit.

But when I’m able to sort through the rabble and bring compassion to the troublemakers, or the homeless parts, a new creation occurs: its colors, scintillating and fresh, like that First Morning Genesis describes. I find myself in a sanctuary, a place of communion, peace, and joy, unlike any I’ve seen around the world.

Only Precious God produces such revelations that buoy me until the next one, usually on the heels of a spell of aridity. I’m humbled and grateful.

“You’re good to go,” said Tyrol seated behind the Plexiglas screen, his expansive chocolate eyes studying me over his mask. “And you’ll need this to get in,” he added handing me the card for the scanner on the nearby counter. I breathed easier, the afternoon sunshine bathing the foyer in light behind me. My admission to the YMCA was free with my Silver Sneakers eligibility. 

“Thanks for your help. You’ll never know,” I said smiling and inserting the card into my wallet.

True, I still have a terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis; its progression, unpredictable. Since November 2019, the hospice nurses have counseled, “Just wait and take care of yourself. We’ll be back next week.” And they continue to come, noting signs of my decline in their computers: Evidence of my eighty-five + years unraveling my youthfulness. Then, I got tired of waiting for I knew not what.

In January 2021, I begin short walks in the neighborhood, with my helper’s support and my cane. How I relished the warmth of the sun, telltale signs of greening, and neighbors walking their dogs, having been housebound for so long.

With last week’s return of humidity, though, my spirit sank. In no way could I breathe. I needed an air-conditioned venue to continue my daily walks.

How I was led to the Silver Sneakers and the nearby YMCA is another story. Once inside, though, my crimped airways opened and relaxed. Lightness filled my lungs. My gait felt more steadfast, with less dependence upon my cane and none upon my helper, who followed me around the facility largely empty, save for a handful of seniors.

This will work, if I let it, one day at a time.

For most of the day, splishy-droplets scrimmed winter grasses, plank fences, and specter shrubs hugging my study, a subtle drenching sorely needed.

I pulled a chair next to the window, rather than collapse within grey’s moroseness: its palette revealed pewter skies, foggy mists, smoking chimneys, charcoal streets, sidewalks slickened like the hides of hippos. More belly rains threatened in the sudden splats whipping off my windowpane, then retreating as if scolded for intruding. Moments passed. Then, breezes lulled overhanging tree branches, slate-colored, and caught in its lethargic play a mussed piece of wrapping paper until lodged within hoar-covered ivy near the fence.

Then change occurred, slow at first: the droplets, icyfying. Plink! Plink! They caromed off my windowsill, sheened the piles of leaves resembling discarded gunboats in my backyard. Even silence felt like sagebrush with its healing aroma. The show continued. There was much to learn.

For an interval, all the greys surrendered to lighter hues releasing imprisoned outlines of my backyard. Rosy-greyness infused what appeared dormant. My spirit breathed deeply into the metamorphosis until swallowed by darker greys and night.  

But I had been visited as many others who had been colored, anew, by this experience. Grey does have substance.

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