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I wait for words, my note card opened on my table, my pen in hand. Distractions assail me: in my neighbor’s yard hangs the KC Chief’s banner, its bold red and black design flashing in the afternoon sun. I shake free of the team’s fierce determination to trample the Raiders in tomorrow’s game, then adjust my note card and wait for words. They must come.

My friend of long years is ill with double pneumonia, worsened by a blot clot in her lung. Round-the-clock surveillance monitors her condition and keeps her bed-fast. This is just another hospitalization. Others have checkered her life-steps, from all of which she has rebounded, her cheery attitude still sunning others through her continuous practice of acceptance—Even more following a night in her own bed, in quiet environs.

Indeed, she exemplifies Twelve-Step Living, even during these uncertain circumstances; her discovery of the joy of living deepens and teaches us to do likewise. Over and over, we learn that it’s not about us.

In some ways, her hospital stays mirror my own, but with my hospice admission, my return is unlikely.

But enough of this word-game. My note card is still empty, the pen limp in my hand.

I begin, “Dear Judy…”

Chronic Pain Anonymous reminds me that the God of my understanding hides out within the 12 Steps. Practicing them, one day at a time, brings me into communion with Him, directs my attitude, thinking, and choices, provides a remedy when I mess up, and empowers me to carry the message of unconditional love to others. Therein, alone, I find happiness, not in people, places, or things.  

May you find such a practice in 2021 and let it change your life! It’s about staying awake and serving others. The joy just comes …

Happy New Year, wherever and however you find it!

Grace is like ebony wetness seeping into the chinks of my terminal illness: This, too, must be transformed—and so it is, instant by instant. Today, I’m fully alive.

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