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“Well, it’s official, Liz,” the hospice nurse said, her smiling dark eyes peering over her mask. I sensed good news coming as she unzipped her sleeveless quilted vest and sat opposite the Valentine bouquet on my dining room table. “Medicare has re-certified you until mid-April. Another will follow, but unlike before, there will be no hesitation—you’re finally beginning to look like a hospice patient, both in our records and in your person.”

She was right. Despite eating regularly, my weight continues to drop due to poor metabolism sloughing off the nutrients. Other than smaller pants my sister bought me last November, I’m loathe to replenish what’s hanging in my closet. My belt buckle holds everything together and keeps me presentable. Bulky sweaters of many colors cover a lot. Rather than pitch an old pair of blonde corduroys, this morning, my helper patched the hole in the seat; such still keeps February’s nip at bay.

Besides, my new slimness is quite the fashion, from what I observe online.

When I reflect upon my clothes history, a close look at trends had directed my choices and expended money, better used for other things, especially charities that I traipsed by. Only in later years, the ugliness of department store clothing drove me to significant finds at Goodwill or the Scholarshop.

Aside from this trivia about clothing, a time will come when I step outside of time and have no need of clothing. For the present, though, it’s about preparing my wedding garment, one day at a time. This, I cannot do alone.

Can the Creator of all lure poetry out of a stone? So begins the first of eight poems found in The Secret Embrace that mirrors the unique spirit of its Trappist author, Thomas Keating, composed before his 2018 transition. Such mirroring nuances his contemplative bent, his life-long intimacy with his God, and his willingness to allow Him to reshape his psyche, not without the pain of being flayed alive. 

Such incessant inner work informed his service to others:

Abbott of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, his willingness to change, and to change often, created divisions among his monks, even leading his resignation as Abbott in 1982 after twenty years of navigating his community through the perils of the Vatican II Renewal. Freed from “his cage,” as he described that responsibility, he listened even more intently for direction. Co-developing Contemplative Outreach, Inter-faith dialogue, writing, and retreat work filled much of his remaining ninety-four years.  

I imagine the simple words of the poems in this special collection quickly etched themselves upon his spirit: his final response to the Great Lover in his life through whom he viewed the totality of life, with no separations of any kind—only embraces.

Interfacing each poem is a watercolor rendition of the sea by Charlotte M. Frieze, seen in its transformation and transcendence.

An inspiring read/contemplation for those special moments…

Available on Amazon

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