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I still remember being transfixed by rows of chrysalis, some dormant, some thrashing about, within the glass case of the conservatory at The Sophie M. Sachs Butterfly House in St. Louis County, Missouri. Only vaguely did I recall the egg and the caterpillar phases involved in the formation of the chrysalis. But only now have I learned what transpires within the chrysalis before its metamorphosis.

A violent scenario unfolds. For the first three or four days, rich fluids fill the the chrysalis causing it to destroy most of the caterpillar cells; its organs take new forms for the butterfly’s use. Some leftover parts, like the caterpillar jaws, form the butterfly’s sucking mouthparts; its legs, the butterfly’s. Partially formed wings continue developing beneath the chrysalis’s skin. Toward the end of two weeks, its transparency reveals the butterfly’s color and patterns. When ready, the butterfly breaks through the protective chrysalis, pumps blood into its newly formed wings, then flies away.

As I compose this blog, I breathe deeply into my own chrysalis, the symbolic container for my terminal illness, lLD with rheumatoid arthritis. For over two years, hospice has supported its sick phase, and the learning has been profound. Similar to the unhappy caterpillar in the chrysalis, my dismemberment continues: old ideas, ill suited for my individuation, are ripped from the bedrock of my psych. Dreams continue tweaking my distorted perceptions. New physical symptoms surface with corresponding natural remedies that offer relief. Yet, the downward slope continues and I have no control over the disease process.

Withal, deeper honesty and willingness facilitate my participation. With the continuing support of my CPA buddies I’m moving through this final transformation, one day at a time—Just something I have to go through. It’s working…

One step followed another, mindful of keeping my feet angled to each other so as not to trip. With my helper holding my left elbow, with the cane on my right, we slowly circled the court, its melting resembling Antarctica’s fragile out-cropping of ice. Ahead of us, the sun’s caricature cavorted like acrobats performing in a two-penny circus: balance was critical to the performance.

Snow-covered lawns, both hilly and flat, bumped in places like snoozing polar bears. Puddled sidewalks mirrored scraggly limbs from above; ice-melt-stained pavement resembled a child’s smear of cookie dough; fragile embroidered-like ice crystals edged bleached grass, the split second before melting: such impressions suggest focusing upon the area around my feet rather than around me. Yet, the firm hold of my helper allowed these choice impressions imprinted upon my imagination.

Then, a pause and a snatch of air. Above, ivory-blue skies invited awe: its expanse cradled the houses beneath, exposing pieces of black and brown tiles and dripping gutters. All is as it supposed to be, this benign afternoon.

I can still walk.

It’s about air-borne diseases and the air we breathe. It’s about actualizing our birthright. It’s about staying well—and it’s been going on for years, spawning opaqueness in the psyche. Listlessness, confusion, even panic, estrange relationships and distort reality. Flailing for the once-familiar ends—disease has taken its place, and in its wake: fear, suspicion, and incalculable stress.

In my perception, such a scenario exists among us. Pestilence, the fourth rider in the Book of Revelation, still sits astride his pale horse spreading disease and mayhem. There appears no way of suppressing his evil intent, recently targeting planet Earth with the volcanic eruption near Tonga.

But we are not alone. The Psalmist reminds us that Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (119:105) Interfacing with the power of this word in our psychic depths requires prayer, discernment, and rebuilding community with the like-minded. The guidance comes, if we ask.  

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