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Only the whir of the potter wheel licked the stained walls of the studio as an apron-clad artist cupped a mound of clay slip with wet hands. Next to the wheel laid scalpel-like knives, sponges of various sizes and textures, wires strung to handles, other cutters, twigs, and leaves. But the potter’s sensitive hands, sinewy and dripping wet, caught my attention: She seemed to know when to pause, slow the wheel, add more clay, etch designs upon the lip, indent patterns, and so much more. With others, I looked on, hushed by the emerging bowl taking shape on the wheel.

 After the potter slip-wired the bowl from the wheel and set it aside to dry, she focused upon her students and smiled. “You can do this too. It just takes practice—That’s why I’m here.”

Then, as well as now, this experience mirrors Potter God’s ongoing intimacy in bringing forth new life, within limits of time and space. Like the hollow in the earthenware bowl, my body of eighty-four years has held a treasure—no matter chronic pain’s tenuous hold on my life. Light always emerged and I did find my way, albeit with new direction and resolve.

 However, my ILD with Rheumatoid Arthritis is unique: There’s no getting better, only imperceptible decline and with it, moments of terror until countered by CPA’s Step I and those following. In some future moment, Potter God will slip-wire my body from the wheel of life and set me free from my present diminishments. Until then, I wait and pray… and ask you to do the same. I’m grateful.

 

 

 

Yet another harrowing read has emerged from the ruins of Nazi Germany: White Rose Black Forest (2018) by Eoin Dempsey. From the first paragraph to the last, high drama ignites questions, teases out near misses, and displays murderous violence. Grave concern for the survival of nurse Franka Berger and John Lynch, a wounded American spy wearing the captain‘s uniform of the Luftwaffe, heightens the suspense.

What gives this novel substance, though, is Dempsey’s incorporation of the White Rose—a 1942 resistance movement made up of University of Munich students and their philosophy professor. For eight months they printed and distributed pamphlets informing the populace of Hitler’s true agenda, until caught and many executed by the Gestapo. Among them was blonde, blue-eyed Franka, only spared because of her Aryan features and the prospects of her birthing children to support the Third Reich’s Thousand Year Millennium.

And the wintry Black Forest, a large mountainous region in southwest Germany, serves as a volatile character: Its blizzards, ice storms, moonlit nights, and freezing temperatures tense the plight of the pursued and their pursuers.

Donovan’s judiciously selected images and terse dialog imprint this riveting story upon his readers. With Franka and John, we identify with their bone-shuddering cold, exhaustion, hunger, and thirst; with them, we recoil from the Gestapo’s cunning.

In my perception, the noteworthy merit of White Rose Black Forest lies in activating psychic wars within our depths, where Gestapo-like insanity lurks, searching for lapses in consciousness.

In my present circumstances, vigilance is key.

 

Like a newborn latching onto her mother’s nipple, contentment forms my psyche. Again, I’ve found the Source. I’ve only to milk Step III’s directive: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. The decision gives me pause, even today.

Only when seated around the tables of AA did I discover my self-absorption and self-centeredness related to decades of living with chronic pain and illness. In no way could my will have developed: it resembled Swiss cheese. Bereft of energy, I allowed others to make decisions for me, then adjusted to the outcomes. Ill-fitting ones stressed my symptoms even more. With minimal understanding of Steps I and II, I began the arduous task of choice-making until finally grasping the import of Step III. I was becoming my own person.

But my terminal illness has sharpened the focus: Existentially, I am letting go of the only life that I’ve ever known, surrendering it within God’s care. This is also true of my choices.

Such living mandates full consciousness of my Caregiver, since the moment of death only occurs in the present, not the past or future, per Dr. Singh. My dawn practice of meditation, with deep breathing, opens onto an emerging sense of self—something to do with my eternal destiny.

Yet, shadow stuff from my unconscious intrudes into my awareness, stirring up angst, doubt, shallow breathing, plummeting me within the unmanageability of Step I. Once again, I return to the Source and suckle. Nourishment is always there.

 

 

 

 

 

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