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Snippets of stories heard from the other side of the curtain:

“That you, Jake!—Get me your ma!—Quick!” The muffled voice speaks with urgency, the palm of her hand thrumming the handrail of the gurney. On the other side of the curtain heavy breathing punctuates the drama. “Yeah—You got it—I’m in the ER—With a nosebleed. I’m full of packing.” Hours pass until her discharge to the nursing home.

“Your blood sugar’s down to 550—Down 200 since you’ve been with us,” the nurse says as she yanks the curtain behind her revealing muddied work boots atop the gurney. He moans, turns over. “If it keeps going down like this, we can let you go home by evening. Either that or keep you overnight to monitor you—At any rate we gotta figure out a way to keep you supplied with insulin.” More hours pass until his discharge.

“What’s happened here?” asks the doctor wearing green scrubs as he fingers the stethoscope around his neck and steps behind the curtain.

“You see—It’s like this—My mama fell off the porch and cut her head on the driveway.” Her words ache with fear. “Bleeding all over the place—She’s no business out there alone—I always tell her that—But she forgets—She’s all I got!” She stifles a sob. Still more hours pass until my room is available. As I leave the unit, I wish them God’s blessing. The toothless matriarch beams, her wound cleaned and sutured as she awaits more tests.

Such stories mitigate suffering and disclose the Compassionate Observer within our midst.

 

 

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Put together a man with humble spirit, who jettisoned decades of brilliant compositions and endured eight years of fitful starts until birthing his distinct voice, tintinnabuli (Latin for “little bells”)—and you will encounter the Estonian genius of Arov Part (1935).

A chance listening of his Miserere (1992) that was performed by the Radio Choir of Latvia and the Los Angeles Philharmonic poured balm upon my painful convalescence that was caused by last July’s accident. It also afforded me a lens through which to view the fractured world around us, tottering upon extinction.

This forty-six minute piece conjoins the Hebrew Psalm 51 with the Latin hymn, Dies irae, the Medieval Sequence found in the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead. Part’s intimacy with the living Word of God shimmers within the silent pauses that punctuate this work and seep into the marrow of our bones. Such is manifested through the interplay of the five soloists and chorus and the accompanying horns, woodwinds, percussion, organ, and two electric guitars. The overall effect is a new texture of the phenomenon of mercy that wraps us within wordlessness. We are made whole.

Part’s Miserere can be experienced on YouTube.

 

“Oh no! —Would look at that? —That’s me! —I can’t believe that!” It tickles, unmercifully, the heart, the mind, even the gut.

Even the presentation of these nine essays is a hoot. No serious authors use the color orange for their book jackets. Sky-blue graces the inside covers, the title page, the chapter titles, and page numbers; it also highlights the first letter of the word in each chapter’s opening paragraph. Lavender replaces the usual black print in the text.

Who is behind these reversals?

It is Anne Lamott, a prolific author, now in her sixties, “with bad hands and feet.” Again, she leads her readers into the intricacies of her seasoned psyche found on each page of Hallelujah Anyway – Rediscovering Mercy (2017). Wide-eyed, she does not flinch from life’s setbacks. Her soldering spirit enlists humor, the “wise counsel of teachers with flashlights,” the fruits of Eastern and Western spirituality, and the courage to change, with others, often—all within the mystery of heart-mercy that forgives and offers relief.

Anecdotes flesh out this process, often messy and unseemly.

Such tickling pries open the clinched heart and plummets it within deep prayer wherein mercy resides. We breathe, again.

 

 

Available on Amazon

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