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This is it, I said to myself, closing the front door behind me. My cheeks flushed, my breathing quickened. The second look confirmed my decision to lease this two-bedroom bungalow, despite having no experience caring for a house, despite my seventy years of age. Now that I was retired, I needed a quiet place to finish my book. This was 2006.

But I looked around again. The space I could handle, but the rest of the brick bungalow was an eyesore: the appliances, old; the walls painted in the drab colors of nineteenth-century peasants, with the exception of cherry red for the dining room; the hardwood floors, were scuffed and stained where once carpet had lain; discolored blinds, some blades bent, covered the windows. The infrastructure also needed renovation, together with a new roof.

Mature shade trees and perennial flower beds enhanced the exterior, however. Still, I heard myself say, “This is it!”

And the bungalow still is. Everything about it was a challenge from God: to replace the unlovely with beauty; to seek contractors for major repairs; to learn how to care for my bungalow until I’d arranged a circle of helpers. Every room contains multiple stories and when put together, express the woman I have become and who has actualized much of her birthright, before making my transition.

With the renovation of my bungalow complete; with my closets and drawers largely emptied, save for what I’m actually using; with my on-going psychic work protected with solitude and silence; with the bare minimum of loving helpers, most days, I feel deeply content and grateful for new growth. And my simple bungalow serves admirably as the container: God’s preeminent gift.

What could He have in store for me? For all of us?

Some have noticed a lull in my blogging. It’s puzzled me, too. No longer do words come facilely as I sit at my word processor, distracted by the flowering of the summer snowflake viburnum outside my study window.

Rather than there being nothing to write about, my apparent shut down is related to my terminal illness: interstitial lung disease with rheumatoid arthritis that crimps my energies, my mental faculties, and my overall functioning. Practicing daily acceptance in CPA’s Step One, these past two years, has softened the distress of my shortness of breath, extreme weakness, need for continuous rest, with increasing difficulty to speak.

Other than sloughing off my aging body for another realm, there is no remedy—save for the time-released morphine pill and two Nebulizer treatments, taken daily. It is this process I’m to focus upon—such was my Inner Writer’s intent in stifling words from my depths.

The end of my life approaches; its symptoms have their own story to tell, and I hope to honor them.

A significant story is still related in the village of Fleury, France, never rebuilt after the artillery and trench warfare of World War I. In the vicinity still stands the Benedictine Abbey, established in 640 A.D., and only shuttered by passing warfare over the centuries; with the withdrawal of Hitler’s menace, it was refounded in 1944 and thrives today.

This significant story, I mentioned, began in the monastery chapel, on the first day of the Christmas octave, in the early 640s. The Abbott, his advisors, and the community of monk and priests were chanting the Hour of Vespers, or evensong.

Anticipation mounted among the consecrated men. A new short prayer or antiphon of the promised Messiah would precede their chanting the Magnificat, the pregnant Mary’s song of praise and joy in her God.

Moments passed. Then, within shivered breathing exploded sacred words drawn from the prophet Isaiah:

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other,

mightily and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

As Vespers concluded, the Abbot and his assistants began distributing small gifts to his community and then returned to their Order of Day. Six new antiphons would follow in succeeding days during Vespers and quickly spread throughout European monasteries.

This is one version how The Great “O” Antiphons of Advent came into being, its author’s anonymity purposely veiled. Created in a chaotic world, they speak to ours. There is release, into the sunshine and peace.     

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