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Who’s messing around with the rough edges of my life?

Whose sinewy hands tweak my brokenness?

Who forces me to feel my shards and claim them?

Whose fingers pull and knead, pull and knead?

More pinches, slaps, punches startle me.

Take me where I never dreamt sojourn.

Patting smooths my new shape.

A wet towel cools me.

Then explosion—

Like toddlers, jumping piles of reddening leaves.

Expanding-resting-expanding-resting.

What am I becoming?

More pulling and kneading.

Will this never end?

Yet this touch coaxes surrender.

A song releases mine, long hidden beneath barrels of stale flour.

Change continues:

More shifting from here to there.

My pregnant shape swallows my fears.

More waiting follows.

Suddenly, my belly is cleaved and braided together.

Brushed with egg yoke, I wink at the sun.

The brick oven’s fire evokes more transformation.

It’s happened–the aromatic new creation.

Above me a shawled woman blesses candles,

chants psalms to the Challah I have become,

offers me to be torn apart and consumed by her loved ones.

Within my new brokenness, I am whole.

An antidote to noxious noise roiling around the psyche is the Psalmist’s command: Be still and know that I am God. (46:10). When enslaved by obsessive thoughts, the ego has total control, and unless curtailed by a more powerful source, the hall of monstrous mirrors blackens, issuing despair or other addictive behaviors. Distractions and pills don’t help nor jags of self-pity.

When such disorders yelp for attention like puppies pulling at a toy, I pray for willingness to begin meditative breathing on each word of the command; over and over, I cycle them until they slow down and plunge me into deeper prayer. Then, I stroke each word with light.

BE

suggests the critical invitation to accept my tattered psyche with all its contents, known and unknown, to deepen the spiritual practice of awareness, and to be grateful for the psychic growth I’ve achieved; its uniqueness is like none other.

STILL

sets in play a dynamic that soothes the wounded psyche, that recalls past experiences of stillness—especially along the Atlantic Coast—and that quickens additional spiritual efforts. The Sacred is rarely found in commotion.

KNOW

speaks of the cumulative lessons internalized from suffering, colors the present moment, and co-creates with Creator God. Such knowing also expands psyche to be of maximum help to others.

I AM

echoes Yahweh’s burning bush revelation to Moses in the book of Exodus, and clarifies the identity of Jesus, used seven times, in the gospel of John. Life-long meditation on these texts have borne fruit in abundance.

GOD

names the ultimate of mysteries, the Ground of our Being to whom we transition in the afterlife. I’m humbled …

“I’ve never died before! I don’t know how to do this!” said Miki, slumped in a wheelchair at the table, her breathing supported by two linked concentrators whirring away like an intrusive helper. Lung cancer had created this dependence, her bloated cheeks bearing the indentations of the nasal tubing.

Her complaints drew compassion from her friends who had been visiting her in the nursing home since her admission, months before. Miki, the children’s reader at the city library, began to resemble one of her waifs—a wisp of hair emerging from her red knitted cap like a lost puppy. That was in 2016.

In my present circumstances, I think of Miki, of her initial resistance to the dose of morphine offered by the hospice nurse, of her transition, of the joyful funeral at St. Pius V, followed by lunch and memories with friends. Unlike, Miki, I’ve had almost two years managing my terminal disease and living with its culmination in the death of my body—sometime in the future, unknown to anyone.

I only have this twenty-four hours in which to breathe life into acceptance prayer and meditation as my energy wanes and I need more help. Yet, I’m still focused on my care plan, alternating blog composition, significant reading, and exercise, with resting, and listening to classical music. Difficulty making speech shortens phone contacts and visits. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to grow spiritually, if granted.

I learned much from Miki, ever mindful of her help.

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