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Barbs of disease, desertion, divorce, and death have always ripped the fabric of our humanness like a moth-eaten horse blanket tossed into an ash pit: solitary, smelly, and useless. Bereft of initiative and energy, we wallow in grief’s madness.

Stories from our long-ago shadowy past abound with versions of this madness, including its critical separation from our Source. Whichever story we draw from, our psyches sting and clamor for deliverance. The uproar, now global, continues.

Despite protective measures, Zoom, and other approaches for keeping together, disease and death still stalk us: their numbers featured in news outlets, together with wrangling over shortages of the vaccine. Desertion and divorce also fuel the statistics. Were it not for prayer, the critical thread to our Source, grief would totally engorge us in despair and more loss of life.

Jesus reminds us, Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted: the paradox of grief stitched into Baptismal garments of Kingdom living. It continues teaching me to let go of the fabric of my life as I’ve experienced it, over eighty-five years. At some future time, my terminal illness will cut its thread and I’ll be home. A hospice patient, I’m not eligible for the vaccine.

I’ve heard the thread is silver.

This morning’s emptiness rankled—Nothing to blog about and time was passing.

So I looked up emptiness in J. Rodale’s The Synonym Finder and discovered entries related to things, time, scarcity, mood, and speech. Mine was lodged between hollowness and exhaustion: the indefinable perimeter of my imagination and its splayed energy. I was certain that behind this emptiness teemed vibrant images yet to be developed. I just needed to dig deeper in memory.

During much of my life, emptiness experiences triggered hidden landmines, their shocks plunging me deeper into introversion. Around me, the world was not to be trusted. Yet, tripwires still snagged my shoes. In the wake of such attacks, I soothed my distress with shopping. With the change of seasons, I donated armfuls of clothing to Good Will. Yet, emptiness still stung.

My 1991 joining of AA modified some of this disorder. The Fourth Step with its rigorous and moral inventory launched my first honest self-evaluation; its completion revealed a larger sense of who I really was. Seasonal deliveries to Good Will dwindled, then stopped. Rather than my attire speaking to the world around me, I learned to cultivate a personal voice. Yet, occasional emptiness still happens, as this morning.

Yet, my present sense of emptiness has paradoxical value in Jesus’s First Beatitude, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God: It breathes the spirit of Twelve-Step Recovery. The less of my ego, the more for Spirit to flourish.

So, within my impoverishment/emptiness brim the untold riches of Kingdom living. At the top of the steps each morning, light colors the world with fresh grace. Everything looks different, even my transition.

“You’re doing so well, Mary Elizabeth. Just two more stitches,” the emergency room surgeon said as mother gripped my hand, diverting my attention to the ice skaters on the wall calendar hanging next to me. “I know this hurts but there’s no way I could give you an anesthetic for that cut on your shin—a nasty one.” Ten years old then, screaming heaved my entrails. In no way could I break free from the hungry alligators chewing on me, then spitting blood parts on the grass.

Such was my first experience with surgeons and harrowing pain. With each recurring insult over the years, the wounds and bones eventually healed and I resumed my life, but my body remembered and still does. A subsequent wariness seemed to harness my senses to skirt additional injury, and a growing compassion for others, so wounded, adhered to my spirit.

Through heart-prayer I also learned to reframe such experiences.The third Beatitude of Jesus of Nazareth was critical in this process: Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Its inclusion in the psalms and the prophets reiterates God’s critical interest in our lives, expecially when brought to our needs. In my perception, Jesus’s own satiation with loss informs this beatitude, a satiation far more horrific than ours. He, too, experienced the comforting, but not in the usual sense of the word: a comforting that opens the psyche to the ultimate of mysteries, the redemption itself. Within his suffering, ours makes sense.

Within this beatitude, Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted, I take solace with each day’s incremental loss advancing me toward my transition. When rough spots occur, I pray, “He knows.” This is working out …

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