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Outside my study window, another lesson unfolds. Dove-gray skies feel pregnant with showers but only release droplets upon single leaves of the viburnum, then sets them aquivering; those surrounding them remain still. This image speaks of the seeming randomness of physical death: One is struck while others are engaged in life, until their turn—or so it seems.

But a plan far greater than our human perception exists, and it’s not of our doing. At times, the appearance of a life shortened by accident or disease compounds the grief of loss, the thwarting of opportunities, and the shortening of longevity. Individuals must re-group and move on with their lives.

Since mid-June, death has stilled the breathing of friends, relatives, and neighbors, losses that crimped my former world, still further. Questions of how it was, remain unanswered.

Instead of succumbing to loneliness’s pinch, better to pray for acceptance with the mantra:

Your will, not mine, be done.

Such prayer works its wisdom into the marrow of my bones and enlarges faith in God’s plan for my transition. For the present, like the leaf without the droplet, I cling to the viburnum bush.

Inhale/exhale: for most of us, breathing is an unconscious process but vital for living. For those with pulmonary issues, though, breathing becomes conscious and maintains intimate contact with reality. Accustomed defense mechanisms cease; in their absence, emotional honesty deepens, and the search for the meaningful increases.

Such has been my experience. My daily dependence upon medicines dispensed through a nebulizer, morning and evening, continue treating my hardening air sacs and teaching me, as well, through listening to the world around me.

This morning, a dear friend shared a significant quote from the fifteenth-century Indian poet and mystic Kabr:  

What is God? the student asked? He is the breath inside the breath.

I was already familiar with the Hebrew word, ruah, signifying God’s breath and or spirit, used in the two Genesis stories and in Pentecost’s gift of tongues, found in the Acts of the Apostles. Decades of meditations on this concept seemed to postulate a God, outside of me who somehow cared and protected me for long years. But Kabr’s experience of God as Breath has revolutionized my sense of Him, and the use of the nebulizer.

Ordinarily an exhausting and boring treatment requiring a minimum of seventy inhalations, each one now begins with awareness of emptied lungs, slowly filling them until unable to take another breath, but taking another, sometimes two, that touches my Essence—admittedly, a different way to meditate but it works.

I suspect this practice of Kabir’s understanding must alleviate the sting of physical death. There’s no record of his own.

I jolted awake around 3:30 A.M. with this dream:

Word had gotten around that I was actually dying. My doorbell rang. My phone rang. Others knocked on the opened front door and came in and made their way to my bedroom, already filled with others paying their last respects. I’m sitting up in my full bed, unsupported, wearing a T-shirt, my forearms resting on the covers. Shortness of breath prevents me from speaking clearly. My words are muddled.

This startling dream gave me considerable pause: the ravages of death in my body, witnessed by others. Other dreams have suggested end-of-life issues, each with its own lesson, but none this specific.

My first response to this morning’s dream was repulsion toward the crowds filling my bungalow and their raucous noise. Seated atop my full bed, however, you would never have known: I was all smiles and gratitude toward my well-wishers, despite shortness of breath and muddled words.

I’ve always envisioned my serene passing like a beam of sunlight slowly opening onto vistas of Quiet Beauty.

Yet, no indications of physical death appear imminent today. In view of my recent shift—letting death have its will in my body, when and how it will—this morning’s dream seems more of a call for a deeper stillness in my psyche, for a more mindful maintenance of my boundaries in the daylight world, and for communion with each remaining life breath in the time allotted me.

My gratitude for the opportunity to prepare for the greatest experience of this life knows no bounds—to enflower it with full-blown white roses that never fade.

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