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Skeletal fingers, fevered spirits, agonize for a fix before the next holiday bash—and there are many, in the glitziest of venues. Desperation sours puke, hiccoughs frenzy the chest, joints scream in pain. Too chicken-hearted to opt for death, there seems no way out. 

But there is—for those willing to change. It’s all about waking up to the full implications of our humanness, rife with loss. Within such losses that knee us before a Power greater than ourselves, we sense a faint voice emerging from our depths: so unlike the carping one with the bullwhip. We sink back on our haunches. We listen. Tears pool our eyes. Chests stop heaving. Hands fold in prayer. Something akin to peace blooms like a fragrant rose: its white satiny gloss bespeaks Joy.   

And then it’s over. Still on our haunches, we slip to the floor and prostate ourselves beneath the mantel of silence. We have been visited and we know it, but its memory mandates action.

Nothing left for us but to pick up our cell and call for help. It’s out there, even during the Christmas holidays.

At 6:20 A.M., I woke with this dream:

It is evening service at the black church I’ve been attending, at the invitation of the pastor and his wife. Again, I’m greeted and enter the fellowship filled with hymns and prayer. Other than occasional constipation, I am well. The pastor, also a physician, will perform a proctologic exam in his office in the morning. Having had one before, I’m anxious.

The vibrant setting of this dream, the evening service at the black church, opens my psyche to hidden disorders that require identification and correction. The occasional constipation keeps my body/mind starved of vital nutrients, dulls my perceptions, and dumps me within the morass of sloth: Why bother?

The pastor bridges the gap between God’s presence and the worshipers in his black church: such engagement restores disorders that sludge human interactions and quickens spirits into living flames. On my own, I’m powerless to achieve the wholeness to which I aspire.

Yet, I’m anxious. Given my long-standing pride, it’s painful to admit my arrogance and willfulness, smirches upon my character for all to behold. For much of my life, pretense kept such disorders at bay; whenever aware of them, I barely nodded at their toxicity.

Since working the Twelve Steps in Recovery, however, such disclosures become frequent cries to Higher Power to effect the necessary changes. This is precisely the task of spirituality.

With the afflicted Job (10:6), I identify with his cry to God: You must search out my faults and probe after my sin. Such purification works: It’s about becoming humble and serving others.

I sit at my word processor, listening to hollowness stretch and groan like Martha Graham’s dance Lamentation (1930). In no way can I wrap words around these gyrations. Yet, they must be tended to, for that is this morning’s challenge.

Upon closer inspection, I sense grief’s thumbprint upon my psyche: its steely pressure compels crying, “Mercy! This is too much!” Such disorder muffles, drains, depresses, and ashens. Such disorder empties, hides, and stoves in. Such disorder frazzles, dulls, and flattens. It feels like I‘m feeding on my innards, already chewed on by pesky rats and spit out for more delicate fare.

Such was not my plan for this blog. I’d intended to honor a safer topic: my blooming forsythia shrub, in its sixth spring, bordering my front porch.

Instead, my woundedness must be honored. No longer is it acceptable for distractions to cushion my psyche from enervating waves that deplete energy and focus; within them, come life lessons, especially honesty and humility, if I’ve the courage to internalize them.

Key to this present lesson is in my total lack of control over my terminally ill body. Still in the aftermath of a recent vertigo spell, I’ve ramped up balance exercises to prevent falls—That may or may happen.

Just expressing this aspect of grief lightens it. In time, it will diminish altogether, until the next wave with its lesson—Transitions are filled with them, as I’m learning.

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