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“They want us to wear masks when we see patients—as a precaution,” she said, her brown eyes warming as she pulled open the screen door and stepped inside. It was Kassie, the nurse practitioner, come to evaluate my continued participation in hospice, per the Medicare guidelines. She had called earlier. “I’m glad to meet you, Liz. Alice tells me how well you’re doing—you lead the way.”

Still dizzy from the nebulizer treatment, I took slow deliberate steps supported by my cane toward the dining room table and sat down. Instead of a computer, Kassie withdrew a yellow pad from her case, began questioning my symptoms, then added them to the penciled notes she’d taken from my chart. “Now, let me listen to your lungs—Yes, lots of crackles as I suspected—still yellow when you cough it up?” I nodded, covering my mouth and leaned back in my chair.

“And no change in the measurement of your arm since last time,” she added collapsing the tape measure with slim fingers. “Still 19—from my findings, Liz, you’re still eligible for hospice.” I breathed easier, glad for Alice’s and Eunice’s guidance.

As Kassie prepared to leave, she appeared serene in her blue scrubs, unmoved by the pandemic’s challenges. “Yes, since my husband’s also an essential worker, we’re taking turns homeschooling our nine year old. Our five year old’s still in the hospital’s day care with most of his friends.” Her brown eyes smiled as she spoke, her thick brunette hair swept up into a bun enhancing her loveliness. “And last night, it was such fun making supper in the kitchen. That’s never happened before. I’m sure we’ll do it again.”

Her spirit’s flexibility touched mine.

 

Like summer sprinkles, warm feelings soothed me as I awoke to this morning’s dream and recorded it:

I’m homebound as I await knee surgery. A dear friend comes by with her black and white shaggy-haired dog. Immediately, the dog approaches me, nuzzles her head against my thigh. I lean over and stroke her soft head. She squeals with delight. I also learn of a heavily researched series featuring Jesus of Nazareth. It will be filmed in the Holy Land near the time of my surgery. I’m very excited. Not wanting to miss a single program, I inform my surgeon and his nurse.

My scheduled knee surgery suggests a correction of my hobbled spirit stunned by the global pandemic and glitches of my terminal illness; it attracts my Dreamer’s intervention to repair the corresponding disconnect within my psyche. Such is the mystery of its on-going care.

The dear friend, a carrier of the Sacred Feminine, suggests hands-on relating: both her soulful presence and her black and white shaggy-haired dog disrupt my brain fog and restore feelings. With her pet, I also squeal, and the fissures in my psych coalesce into wholeness. Yet, there is still more healing.

Jesus of Nazareth appears stirring dormant passions: Long an integral part of my spiritual landscape, especially during Gloucester directed retreats, I heed the call to reopen the gospels and interface them, anew, with my end time.

And the Holy Land, imaging Creator God’s continuous action in time/space, bespeaks the planet Earth in the throes of turmoil. This will work out, with valuable life lessons for all.

Gratitude to my Dreamer streams from my depths, keeps me humble. On my own, such repairs are impossible.

 

 

 

“Beauty does not linger, it only visits. Yet beauty’s visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm, it calls us to feel, think, and act beautifully in the world: to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful.” So writes John O’Donohue (1956 -2008), Irish poet, Hegelian philosopher, and lecturer who sets my spirit a-shivering.

The lakes and mountains of Connemara, West Galway, imbued Donohue’s fluid aesthetics with rich dynamism, order, and harmony. From his stonemason father and Uncle Pete he learned the beauty of spirit and work. Widely read for decades, he culled insights of beauty from classical and contemporary poets and writers and psychologists and braided them into his personal sense of beauty.

In 2004 he published The Invisible Embrace – Beauty, essays articulating this amalgam, now his own; its ninth chapter, “The White Shadow: Beauty and Death,” seized my interest. Given the Creator’s affection for all that is, superimposing the lens of beauty over the underbelly of life reveals a different milieu: pathos. What seems weak, exhausted, broken, stunted, and breathless, is much more.

Such truth scrapes barnacles from doubt’s poison, catapults despair’s insanity, illumines the dying process with hope, and releases headwinds of change—inherent within this new direction is its own intimacy with Beauty who O’Donohue identifies with the mystery of God. Such finding evidences his compassionate listening to the terminally ill and resonates deeply within my psyche.

My study and waiting continues. Happily, I have another companion in John O’Donohue who made his crossing during sleep while vacationing in Avignon, France. So simple … just like his life was among us.

 

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