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Helpful counsel from a seasoned man buoys the sacred work underway in my psyche: His name is Pierre Teillard de Chardin, French Jesuit Theologian and Scientist (1881-1955).

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
In front of the unknown, we are impatient. We should like to skip the intermediate stages and reach the end of everything.

Yet the law of progress mandates passing through stages of instability—of uncertain duration.

Only God can say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will become.
Believe that His hand is leading you and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete. It will pass.

I will be more than delighted when it will pass: difficulty breathing, continual use of Oxygen, nightly cocktails/drugs with side effects, increasing weakness, exhaustion, brain fog, occasional slurred speech, and dependence upon walker and cane. Helping me through each twenty-four hours are my spirited helpers and their hugs.

Despite the tangle of symptoms, my days flit by seamlessly like insects drawn to candle flame. I have little choice of what to let go of; it just happens, on the heels of acceptance—And with each acceptance, more of who I am becoming. And just as I had no say in the pre-birth development in my mother’s womb, so, too, I’ve none in its final formation. I bow to another Artist, at work, fashioning my birth into eternal life, for that’s what it feels like.

Daylight’s color and form give some stasis for this process, but eruptions of impatience during nights dismantles me even further and compels holding on to this vision of Teillard de Chardin. It helps.

 

It was Halloween 2019, sitting on a gurney inside a curtained cubicle in the emergency room. Again, I needed help with my breathing and said to the doctor in words, not my own, “I didn’t want to come here—Was just here two weeks ago. We’ve got to talk.” From somewhere in my depths, more words formulated into questions, one after another. It all seemed so easy. I just had to listen for the next question, then ask it. The doctor’s responses made complete sense as a new care plan was evolving for me: it would be hospice.

Like Spirit transporting the prophet Ezekiel to Jerusalem by the hair of his head, I felt radical change coursing through my body. It felt strange. And it was those words that had set me up.

 Once home and cut from my moorings by the hospice sign-up, I floundered within its implications: it felt like a garment twenty sizes too large. Then, it occurred to me to enlist the source of those words that had so easily tripped off my tongue with the doctors.

Long ago, I had sensed my inner writer, often feeding me the next right word for the memoirs I wrote and for my weekly blogs. Through this relationship, I grew as a writer, the new skills also pleasuring significant reading. I had known of others blogging illnesses and surgeries, even composing non-fiction accounts of the dying. I would do similarly.

 Tentatively, I began blogging this new life path. The words felt scratchy but they appeared in my word processor and began telling my story, no matter if it was followed. I was to write. Then, my inner writer wanted daily postings, and the press was on.

Ten months later, that garment twenty sizes too large, almost fits. Through writing, I have filled out the empty folds with listening, beauty, insights, and significant reading. More substance will accompany me when I make my transition.

Clearly, God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself, a major tenet in Twelve-Step recovery.

“Once upon a time in a distant land, but not that far away, lived…” So opens fairy tales fraught with cosmic clashes between good and evil, useful for today’s conflict resolution if properly studied in depth; and so opens listeners’ imaginations, hungry for worlds mirroring their own. Life has always been hard, and still is.

So how did these fairy tales as we know them come about?

In nineteenth-century Germany the spread of literacy and the improvement of indoor illumination began usurping the role of itinerant storytellers carrying tales of mystery from village to village. Such had been their practice for hundreds of years. Into this changing world came Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, both philologists, who recorded and first published their tales in 1812; their volume fire-stormed collectors from other countries, worldwide, to do likewise.

It would be interesting to track the accretions to the fairy tale “The Two Brothers,” before the Grimm’s Brothers recorded it. Twenty pages long, it contains the classic elements found in fairy tales: good/evil, golden egg-laying bird, a King, a Princess, their castle, talking animals, a fire-spitting seven-headed dragon, a witch, an enchanted forest, magic potions, contests, and trickery—Even the use of numbering to facilitate the memory of the storyteller. This fairy tale could have ended in several places, but seamlessly, it continued on and satisfied its listeners, and still does.

Unlike the integrity of the Grimm’s Brothers cherished tales, our collectors of stories—journalists—play havoc with truth, their intent to rouse fear and manipulate imaginations, rather than ennoble them. I wonder which version of the spin-doctors’ palaver, if any, will be remembered one hundred years from now.

 

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