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“Get ready! Get set! Go!” yelled our high school coach, its fierceness goaded my heavy legs to run the perimeter of the hockey field with my gym class. Instead, a swish of dark tunics whizzed by me like wild ducks fleeing from hunters-on-the-kill. Alone, my lungs heaving, I gazed at the stillness of the surrounding fields, their wild grasses shriveled by the summer’s sun, with crows cawing and clowning around. But I was ready, I said to myself as I collapsed on the dusty ground and prepared to receive the coach’s caustic comments. I always got them.

It was always about readiness, a discipline of mind-body in the present moment. But I preferred fantasy to the rough edges of the real world: rather than play field hockey, I fancied the sun-sky above me, its thready clouds tossed by humorous winds.

Only much later, in the work world, did readiness’s importance flare into practice. I had no choice, but I still pocketed fantasy in other areas of my life—when no one was around. 

And then I learned of the bible’s use of the word ready—Over five hundred times, in both testaments. That fact cast a different light upon those ancient people and their responses to the revelations of the living God. Fully conscious, they were persons of action. For many, their physical survival depended upon it.

And centuries later, Jesus came out of this tradition of readiness. He taught in the gospel of Luke, “You too must stand ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour when you do not expect.” Never has my readiness been more critical than in my present circumstances. This attitude also finds expression in Step Six’s AA: “Became entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”

I’m deeply gratefully to have learned about being ready this late in life. I still have significant helpers.

Jesus of Nazareth

In conversation with the hospice nurse, I heard myself speak the words, Dark Lover, an image of death that emerged from my unconscious, later enlarged within Isaiah’s revelation: I form the light and create the darkness (45:7) Until now, I’d not seen this comparison—both Dark Lover and its counterpart, Lightsome Lover, glimpse the same reality, intimately involved in on-going creation, both its ascendancy and decline.

Like others, I’ve experienced my share of trials that began with a difficult breech birth. Trauma from fractures and food sensitivities that developed into chronic illnesses diminished my participation in life, but in retrospect, I did manage, with Dark Lover’s guidance, though not recognized as such.

His care and protection have seen me through caustic bone pain, the monotony of learning to walk seven times, significant falls, the dullness of exhaustion. Even more has he been present in prayer—teaching me: Your will, not mine, be done.

With this trenchant insight, I’ve a new lens through which to view my present circumstances. Despite the increase of symptoms, I’m prompted to let them go, and to deepen my surrender to Dark Lover’s care flooding my aged body and battered spirit, ever in the process of depth healing.

This is working out, twenty-four hours at a time.

Shortness of breath sounding like a flat tire and enervating weakness compel the directive, Pause! My walker and continuous oxygen support sinking into my arm chair and propping my legs upon an upturned wicker basket. Across from me, a male cardinal alights upon the board fence, its black face communing with the sun.

With each breath more evenly spaced, I begin hearing from my depths, You are just what I need. Moments evaporate like sun-drenched droplets upon the sidewalk after a sudden storm. Another communion relishes my distress, until the next pause.

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