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Splat! Splat! Splint! Outside my window, water droplets animate lilac leaves lifted in supplication like raised palms before their god. Too early have scorching suns aged the longed-for-greening of shrubs and trees in our neighborhood. Jets of sprinklers spew water over distressed lawns, and flowerbeds peak with riotous colors.

Splat! Splat! The moistening continues, albeit more slowly. Hesitant breezes spoof droplets, careening into larger ones emptying into gutters like bobsleds on iced tracks. A juvenile squirrel skitters up the stippled trunk of the sweet gum and disappears in thick foliage.

Then, the watering stops, the oatmeal sky brightens, and breezes muffle their meanderings. Only solitary droplets remain upon the leaves. Sidewalks dry.

No drencher this morning, no spring-step mists, no soaker-hose-rain to massage clods of dirt—just Splat! Splat!—the ground only tattooed with dark swirls.

Such dryness nudges my psyche, bereft of dreams for several days. Deprived of my compass, I list about seeking this or that, in hopes one will reveal its élan and reconnect me with significant moorings.

So my dryness continues … until the next dream.

 

 

 

“No! Not that! No way! I’ve no time for this! I’m outa here!”

Most squirm in the face of suffering. Heart racing, breathing labored, shoulders tensed, the escape into palliatives, of whatever kind, is underway, until the distress is dulled. Few explore their setbacks and learn from them.

One of these is Karen Armstrong, British author, world lecturer, and winner of the 2008 TED Prize. Her memoir, The Spiral Staircase – My Climb out of Darkness (2004) weaves thirteen years of daunting reversals within the first verse of T. S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday: the paradox of turnings that appear to go nowhere.

What seemed like missteps in Karen’s beginnings—leaving the convent, failing her doctoral orals at Oxford, researching and writing scripts on Christianity and Islam and interviewing notables for BBC television in the Holy Land, teaching college and high school students, flipping out with an undiagnosed frontal lobe epilepsy—were, in fact, priming her psyche toward compassion, a discovery that wrought her conversion to the God of her understanding and one that permeates all world religions.

Karen Armstrong’s clipped voice, heard in lecture halls around the world and YouTube, still carries the incisive ring of God’s compassion in our world. The question remains, is anyone listening?

 

Watery breathing lapped the silence as I sat in my prayer-chair, the afternoon sun shifting slow-moving angles onto the hardwood floor—A cough, then a second one, evidenced my need for a nebulizer treatment. Such interruptions stamped its impress upon my old body’s malfunctioning like a signet ring upon molten wax, permanent, incapable of being removed.

Yesterday’s visit with my hospice nurse confirmed my hunch that increasing weakness signaled the worsening of my terminal illness, inching along in its progression. That confirmation evoked a major shift in my psyche, nudging me a tad deeper within the prickles of grief. For months, sadness has swamped me like a surfer’s breaking wave, almost drowning me until its release. Oceanic tears, I’ve yet to experience but their presence is mounting.

However, in-breaking moments of acceptance lift the pall of gloom and free me to rejoice in what’s coming—and that for all eternity.

Such fresh Love awaits all of us, even now, in prayer…

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