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It is happening again—outside my study window.

 

Like hard hats, nubs tip the branches of my old lilac bush, caught up in the play of trickster winds. Over the winter months, the nubs appeared dormant, as if pondering their eventual flourishing. Overcast skies, drenching rains, and bone-chilling temperatures imprisoned them in darkness.

But not so this morning—there is a change: the swollen nubs are splitting apart; beneath the shriveled skins glimmer a new green as if hesitant to trumpet the earth’s warming. Such coloring stirs memories of other spring-watchings that unfolded like gyrating clowns tooting horns and clanging cymbals.

Like the bud, the terminal illness in my body is splitting open colorful vistas for further exploration: dreams, significant reading, stillness, contemplative prayer, substantive phone contacts, and writing. New lessons swell my spirit and keep it fresh: gentling my body with its symptoms, accepting the inevitability of my swelling and shriveling, waiting for inner nudges to embrace the next right step.

Interludes of angst also occur, and I know to be still with them as they do pass.

More than ever, my spirit seeks an increasing solitude within my body’s womb-like darkness: therein, to remember, to pray, to forgive, to give thanks, and to embrace the Unknown. The gift of another twenty-four hours for these endeavors helps.

Admittedly the richest time in my life, this new coloring is working out as I await my transition, whenever, however…

 

 

 

I still remember being transfixed by rows of chrysalis, some dormant, some thrashing about, within the glass case of the conservatory at The Sophie M. Sachs Butterfly House in St. Louis County, Missouri. Only vaguely did I recall the egg and the caterpillar phases involved in the formation of the chrysalis. But only now have I learned what transpires within the chrysalis before its metamorphosis.

A violent scenario unfolds. For the first three or four days, rich fluids fill the the chrysalis causing it to destroy most of the caterpillar cells; its organs take new forms for the butterfly’s use. Some leftover parts, like the caterpillar jaws, form the butterfly’s sucking mouthparts; its legs, the butterfly’s. Partially formed wings continue developing beneath the chrysalis’s skin. Toward the end of two weeks, its transparency reveals the butterfly’s color and patterns. When ready, the butterfly breaks through the protective chrysalis, pumps blood into its newly formed wings, then flies away.

 

As I compose this blog, I breathe deeply into my own chrysalis, the symbolic container for my terminal illness, lLD with rheumatoid arthritis. For over four months, hospice has supported its sick phase, and the learning has been profound. Similar to the unhappy caterpillar in the chrysalis, my dismemberment continues: old ideas, ill suited for my individuation, are ripped from the bedrock of my psych. Dreams continue tweaking my distorted perceptions. New physical symptoms surface with corresponding natural remedies that offer relief. Yet, the downward slope continues and I have no control over the disease process.

 

It’s happened again! For the fourteenth year a single gold crocus has sprung from the mulch in my flowerbed, the morning sun glossing its cup-shaped petals. Nothing delicate about its thrust within the still wintry world: its gold, regal in authority, its grass-like leaf with a white central stripe pulsating gladness—sort of like Precious God winking at me as I move through these days of discernment.

Others, the world over, have thrilled with the blooming of crocuses. Even as far back as King Solomon (970 – 931 B.C.E.) who likened the Bride in his Song of Songs 2:1 to the gold crocus. Such fascination conceivably nudged it into the symbol for spring and the eschatological age. Central to both is regeneration.

Like shy lovers, pale greenings peek beneath winter’s barrenness and delight dog-walkers and toddlers. Energy has returned—no stopping it until months later when it weakens, and death cycles through again.

However, the eschatological age, characterized by the end of history, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and the messianic era, knows no death.

Religions’ sacred texts seek to pierce these stark realities, wrap words around the unknowable, and inflame the imaginations of the faithful. We stand within the ultimate of mysteries.

Despite the profundity of these symbols, we can still glean hints of what is to come. At least, this has been my experience shadowing my end time with daily blogs. New learning abounds and there’s no indication of its end.

Imagine relishing gold crocuses that do not fade and wither!

 

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