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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.


At 3:30 A.M., I smiled, recording this dream:

After a long absence, I’ve returned to the Lindell Club to attend a Women’s meeting of Alcohol Anonymous. Animation swells the room filled with mismatched tables and chairs. Sunshine streams through streaked windows. When my recovery buddies spot me, they run over and hug me.

The Lindell Club, housed in an 1890s brownstone, has been a privately maintained hub for recovering alcoholics in the Greater St. Louis area since 1950. A significant container for changing lives, it has served me well as far back as 1991, when I first found my way up the marble steps to the front stoop letting onto the massive black doors. That noon meeting launched my entrance into Alcoholic Anonymous and my life has never been the same.

The image of mismatched tables and chairs speaks of AA’s identification with the first beatitude of Jesus: Blessed are the poor of spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven, an identification that also extends to material things. Only the lowly can access Higher Power’s transforming grace for the willingness to change everything; with light hearts, we participate in His dream for us.

(I still remember the faded leatherette peeling from the chair in which I was sitting that first afternoon.)

And the image of my recovery buddies suggests vibrant healing of the Feminine spirit within my psyche. Multiple years of self-hatred and emotional dishonesty, juiced by sweet wines, had scarred my psyche. Desperate for relief, I was heartened as others shared their experiences working the 12 Steps. Immediately, I began the arduous task of self-scrutiny that led to meaningful relationships with Higher Power, others, and myself. Although presently homebound, isolation no longer blocks me from others.

This dream feels like Higher Power’s winking “Well done!” Yet, only my last breath will complete this graced work.


Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for wisdom and love—so wrote Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207 – 1273), Sufi mystic, Islamic scholar, and poet.



Certainly, Rumi tasted the gall of grief in the loss of his soul mate and teacher, the wandering Sufi mystic Sham al-Din. For four years, night and day, his teaching had led Rumi to cultivate the path of the heart; such cultivation demanded trenchant asceticism that wiped out self-will and decried materialism in its multiple disguises. Under Sham’s tutelage, Rumi also set aside his rigorous Islamic studies and sermons that he delivered in the mosques of Konya (Turkey). Together, Sham and Rumi’s mysticism flourished. However, one night, Sham disappeared, thought to have been murdered by one of Rumi’s son.

Such an existential loss speaks of Rumi’s willingness to suffer the insufferable with a an open heart; its strange fruits, subsequently, enabled him to penetrate words and uncover fresh symbols linking his readers to the Sacred—Such accounts for his poetic image, garden of compassion, cited above. Within apparent death emerge seedlings of psychic growth that bear close watching: love and wisdom.

Rumi’s saying reminds me not to lose heart when grief’s swamping, so unexpected, assails me. I know, in time, it will pass and it does, not without deepening its residue for my transition. True, I’ve let go of much, but I’m not there, yet. There is still my inconstant will, floozy, fidgety, quaking—Still to be disciplined by grief’s flowering. To this I surrender, anew.



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