You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘transforming grace’ tag.

“When we accept our powerlessness, we become teachable and willing.”

This sentence from Recipe for Recovery – A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous again opens my psychic depths to new freshness, despite frequent highlights and marginal notes from past insights. This is, indeed, a graced paperback composed by its anonymous members and published in 2015. To these authors slanted with chronic pain and illness I am indebted, their having found a way to live fully through the daily practice of the Twelve Steps.

Powerlessness, the central reality of my humanness, wakens me each morning to the challenge of another twenty-four hours—Foremost are my symptoms with their limits: the shrinkage of air sacs in my lungs causing shortness of breath, my deformed hands complicating simple tasks, my low energy diminishing speech, my weight loss despite good nutrition, and unsteady gait, with dependence upon cane-walking lest I fall. And the need for sleep that consumes my former free time.

With acceptance of each minuscule loss, in light of Steps I, II, and III, I’m empowered to pause, get my bearings, and reinvent my new reality. In retrospect, it’s been this way ever since joining CPA four years ago.

In these diminishments, I’m never alone: Higher Power’s presence within my CPA buddies, within daily telephone meetings, and within CPA literature continually open me to another culture with its amazing discoveries of joy and support. Such crimps the psychic space that negative thoughts used to occupy but they’re still there, and there’s always work to do.

Although the sentence, “When we accept our powerlessness, we become teachable and willing,” applies to CPA, its practice by the healthy can only ease the inevitable setbacks that come with our humanness. I wish I had known this wisdom, decades ago.

You Tube’s three stanzas of the anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” moved me deeply, its one hundred-year-lyrics still sung in Black Churches, in Black History Month seminars, and other events. The anthem’s vision speaks to those willing to listen: a plea for Liberty to the God of silent tears.

The dismal failure of the Civil War Post-Reconstruction in late nineteenth-century America compelled James Weldon Johnson, lawyer, school administrator, prolific writer, and poet in Jacksonville, Florida, to compose these lyrics. Tears flooded him after listening to his brother’s rendering them in the word-painting technique: the melding of images upon the soulful melody in A flat major, often used in spirituals.

“ Lift Every Voice and Sing” was first presented to honor the1900 visit of educator Booker T. Washington to the Black school, Stanton, where Johnson was principal. Those five hundred singers, many becoming teachers, carried the anthem with them, and taught other classrooms, which, in turn, spread this vision of hope.

In 1919, the NAACP proclaimed, “ Lift Every Voice and Sing” the Black National Anthem of America; it also spirited the1960s Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King.

YouTube carries several versions of this stirring anthem.

“Next week it’ll be eight months since I signed on for hospice. Does this kind of thing happen very often?” I asked while looping the cannula around my ears and flipping on the switch of the concentrator, its pumping and wheezing sounds filling the quiet of my dining room. Through the panes of the French doors, houseplants greened in the morning sun.

“Sounds like your experience doesn’t correspond to hospice patients you used to see when you were working?” Across from me sat Eunice for our weekly visit, her questioning mine, a technique that had opened out our dialogue at other times. She sensed my impatience with the process.

I nodded, waiting her response, from the heart. For months she had supported my spiritual growth as I moved through my end time flitting by like wind-gentled leaves. I was the lighter because of it, more accepting, most days.

“We occasionally see patients who remain a short time in our care and make their transition.” She thumbed her wooden wedding band: narrow, mocha in color, its circumference engraved with dark squiggles, then added, “However, others remain longer, especially heart patients—up to a year or more. So there’s nothing unusual about the course of your illness, given the drug that’s still working for you—Giving you more time to blog that’s honing your passion for eternal life.”

I sensed she was smiling behind her protective mask, rippled with what looked like clown smiles that jarred the beauty of her own. Still her words countered the tomfoolery of the mask.

More exchanges followed until within me a deeper level of acceptance surfaced: trust the process in its opaqueness, despite subtle worsening symptoms. Again, Eunice nodded, her soft eyes caressing my fresh resolve. How seamlessly she fitted into my world, then withdrew, barefoot, from our experience with the Sacred.

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: