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Whenever I have been in overwhelming situations, it has always helped to write about them. My terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis and the enormity of facing my mortality fit that category. So, I set to work in November 2019, with daily blogs posted on my website, Perhaps some would be interested in such a chronicle.

Hospice caregivers and helpers responded to my needs, minimal at the time; they still gave much to write about. There was no dearth of topics.

Months, then years hummed by and although weak, I was not dying nor discharged from hospice. Central to each day was the production of the blog, but the topics changed from issues related to death and dying to book reviews, significant scriptural passages, dreams, responses to poets, aspect of spirituality, stories from my past, global trauma, nature and its metaphors—whatever touched my imagination, with the accompanying words.

Challenging, at times, exhausting, the blogs filled what could’ve been empty time with significant learning for which I’m grateful.

With the worsening of my symptoms, however, I have decided to shut down the blogs and devote more time to resting and prayer and writing, if able, my dialogue with Precious God.

I’m heartened that some benefited from my blogs, still found on WordPress and Mail chimp and Facebook.

Images of spiritual cleansing abound, but one with a strong appeal is composting, discovered in my psychic depths through the study and practice of the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous.

Much of my composting stinks of long-term resentments and the many faces of anger carried from childhood. Greed, envy, and sloth have also lined the perimeter of my ditch for decades. Denial kept me prim and pretty and codependent. Seldom was fault owned, lest the thief in the night despoil me. Filled with terror, I hid from life—Safer that way.  

In the almost five years I’ve been a member of Chronic Pain Anonymous, the shrill voices of my sinfulness, past and present, red flag immediate recourse to the gentle, but trenchant, uprooting found in the principles of the Twelve Steps: honesty, hope, surrender, integrity, willingness, courage, humility, love, responsibility, discipline awareness, and service.

My adherence to them is on-going, and the results, gratifying: the very disorders I’ve discarded, with God’s help, have resulted in the development of a new sense of being that deepens with more practice. Only the death of my body will end this process.

Note: These changes only occur within the global spiritual fellowship of CPA. No one does this arduous work alone.

Thick skin, leathery texture, meaty fruit, green color, tart flavor—Yes, it’s the Granny Smith apple, only appearing in American supermarkets beginning in the 1970s. The experience of crunching into this apple finds it in many shopping bags, the world over. Lowest in sugar of all the apples, it requires a cultivated taste to fully appreciate its gift. Once mastered, green apples grace pies, crisps, salads, sorbets, rolls, juice, dumplings and so much more, dependent upon the imagination of cooks.

But there’s another story about the Granny Smith apple that few know in our country. There really was such a Granny: her name was Maria Ann Sherwood Smith (1799 – 1870), an Australian orchardist who worked in fruit orchards, a trade she, her husband, and five children brought with them from economically strapped Sussex, England in 1839. A combination of hard work, study, camaraderie with other orchardists adjacent to their twenty-four acres, and their children’s willingness to learn the trade led to the Smiths’ simple prosperity.

Pie-baking was another skill that Granny excelled in, often taking home prizes from local fairs. When not working in the orchards, she could be seen by the kitchen window, tossing out seeds and stems from the fruit she was preparing for one of her concoctions. A twenty-five-foot creek close to their farm caught many of the scraps—site for their composting.

One morning in 1868, her practiced eye caught what appeared to be an unfamiliar seedling with green fruit growing near the creek; it resembled the crossing of a French crab-apple tree and an apple tree: the remarkable outcome of the scraps of her compost.

Maria Ann Smith was already a loving granny before her discovery of the green apple tree, so its naming after her was a given. Try one and learn to enjoy it. 

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