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Yet another harrowing read has emerged from the ruins of Nazi Germany: White Rose Black Forest (2018) by Eoin Dempsey. From the first paragraph to the last, high drama ignites questions, teases out near misses, and displays murderous violence. Grave concern for the survival of nurse Franka Berger and John Lynch, a wounded American spy wearing the captain‘s uniform of the Luftwaffe, heightens the suspense.

What gives this novel substance, though, is Dempsey’s incorporation of the White Rose—a 1942 resistance movement made up of University of Munich students and their philosophy professor. For eight months they printed and distributed pamphlets informing the populace of Hitler’s true agenda, until caught and many executed by the Gestapo. Among them was blonde, blue-eyed Franka, only spared because of her Aryan features and the prospects of her birthing children to support the Third Reich’s Thousand Year Millennium.

And the wintry Black Forest, a large mountainous region in southwest Germany, serves as a volatile character: Its blizzards, ice storms, moonlit nights, and freezing temperatures tense the plight of the pursued and their pursuers.

Donovan’s judiciously selected images and terse dialog imprint this riveting story upon his readers. With Franka and John, we identify with their bone-shuddering cold, exhaustion, hunger, and thirst; with them, we recoil from the Gestapo’s cunning.

In my perception, the noteworthy merit of White Rose Black Forest lies in activating psychic wars within our depths, where Gestapo-like insanity lurks, searching for lapses in consciousness.

In my present circumstances, vigilance is key.

 

Dawn begins with prayer in my wingback chair, my hands folded, my feet propped upon a pillow. Again, I awake to another day living with terminal illness. Silence invites participation in this mystery, urges me toward patience, and plunges me within the Unknown before whom I prostrate. My prayer is always the same: We admitted we were powerless over terminal illness—that our lives had become unmanageable: a modification of Step I as found in Alcoholics Anonymous.

The We is critical. In my imagination I seek out the terminally ill around the world and place myself among them. Dying is not unique to me and perceiving it so, hogties me within groundless fears. Not that I don’t succumb to moments of angst, but entertaining them only worsens my symptoms: fatigue and shortness of breath. So far, the little blue pill still helps me function within my home, with helpers.

Then prayer moves me within powerless. Here, I borrow CPA’s “Let go and let things be as they are.”—a humble stance in which to relinquish efforts to fix anything, manipulate outcomes, or stew over further diminishments. Such practice activates the present moment and engenders my new identity, literally a seeker bound for the true home from which I came.

And then follows terminal illness: my interstitial lung disease with rheumatoid arthritis, a slow growing disease that I’ve had for years, for which the only treatment is palliative care. Facing this disorder, in prayer, lightens its sting: It will become my way out of this existence and into exhilarating freshness.

 

 

 

Chronic Pain Anonymous reminds me that the God of my understanding hides out within the 12 Steps. Practicing them, one day at a time, brings me into communion with Him, directs my thinking and choices, provides a remedy when I mess up, and empowers me to carry the message of unconditional love to others. Therein, alone, I find happiness, not in people, places, or things.

May you find such a practice in 2020 and let it change your life! It’s about staying awake and serving others. The joy just comes …

 

Available on Amazon

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