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Outside my study window, the morning sun casts patterns of pointed leaves upon those beneath them and prickle-shades the trunks of the summer snowflake viburnum. In one of the niches still broods the cardinal in her twiggy nest. It’s been days of stillness, at times, her feathered head moving from side to side with the regularity of an oscillator. With her, I watch and wait for new life.

Whoops! Something shakes one of the trunks, its intrusion feels violent. Among the leaves and spent blossoms, a gray squirrel flickers up the trunk toward the nest. Within the cover of more leaves blur two forms: the squirrel and the cardinal, jettisoned into the air and disappear—no evidence of their remains on the mulched mound beneath the shrub.

I wait for I know not what.

In the next moment, reappears the cardinal flying toward the shrub, until repositioning herself atop the nest. The quiet resumes.

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 two years, 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.

Withal, deeper honesty and willingness facilitate my participation. With the continuing support of my CPA buddies I’m moving through this final transformation, one day at a time—Just something I have to go through. It’s working…

As I recall the Genesis story of Cain and Abel (4: 1–16), I’m not as shocked by our distraught world, shimmering with incurable disease, violence, and corruption. From its very beginnings, evil has seeded our world with the Seven Deadly Sins: anger, pride, lust, greed, sloth, gluttony, and envy. I know, because I have all of them, as does everyone else.

When failed instincts succumb to temptation to have more, to be more, or to leave a trail of monuments in their honor, violence inevitably ensues, whether around the kitchen table or the conference table.

Examples of evil in my lifetime are rife: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. The Killing Fields in Cambodia, Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago, Castro’s Cuba, and the corruption of Central American governments—all buzzed on the AP, but only handing out piecemeal information. The 1960s assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Dr. Martin Luther King revealed the agendas of the underworld.

Lynchings and other nasty racist practices also killed bodies and spirits. Our legislators declared war on unborn babies. Clergy sexually abused altar boys, leaving irreparable psycho-social harm. The proliferation of drugs contributing to the watered-down ethos in global societies still smells to high heaven. And the hype of the sports and entertainment worlds distract from significant life values.

But as with the plight of Cain after he murdered his brother, we are not left without resources to thrive in the midst of this madness. Those practicing faith in God are marked and will find their way, even to their deaths.

The Twelve Steps help scrutinize my behavior.

Available on Amazon

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