GOD’S VOICE

Take Time For Yourself

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          God must have known this was coming. In the short days since He sent his messenger, St. Paul of the Cross to tell me to

Leave your soul free to take her flight to the Sovereign Good as God shall guide her

I have been a bit more mindful of not raking in dust and dirt into my soul lest I render myself deaf to the soft voice from heaven. Still, there’s only so much one can do to remember to close the door each time to some of the stuff the winds of life can blow into us.

          Late in the afternoon today, tired from work and the never ending deadlines, I told God once more that I’d really, really like to hear from Him, to be moved by His voice in my heart. It was a very hot afternoon, the winds were blowing about. While that did little for the heat, with the swish of the winds through the tree leaves, an unexpected hush stole into my heart.

          The later hours of the day came with the humid promise of rain. Alas, aside from a few drops, the silver rains took their blessings elsewhere. But I had scant time to sulk, for there was dinner to see to and some more work to be done before I turned in for the day.

          After I was done, I remembered I had not had the time to complete my reading of Susan Branch’s latest post, so to it I went and absorbed myself for a time in patches of poetry, quotes and verses, photos and gorgeous illustrations, all quilted together in a lovely celebration of life and living. Although it left me longing for the beauty and quiet of serene places, a languid gentleness nonetheless pooled into my heart.

          Then came 4 little words, and Someone pressed my spirit to alertness,

Take Time For Yourself

In this life, where the world owns so much of me – and is yet far from satiated, I must somehow find a way to cast out into deep, go to where the voices of life will dull and fall into quiet, till they are unheard.

For only when I take time for myself, will I hear Him.

          What a sweetly delicious way to enter the Heart of God.

That You May Hear Him

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Leave your soul free to take her flight to the Sovereign Good as God shall guide her.   ~  St. Paul of the Cross

          Sometime last week, there was a day when I told Jesus I’d like to hear Him speak directly to me. Shortly after came the verse,

Thus says the LORD:
I will allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak to her heart.~  Hosea 2:16

Right after, came the news of my colleague’s promotion, followed by the huge rainbow signifying hope the next day, and on the third day, came the Miracle. Later, pondering the verse from Hosea, I wondered if the “wilderness” mentioned there pertained to those 3 days.

          Still something else from Hosea 2:16 remained with me, like the soft, fleeting evening fragrance of roses seeing the last of the waning sunshine,

I will speak to her heart…

          Today, the quote of the day for me was from a saint I’m not particularly fond of: St Paul of the Cross. In the past, whenever he has spoken to me, he has told me things I didn’t like hearing. He bursts my bubble on days when I feel light and happy. In some ways, he’s like the string on my kite, constantly tugging me down to earth when I’d rather soar high up in the gold~tossed skies.

          But today, he had something different for me.

Leave your soul free to take her flight to the Sovereign Good as God shall guide her. 

          On a day when I’ve been so happy at home, cooking, gardening, studying, writing and just enjoying my husband and children, St. Paul of the Cross comes by to tell me not to clutter up my soul but to leave it free to soar. With his words, come others, familiar little feathers floating in on the quiet sunset breezes,

Keep away from toxic people

Do not waver

Take back your rest

Each one a tender nugget tucked into my heart by those who love me, on this earth as well as beyond earthly shores.

          This is the way, they say.

          To stay free.

          That you may hear Him.

Keep Going

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          Sometimes God chooses to speak to us in the softest of breaths.

          A few days ago, just to be sure I was living in His will, I asked to hear His voice. Life has been progressing at a gentle pace, led forth by an invisible light, even if some important things are yet unresolved. The bubbles of joy that accompanied me some weeks back have gone to their slumber, leaving within me a quiet and a sort of peace. Well and good, but I missed the bubbles and I wished they would come back. It was in this calm that I asked God to speak to me, to direct my path.

          His answer came unexpectedly, as always. This time through a passing glance at a title of a book by Austin Kleon, Keep Going. Brenda from A Beautiful Life had mentioned the book in her post. And just like that, from days of a heart curled in on itself, I felt the gentlest of arrows pierce me.

Keep Going

          That I keep my eyes on Him, not on the water I am treading, not even on the mountains and hills ahead. That I continue to work as I am doing now, focused and diligently, yet at a pace that has gentled.

Keep Going

          Two soft words, and then, the little window closed.

          And the watery meadows spread out around me once more.

Do Not Waver

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Jesus said to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith and do not waver, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.   ~  Matthew 21: 21

 

          Like so many others, I too began to keep a journal to track my spiritual journey, starting it just after a horrific dream on the night of the 5th of July 2015 when I dreamt of something hitting and destroying the bright moon in the dark night sky. After the dream, I felt compelled to note down thoughts and messages and dates – and so I did, diligently, for a couple of years. Then, life got too much and writing in the journal slowed down. Still, there were entries for every year.

          Recently though, a beloved family member who has been journeying with me but who did not know of my journal, advised me to keep a record of all the things God has said to me. It gave me pause since my own thoughts had fallen along those same lines these recent weeks: that the journal needed to be re-started. So much is happening that I often feel as if our family is walking treacherous paths, blind, save for the light of our faith. Just when I think we are safe, the ground gives way beneath us, rocks are aimed at us. At such times, I often forget how my husband and I were led to do this, mist clouding the memory of the weave of events experienced and words heard in our spirits that have led us to these moments in where in the dark we must walk.

          Today was one such day. Although I am firm in the massive decision my husband and I have made together, suddenly, I could not recall defining moments that have led to this resolve – and that worried me. Were we wrong? So, from the still and silent hours of late last night when the terrain dipped to another level of tension, I have been seeking God’s voice and His alone. I am doing this for you, Lord, I whispered. But help me remember why. Tell me if I’ve read the signs wrong.

          In the early hours of this sombre and still, grey morning, I went to place my seeking into the Heart of Jesus. Going to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland via livestream, I pleaded once more, Tell me if I am wrong, Lord. Let me hear Thy voice.

          A short while later, the opening lines of a much loved song, prophetic for us in the past, were seemingly cupped in small hands and placed in my inner ears. From the song, Well Done, by the Afters, the lines given to me were,

Well done, well done
My good and faithful one

          Tears sprang to my eyes. I remembered the night I had first heard this song 3 years ago. It had been a time of deep anxiety and of looking up to the sky for signs. Shortly after, dawn had broken for us and the joy was indescribable. Now, hearing those lines once more, suddenly, I felt a gentle urge to look up all the lyrics to this song.

          As I searched, I came across the verse that birthed the song,

 

His master said to him, ‘Well done, My good and faithful servant.   ~  Matthew 25: 21
          
          Wanting to look up the context of the verse, I was instead led to Matthew 21. Realising my slip, I made to return to Matthew 25, but it felt as if Someone had reached out and held my arm to keep me from going back. So, I went back to Matthew 21, a quiet certainty within me that I was meant to be there.
 
          And so it was. Before me appeared,
 

Jesus said to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith and do not waver, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.   ~  Matthew 21: 21

 
          As I read it, 3 words from the verse lit up with a strong yet quiet light.
 
          I realised it was God speaking to me. And He said,
 
Do not waver

 

 

 

3 Words

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          Just about 2 weeks ago, I became unexpectedly overwhelmed, reaching a cliff-edge I had not been quite so near in some time. Many times before, I have been overcome by exhaustion and a host of other emotions. But something was different this time. This time, part of me was calm and fully functional.

          But there was another part and that part of me was at the very edge of hysteria; I felt as if I wanted to just scream and scream till I was emptied of everything that had accumulated inside unseen. There was no rage or fury nor sorrow. None of that. Just an overpowering sense of being being filled to bursting with things that had no right being inside me.

          Thank God my husband walked into our bedroom just as that moment and I blurted out to him about how I was feeling. Very firmly and quickly, he told me I had pushed too much, that I needed to drop everything and rest. With that timely support in place, I did just that. Although it was just a little past 10pm and there were still some things to be seen to at home on a week night, I dropped everything, shut the door and picked up a book I had been reading since the beginning of the year, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land.

          The effect of that shutting down was instantaneous. Just a few lines in, a sudden inner quiet took hold of me. It was not due to anything on the page I had been reading – but I suspect just the fact that I had intentionally stepped away from something not quite right – saved me.

          In that moment of sudden quietening, I called out to my God.

Help me, Lord. I need help. 

          I was a workaholic and I needed to quit working the way I did and yet, not actually quit my job. But I didn’t know how. I had tried breaks. I had tried to not care as much. Nothing worked.

Help me, Lord. I need help. 

          Into that silence, I heard a male voice, with an American accent, speak at my ear.

Keep it simple

          Like a bolt of light, those 3 words pierced me.

Keep it simple

          I didn’t need anything more explained to me. Early in the year, I had heard a voice say to me, The time for work has ended. I wasn’t too sure what was meant. With each phase of lockdown we entered after that, I wondered if that end had come. Yet, it wasn’t so. Deep inside, I wondered if it meant that the old way of working had ended. But with the terrible crush of work that came in March, that too didn’t seem likely.

          Keep it simple suddenly made it clear. The world would go on the way it was going – it was I who needed to change my approach to work. The time to work as I had for more than 2 decades had ended. The endless 18-hour days, the vicious cycles I put myself through, the high intensity of perfection I pushed myself to – it had to go. It all had to go.

Keep it simple

          I went in to work the very next day and for the next 2 weeks with those 3 words firmly pinned to my heart. A clear stream began to trip and tumble within me. An exquisite sweetness began to light the edges of my spirit. Some days, I still came home very tired – but something had changed. It was a tiredness that was quickly healed by a day or two of good rest and sleep.

          In the past, none of that had worked for long.

          Today, I realised that the cliff-edge I had almost tottered over was that of irreversible burnout. Had I not been obedient to God’s voice through my husband, something could have happened that night 2 weeks ago.

         3 words sent from heaven had saved me.

Keep it simple

 

Lent 26 ~ A Quiet Gift Comes

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          I had been waiting for this day, this 25th of March. Feast of the Annunciation. Since 2016, I have been nudged to alertness regarding this date, this Feast, the day Mary said Yes to God.

          From Monday, when I began my simple 3 day novena to prepare for the feast day, my chest would tighten every time I thought about it. Was it anticipation? Perhaps. But I cannot be sure, because there was an underlying anxiety. An undercurrent of premonition.

          But the 25th of today dawned incredibly beautiful. Deep azure skies, a strong sun. Flowers in wild and joyful bloom, dancing in rhythm to the mischievous winds toying with them. Even my morning’s frisson of unease evaporated in the face of such sunny happiness.

          Yet, I continued to gently press my heart against Heaven. Give me Thy sign.

          And then, it came. But it was nothing like I had been stiffening and tightening up for.

          Instead, an unseen gentleness quietly led me on a little journey down an old lane of memory. I was brought back to verses that have never failed to quieten and still me.

Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.   ~   1 Kings 19: 11 – 12

          I know it should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. Not until today.

          I had always wondered what on earth that strong and violent wind, that earthquake, that fire – referred to. I would scan headlines and reports about Mother Earth revolting, laying my heart against each one, trying to find a common rhythm that told me I had found the answer.

          But each attempt was futile. I was brought to the gates and each time, left there, not allowed in. Until today. Today, the gates opened slightly. And even from the humble spot where I was, I suddenly understood what had been hitherto hidden from my spirit of understanding.

The gates I had been made aware of in Lent of 2018 referred to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

          And the wind, the earthquake, the fire – all now referred to inner churnings in my life.

          There had been strong and violent winds, earthquakes, fire even, in my personal and professional life for many years. I had struggled with and through each one, sometimes pulling through, often failing. Each fall went on to generate another set of wild winds, a series of earthquakes, endless fires as I fought fear, tears and frustrations.

          But early this year, I began to sense something had changed in me. Outwardly, I seemed to be the same. Some days I even fooled myself. Yet, it was evident that I was no longer who I was. Although I worked very hard at my job, although the pace was terrible this year, something else held fort within me, holding me back from the edge of the cliff. I knew that something was the December dream which warned of a complete and no-turning-back burnout.

          Suddenly, with that dream, I knew that I could no longer allow any external wind, earthquake or fire to destroy me and my body and my peace of mind. No matter what blew or shifted or raged, I had to take charge.

I had to flee to the hills of my God and my faith.

          And so I did. Many days, it sure didn’t seem like it, but if I forgot one day, I made amends the next day. Slowly, I learned something that has always been so hard for me – saying No, saying Stop. I did it at work. I did it at home too. Sure, that didn’t make some people too happy with me, but they needed to hear it.

         And now with the Covid-19 Movement Control Order in place, today extended by an additional 2 weeks, although I am working from home, I no longer have to contend with the worst of outside winds, earthquakes or fires. A clear break has come.

          Today, on the Feast of the Annunciation, Our Lady came to softly tell me it was time to eradicate, obliterate even the few inner winds, earthquakes or fires which may come to life from time to time as I navigate the roads of fear, worry and tension of this terrible pandemic. She came today to tell me it is time I leaned against Her and the communion of saints who are family to me, in order to fight myself, to fight back against the winds, earthquakes and fires of my emotions and temperaments.

          To still all that breaks, shifts and rages within me.

          Because it is in that ensuing peace and stillness that I will finally hear the small, still sound of my God.

          And with that victory, I will finally lean forever against the Heart of my beloved Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have Chosen You

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          A sweet morning. Tender sunbeams, breath~soft winds tickling boughs and leaves. In a gentle yearning, I return to the hymn of yesterday, God And Man At Table Are Sat Down. The minute I begin to play it, the winds rustle stronger.

          Then, I see the words,

I have chosen you

          And the wind voices rise high.

          My St. Michael sign.

I have chosen you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look At Me, Dearest

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          It has been a busy week at home, but away from work, it’s been very pleasant, the winds in a wild dance each day. As the crossing winds sang and chattered with one another above us, we tended to our dailies.

          Still, a tiny voice in my heart asked, Where is my Christmas joy? The little trickle of joy from a few months back had fallen still. All was quiet within me, the little bells of joy suddenly hidden from my spirit.

          3 days ago, before I slept off, I mentally traced a cross on each of my ears, asking God to speak to me.

          Then, I dreamed.

          On a brightly lit night in town, I was working, heading somewhere, intently pushing my new car. Turning to look back, I saw my children huddled together outside a building, worry in their eyes as they watched me leave them.

          As I pushed my car, I glanced inside at the dashboard screen. I saw the indicators for the various functions.

          And all the indicators showed that the power was dropping and dropping fast. Desperate to complete the job I had to do, I pushed harder, the distance between me and my frightened children increasing.

          Unfortunately, soon, the power in every part of the car depleted and the car came to a dead stop. I desperately tried to restart it but the battery was dead.

          For some reason, I couldn’t just backtrack and return to my kids. I needed to get my job done. Frantically, I calculated how much time I needed to get to wherever it was that I was going and to make the return trip to collect the kids, but I realised it would take far too long. The kids would be all alone and not safe.

          Sobbing, I whipped out my cellphone to call my husband but I knew he was at least 3 hours away. The car was dead. My husband couldn’t get to us in time. And I was too far away from my poor kids. The anguish was too much.

          The dream ended and I awakened, immediately alert, the dream very clear. But although I was upset and sobbing in the dream, I woke up completely calm. Nevertheless, the dream didn’t make sense. It wasn’t like me to neglect the children, to leave them alone and in danger. And why on earth was I pushing the car and not driving it?

          I wanted to dismiss the dream but guilt and fear kept it before me in my waking hours. What if it was pride in myself as a mother making me want to ignore the dream? What if I wasn’t as committed to them and as vigilant as I assumed I was? Maybe it pointed to the future. Maybe I was going to make a work related decision that would ultimately hurt my family.

          Mentally, I vowed to myself that no matter how enticing, I would not accept any promotion or new job offer that would put my family in second place.

          But a caution within me warned me against leaning against my own interpretation of the dream. It was the first Wednesday of the last month of the year, so I hurried to St. Joseph’s door. St. Joseph, I prayed, Discerner of Dreams, tell me what my dream means.

          He didn’t speak immediately but I never left him and continued to pray.

          Late in the evening, standing at my window, contentedly looking out at the bloom blessed garden and listening to the winds chuckle and sing, my dream flashed before me. Then, a quiet voice spoke,

Burnout

          Burnout!! I was stunned! It wasn’t what I expected, and yet … it made immediate sense. The signs were all there. The exhaustion. The mental fog. The slow recovery.

          St. Joseph’s answer had an unexpected effect on me where little else worked. I immediately put the brakes on myself. I slowed down a little. I listened harder to the winds in the trees, trying to make out the words to their song. To enjoy it.

          For 3 days, even as I cared for my family as any wife and mother would, I trained my heart on enjoying them. But another question soon peeked up at me. How long before I return to what I am? How long before I return to that worn road of relentless pressure? To that of guilt, guided by the accusing voices of old which continue to live somewhere near?

         So often, far too often, responsibilities overtake and overwhelm me. But even when they do not crook their finger at me, I’m never far from the workwheel, troubling what doesn’t need to be troubled with.

          Because guilt is always near when I am at rest. Seeking to remind me of who I really am – as others from my past assert over me. And it is those voices that spur me to my feet, telling me that rest is not for me, that whatever others do, I must do more, eschewing help – because I didn’t need that help; I was merely choosing the easy way out.

         That is why, as depicted in the dream, I am pushing a car which others in my place would have driven. In much of my doing, I choose the harder road – and not always because it needs to be so. I do not always accept the help I’m given. Guilt makes that choice for me.

         Guilt hovers close, reminding me that if I chose otherwise, I would not be loved.

         How long before I return to what I am? Not long. For that is a snare that never needs to hide itself. Then the cycle of madness and knocking on heaven’s door seeking for help, resumes. That is life as I know it, as it will always likely be.

         The skies change their robes. The rain clouds gather once more, making their way towards us, and the sun goes into hiding.

         But the winds toss their airy heads and carry on. If anything, the winds frolic more, deep in throes of ecstatic glee. The gathering rain does nothing to hold them back. I hear the winds laugh harder amongst the evergreen boughs, in gay abandon.

         In some newfound joy!

         On this final First Friday of a fast aging year, I return to my promise of atonement and reparation. It is then that I hear the most tender of Voices.

          I hear love. Love as never before.

          And I hear the words,

Look at Me, dearest

 

 

 

 

Wait

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This divine Heart is naught but sweetness, humility and patience, therefore, we must wait. . . He knows when to act.   ~   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          After Sri Lanka, I am straining at the reins. I want to do more than what I am doing. I don’t want our churches bombed. Neither do I want the places of worship of other faiths to suffer the same. For more than 20 years, living here, my family and I have tried to witness to Christ in a way that shows others they have nothing to fear of Jesus – but that even if they will not convert, they can embrace His teachings to love one another and live differently in their faith.

          We’ve emptied ourselves in this giving. It feels as if there is nothing left in our jar of oil.

          But there must be.

         What do You ask of me? What do You ask of me? I tug and tug at God’s hem.

          But He doesn’t answer. Because God never answers an asking that doesn’t listen.

          As I prod and probe, skirmishes within the family begin. Seemingly minor things but still they chaff. A husband’s disbelief in something. A child’s self-centeredness. I continue to work for the family, to be there for them, but the lightness in my heart has gone. And when the hurting  doesn’t let up, the wound deepens. And a silence enters my heart.

          Padre Pio comes by later in the morning. Gently, he reminds me, Don’t allow any sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from acting freely.

          But I cannot pretend the hurt isn’t there. I cannot just jump back into my happy and cheery self.

          It is Divine Mercy Sunday. I place my heart, sadness and all, in the Divine Heart. And I get on with my day, no longer pulling and tugging at God’s hem, but pondering in the silence within.

          It is late afternoon when I seek God’s word. Tell me what to do, I quietly tell Heaven.

          St. Margaret Mary answers for the saints,

This Divine Heart is naught but sweetness, humility and patience, therefore, we must wait. . . He knows when to act.  

 

 

 

Day of the King

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          What joy is this? Wisps of diamonds silvering into my soul, like angels tiptoeing in bearing mystery gifts. What joy is this? Fed by the laughter of children, gentle smiles of husband. Even the sable grey storm clouds chugging across wind~tossed skies come bearing joy in their rainpearl giving. What joy is this that even the tiny purple wildflowers know, passed from beak to beak in the secret, mad  twittering of birds unseen?

          What joy is this? Will the secret whispered in the mystery language of birds and flowers, trees and winds, come to rest on my soul, that I too may share in that knowing?

          My heart smiles at the question, for I am not troubled nor knotted up. I see signs before me which I cannot read, yet I remain at peace, knowing that my knowing is in God’s hands.

          The garden calls to me and I find my seat beneath the purple tiara~ed green boughs of the star~tree. A lone bird comes to rest on a wire. As the warm sun-scented afternoon breezes seek playmates among tree arms above me, the little bird turns his head slightly. It is the emissary, the Kingfisher, come to remind me that the Feast of Christ the King beckons. Indeed we shall celebrate it, for it is the cause of these strange joy~strands that wind through each member of my family, through the very breast of nature in its joyous plumage.

          I busy myself with flowers for the altar vases. The King must have flowers. Looking towards the rose trees that smile gently in the winds that dart about them, I ask, Have you no rose for your King? Faithful have been their pink offerings of cherub~roses in recent weeks. But for the Feast of Christ the King no gift do they hold up for me.

          How could you, I gently reproach them. Nothing for the King on this day foretold to me ten years ago? When I did not believe joy was ever possible again, the Angel had wiped my tears and whispered in my ears, Christ the King! Christ the King! And my sodden heart had thrilled to the promise of joy that would some day be mine again.

          The rose~trees turn away from my displeasure, but not before I see the smile on their leaves. They too know! I think.

          My thoughts placidly wind their way back to the Isaiah verses rested on my eyes that morning ~

Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor, For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the LORD.

For He who has become your husband is your Maker; His name is the LORD of hosts; Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth. 

Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced. The shame of your youth you shall forget, the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember. 

This is for Me like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth; So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. ~  Isaiah 54: 1, 5, 4, 9.

          I placed those verses beside the one given to us for the Day of Stones ~

Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor My covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you. ~  Isaiah 54: 10

          I turn the words of the verses over in my heart. My love shall never leave you. The King has spoken. He has made known His heart, His promise. He now awaits my move forwards. He awaits my trust.

          I trust You, I whisper. I am afraid still. But I trust You, my Jesus. I trust You.

          In Christ I trust.

          Christ the King!

          Christ my King!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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