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Seems that my long life is like a treasure hunt.

Once I stepped back from significant teachers and took stock of what I found, I began discerning clues about the Sacred in places I ordinarily would not have frequented, specifically my unconscious; its darkness, impenetrable. My loneliness deepened, my discomfort mounted, and questions spliced my resolve. Even more disconcerting were my dreams, like cattle prods urging me forward. With trepidation, one foot scaled that ravine; another trudged through brambles that bloodied my calves. Many dead-ends undermined my resolve to forge ahead, and yet there was no other option. There was always the next clue to discover.

Years passed. This was no child’s game. Annual retreats afforded me respite to consolidate my gains and give thanks to God. But then the struggle began afresh—Still another clue to discover. So what is this treasure that has attracted my being, from earliest memory? Once glimpsed, its allure only compelled more engagement.

Again, I look to the Gospels. Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a hidden treasure buried in a field (Mt. 13). Someone finds it, reburies it, then thrilled by his discovery, sells all he has and buys this field. He must have it. His life depends upon it.

Like the seeker, I cherish this treasure, tucked away in my depths. Lest I become puffed up by this discovery, the apostle Paul likens my humanness to an earthenware vessel (II Cor. 4:7), ordinary, and in time, cracks apart when no longer needed.

So the treasure hunt continues—My self-emptying also continues.

Seems to me that words have emotional lives: some retain their vibrancy; others, relegated to bone piles. That’s where revision is critical, because serious readers look for depth that resonates or challenges the human condition—at least that was what I thought until I came across the word, praise, depleted in my perception.

Yet, it appeared on the dedicatory page of Mary Oliver’s book of poems, Why I Wake Early (2004): “Lord! Who hath praise enough?” a line taken from “Providence,”composed by the priest-poet George Herbert in seventeenth-century England. Through relishing Oliver’s poems drawn from her Provincetown morning walks, I awoke to the wordlessness of praise: more an attitude toward the unfolding of creation in pristine moments than windy definition.

In Oliver’s artistic process, I sense praise empowered her co-creation with God who disciplined her senses, helped her search for apt words, then clothed revelations with simple, often one-syllable words; their explosive energy still jars her listeners, readers, and decades of fledgling writers who have sat in her classes and workshops.

Her poem, “Snow Geese”, describes such an experience: the flock, “being the color of snow, catching the sun,” their rapid flight leaving her bereft with painful/delightful longing. She concludes: “What matters/is that, when I saw them, /I saw them/as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.”

Another poem, “Look and See” concludes with heart-prayer: “Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we only look and see.”—After having been regaled by a gull’s pink foot casually scratching its stomach of white feathers as it sailed overhead.

Such gifts are always offered and elicit praise within the openhearted—but as George Herbert says, there’s never enough…

At 7:45 A.M., I woke with this significant dream:

I’m invited to attend the reunion of my high school class from Villa Duchesne. It will be held on a garden patio. It is balmy moonless evening, pitch-dark when I arrive. Animated voices surround me as I find a place and sit down. I notice the cloth-covered tables are small, round, only accommodating three guests. Across from me, I hear JoAnne share a funny story. Then, waiters set narrow platters of delectable foods among us from which we eat.

I ask my Dreamer’s help in working with this dream story, its pitch-dark setting filled with connotations of death: my deceased classmates, the moonless night bereft of orientation and relatedness.

A solitary, I had little in common with my peers when growing up, other than sitting in the same classrooms, occasionally attending reunions hosted by the school. Later, however, I learned to honor our differences and esteem them for the women they had become. That awareness launched occasional potlucks in my home, filled with animation similar to that in the dream. In subsequent years, however, deaths thinned our meetings until they stopped altogether.

Again, in the dream I hear the laughter of my classmates as if cramped in my living room, their bracelets jangling on their wrists while emphasizing a point. I’m perplexed that I do not see them, but I remember JoAnne’s facial expression,still among us, as she regales her listeners. In Jungian terms, she suggests my extraverted shadow, with its discipline of deepening communication with my caregivers as my symptoms change.

This dream, one of a kind, mirrors the shaping up of my end time, tinged with joy. I’ve only to participate, one day at a time, letting HP do for me what I cannot do for myself. (From the Promises in AA’s Big Book)

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