A solitary cardinal alighted on the plank fence in my back yard, its redness quickening my heart. Then, it whizzed down upon the bleached grass, its dark eyes searching from side to side. Like a wise professor attired in the scarlet robes of a theologian, it discerned the next step before taking it boldly; then, more angular steps. Then, it was gone. I blinked, hard.

Stillness enveloped me. I had been visited and I knew it. Rather than resume my work in the kitchen, I savored this intrusion.

The cardinal’s fiery presence recalled images of Christ Pantocrator (the Lawgiver), rendered in mosaics or frescoes, which adorn domes and apses of medieval Eastern Orthodox churches. The dark outlines of Christ’s iconic eyes, his red tunic, his left hand holding the jeweled book of the New Testament, his right hand raised in blessing—Such was the demonstrable power that had inflamed centuries of imaginations of worshipers, huddled in the nave below, whispering their prayers.

Such still has the holding power to thwart evil, with its allure of dark power. Willingness to follow the Pantocrator’s sway freshens us with loving care and protection.

After a full night’s sleep, I awoke at 7:30 A.M. with this dream:

Inside a darkened theater filled to capacity, I sit alone and watch a musical. From the orchestra pit, musicians play catchy tunes to accompany the songs and dance steps of children, dressed in red-and-white striped bodysuits. They execute clever routines upon a wide set of stairs on center stage.

This dream reveals lively energy in my psyche. The darkened theater suggests a venue of playfulness that diminishes harsh lines of reality and activates imaginations. Identification with the performers opens cramped worlds, often, strangers to the hilarity of play, as is my case.

Again, I am alone, my former practice of attending the theater and other artistic events. Having a companion watered down the impact of the experience for which my psyche yearned. So desperate I was for nurturing, for new learning, for enlargement of my world. Following such experiences, my musings were rich, especially if they were derived from musicals, on stage or films; they seeded my loneliness with elan for a short while.

In the orchestra pit, an unseen director, Precious God in disguise, coordinates the musicians, also unseen, and the dancers: their red-and-white striped bodysuits blur pinkish as they traipse up and down the stairs, just for the fun of it. At least, it looks that way.

This dream feels like a teaser: its invitation to explore my own playfulness, to open out my laughter, long buried beneath fears of physical diminishment. Such is critical for the full development of my humanness, a Godly dimension.

I do have a new helper, though.

The simplicity of this photo touches me: three pears, one attached to its leafy branch, one sitting on its bottom, and one sliced open, revealing its seeds and the creamy white of its fruit. Next to it lays the wood-handled knife on a plank table. A close look at the photo’s composition reveals its artistry and significance.

Featured within are four items, the number for wholeness, for balance that frames the viewer’s experience—a grounding that compels its evolution, accompanied by warm inner stirrings.

Next comes the selection of color: the yellows, dull and limish; the browns, dark and rustic; the greens, pointed and jaded; and the whites, luminous and milky. Subtle shadows set off the pears and spark desire to touch their coarse skins, to experience their sweetness.

Their stems resemble cut umbilical cords, its fruits, now on their own.  

Sharp angles contrast with roundness for added drama. The worn appearance of the knife and table suggest seasoned hands that know foods, their preparation, and presentation.

So much for my impressions of this photo.

It also speaks to my present circumstances. The first pear suggests my having been cut off from the tree of health; the second, my ripening; and the third, the cutting/transition and full revelation of my sweetness.

For the present, my ripening morphs into simplicity and I’m grateful…

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