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At 7:10 A. M., I woke with this corrective dream:

A senior myself, I decide to move into a Jewish apartment complex, shabby in appearance, its property split by the rails of the Metrolink. In the lounge, the mixed residents share hilarious stories and games: among them, the mating game that requires participants to identify their mates using other names. I decide to join them. After I mastered several tasks, I discovered my mate, elderly, smiling, and wearing steel spectacles. I’m overwhelmed but know I’ll adjust in time.

In the dream, I am elderly, but healthy, as I make decisions that reflect behaviors foreign to my present values—evidence of little-to-no forethought. Something else must be going on.

The Jewish apartment complex…its property split by the rails of the Metrolink suggests a noisy, congested living space that aptly describes my self-generated distractions. The split, a wound of sorts in my psyche, prevents deep listening in prayer; it keeps me rigidly attached to my daily routine lest I lose ground and cave in to the active process of dying that will complete my transition—thus my need to control this process rather than surrender it to Precious God.

And the playful mixed residents, appropriate under other circumstances, increase my anxiety, deepen my longing for solitude, and exacerbate my pretense of game-playing. I certainly don’t need a mate, of any age.

Like angry flood waters barreling me where I have no need to go, my instincts have had their heyday with me. Such is the dream’s message and cry for more practice of Step XI: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve out conscious contact with God as we understand him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.

Outside my study window, a robin alighted upon the still wintry appearance of a branch, caught by April’s tag with the sun, then was gone. Unlike signs of other leafing shrubs, this one feels shivery with indecision, its scraggy impression resembling a cluttered attic. Yet, upon closer inspection, a few small slender buds point toward the sky; the color, still to come.

The experience reminds me of Isaiah’s prophecy:

Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?

Intended for exiled Israelites under the Babylonians, soon to be freed in 539 BCE, the text still carries fresh power. The new thing fires the imagination and excites creativity, looks beyond the humdrum, and inhales vistas yet to be explored. But the even greater challenge is to recognize the new thing when it comes.

Memories of missed invitations rankle, with their failure of nerve, too absorbed in my psyche to take the necessary actions. In preferring my will, I scraped depression’s depths rather than internalize the gift proffered. And only within the gentle discipline of AA, years later, did I begin to watch for the telltale signs of new growth.

About that same time, the season of spring began to remind me of Creator God and His color-making power in ever-expanding universes—even now, in this eighty-six-year-old cypher.

Soon, the robin’s perch in the summer snowflake viburnum will assume the shape of a lacy gown—the seventh year of its flowering outside my study window. I give thanks, with gusto.

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