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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.

At 7:10 A. M., I awoke with this dream of laughter:

I have joined a small mixed group of retreatants for a weekend of prayer and meditation in the forest, the sounds of the river, nearby, humming with frogs, insects, and badgers. One of the women cannot contain her laughter most of the time we are together; at any moment her blue eyes giggle, her toothy grin sets off anyone near her, even the director. It is now Sunday evening and the time for departure has come. No one wants to leave here.

In the dream the small mixed group of retreatants recalls my annual Gloucester retreat; though silent, its camaraderie warmed everyone’s spirits, with our sinfulness dissolved in recognition of our foolishness and lightened by tears and laughter.

The forest, the dream’s setting, suggests an unknown place filled with challenges that scour the insides of honesty. Change is demanded. No one frequents such a place without being forewarned of its dangers. And the river is critical for deep psychic cleansing.

One of the women sets the tone for this retreat, like none I’ve ever attended. Her perspective on life differs from those around her, and from her depths emanates an authority supporting her sense of humor and inviting participation. So compelling her range of light-some sounds that no one can long resist. Initial hesitancy crumbles like week-old cake with discolored icing. Hearts, long moth-balled in dank attics, expand and dress in the new clothing of relationships. What was a prickly group has become a community with meaningful ties, ribboned with colorful laughter of many tones. No one wants to leave here.

My takeaway from this dream is to excavate my humor, long buried beneath the woes of transition work. I’m not the only human being ever to lose her body.

At 5:30 A.M., I awoke to this joyous dream:

It is night. My god-daughter invited me to her home for a celebration. Not sure of the occasion, I went, having experienced many festivities with her family, her extended family and friends from her community. The usual warm glow, tables filled with sumptuous fare, children of all ages with their toys, and scintillating conversations fill the rooms. No one is excluded. But this occasion is different. My god-daughter is different. Usually a spirited woman, her buoyant laughter is more resonant than ever before. Her presence affords a charisma that everyone notices.

Night, again, speaks to the end of life. Time is of the essence, and unresolved issues must be settled. Each moment contains a cue for action toward even deeper acceptance of reality and humility and the elimination of denial and idealization.

Home suggests an enclosure in which I’ve interacted with countless people in my life, not always happily. True, forgiveness has balmed relationships, but the harsh judge, within—especially toward myself—still spews nastiness whenever triggered.

In Jungian terms, my god-daughter represents aspects of my positive animus: the innocent, the scholar, the caregiver, the beloved, and the explorer, in various stages of development.

Her vibrant energy empowers me to continue my end-time work and not lose heart. I’m grateful.

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