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At 5 A.M., I woke to this curious dream:

I’m healthy, enthused by my entrance into an ancient monastery located in a mountainous region surrounded by virgin forests. I’m wearing the long brown homespun robe and belt of the monks as I follow them toward an open meadow for a meeting with the Abbott. Everyone receives a paper, printed in green that outlines today’s activities including the reminder to sign up for the Covid vaccine.

In the dream, I’m very fit, eager to participate in my new lifestyle among hundreds of monks in this ancient monastery, symbol of enclosure with the Sacred. With them, I expect to practice balanced disciplines of prayer, study, and work, within the rule of silence. Further engaging my whole spirit is the natural beauty of this setting: varied snow-covered peaks, scented pines, wild flowers, and birds songs, and so much more.

That I am the only woman, garbed in the long brown homespun robe and belt of the monks, seems to make no difference to this large community. It never occurred me to request more feminine attire; the robe I was given scratches my shoulders.

In the dream, I do not see the Abbott, but feel his presence through the paper, printed in green, with his directives: The Covid vaccine gives me pause.

The dream’s intent eludes me, given my return to health. On the one hand, there’s my enthusiastic response to this new way of living; on the other, its patriarchal underpinnings—their rules of silence and orders of day—do little to enhance my relationships with the Sacred and others.

Despite increased symptoms, perhaps I’m not to let go of my writing altogether.

From the side of the solitary crocus in my flowerbed another gleams in the sun, cheered by fresh greening—More winking from Creator God.

“Hey, Tracy, I’ve changed my mind about the cocktail. It might help,” I said into the baby monitor tied to the head of my bed. Behind me, blinds filtered the porch light around my bed, the comforter tossed aside. In no time, flip-flops patterned the hardwood floor and my helper appeared by my bed. I continued. “I thought I’d be okay with my nebulizer treatment, the deep breathing exercises, and my oxygen, but not tonight. I need help.”

My long history of having taken ineffective drugs for rheumatoid arthritis quelled their further taking after 1997. Until last November, I had managed well enough with supplements, diet, and exercise. Then, the diagnosis of my terminal illness qualified me for hospice and their use of palliative drugs. And last night I needed the cocktail—low doses of Lorazapan and morphine—to relax and help me breath.

With deft hands, Tracy emptied the prefilled syringes into my mouth and helped settle me in bed before turning out the light, not leaving without our hug.

Within the warmth of my comforter, I awaited the mellow rush of the cocktail, evidence of its soothing presence and forerunner of sleep’s oblivion, which I had experienced four other times, but nothing was happening. My body remained tense as I watched quarter-hours pass.

Weary as the wife of the Patriarch Methuselah, I parked against the side of my bed and began deep breathing and rocking. Eventually, I stopped counting repetitions—only my body knew how many.

Enough, I heard, then climbed into bed before wrapped within oblivion’s mantel.

Seven hours later I awoke to the aroma of quinoa that Tracy was cooking for my breakfast. Another day of new learning opened before me.

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