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October’s whispers, subtle and unobtrusive, drop clues of gardens’ metamorphosis: drooping purple cone flowers having had too much sun; sagging lamb’s ears losing their springiness; yellowing edges of hostas collapsing on the ground; browning of once lavender sedum blooms sagging over ceramic pots; black-eyed susans and sunflowers bereft of seeded centers; sparse knockout roses clinging to nearly-bare branches; and clumps of yellow and white mums boasting hardiness into November. Annuals have already been dug up, their colors having brightened passersby.

Upon these same whispers also float changes in shrubs: red berries cresting drooping dogwood leaves, yellowness creeping up forsythia branches, gray-greenness puckering lilac leaves, blushing berries clustering on branches of Christmas hollys, evergreens spitting pine cones on walkways, London plane tree’s bark hardening before the onset of winter’s thievery, lackluster leaves on viburnums grieving the approaching cold, and so much more.

Such perennials have to die, but with proper care return each spring. 

And with these changes also appear boisterous Jack-o-lanterns, gourds of yellows, oranges, whites, and greens, ornamental cauliflower heads, broomstick-riding witches, ghosts, skeletons, werewolves—prelude to Halloween’s deepening darkness and meditation, if so moved.

Whether it’s October’s whispers or shrieks, we’re invited to take stock of this strange beauty and listen. No October is like any other.

At midnight, this dream startled me:

A festive mood circulates among well-wishers, dressed to the nines, seated upon white folding chairs in a large clearing encircled by virgin pines. Beneath a brilliant sun the wedding party make last minute adjustments to their floral gowns, tweak daisies and yellow coneflowers in their bouquets while sharing stories of the couple. Near the tulle-decked canopy stands the minister who reviews the readings for the ceremony. Suddenly, like a summer squall, a pall douses the guests—the bride has died.

 This dream mirrors extremes in my psyche: vibrant health and death. Such information corresponds to my hospice experience, the richest period in my life.

Despite occasional symptoms that unnerve me, vibrancy of spirit permeates my diseased eighty-four-old-body with fresh élan. Each day’s adventure increases the aching for ultimate communion (the wedding) that awaits me. I am ready, but as in the dream story, I’ve still more dying to experience: The skid marks of self-absorption and rage, imprinted upon my psyche by a lifetime of chronic pain and illness must be addressed.

As in the dream, harmony evidences the Sacred-in-our-midst: the bright spirits of my helpers, the camaraderie of CPA recovery, the greening outside my study windows, the laughter of helmeted kids on scooters pumping along sidewalks—Above all, those moments of cherishing the hidden treasure in the field that Jesus talks about.

As also in the dream, summer’s riotous colors play upon my imagination, jostle words into figures of speech for use in my writing. Even yesterday’s squall refreshes my spirit.

Such dreams afford significant guidance and companion my nights/days as I move through end time, with its grace-in the-moment.

 

Drizzle hiccoughs through lowering clouds that resemble circus elephants at play.

Occasional splats on my slicker intrude upon the stillness and quicken my breathing. Languid breezes muss my hair, and my nose twitches with smells of musk. Alive to the freshness around me, I pause.

A solitary crow caws, as it flaps its wings against the leaden sky and soars to the upper reaches of an evergreen. Ahead of me, the slick asphalt road snakes around the bend, lined with a grove of yellow bamboo. Heaps of luminous leaves by the curb, their stems upended, smack of exhausted gymnasts after a tournament. A few whole acorns, unlike others crunched by passing cars, draw the toe of my sandal.

I resume walking, slowly—So much to take in—In the distance looms a mustard- yellow maple; from its brown-to-black-divided trunk articulate mothering branches that offer more inspiration, more protection—Droplets hug shriveled leaves of shrubs—A calico cat darts for cover in a nearby yard—Glistening jack-o-lanterns grin from front porches, and spent chrysanthemums brown and list sideways in gardens.

In every cell of my being subtle rhythms resonate: within them, I surrender, anew, to the multiple changes occurring within and around me. I give thanks.

 

 

 

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