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In memory, I return to the first morning of my arrival at East Gloucester, Massachusetts, stretch into the bleached lawn chair next to the ocean, and open my citified world to nature’s expansive healing. Desperate is my need for watering.

October’s brilliance caps hesitant waves with opulence that lap against the base of the monolithic Brace Rock; it resembles a dusky pachyderm snoozing in the morning heat, its humps whitened by decades of excrement. Against luminous skies, crowds of herring gulls honk into fly-space, while others pump their wings, catch columns of wind, gliding in somersaults and pinwheels. Like cobra helicopters, twin ravens pan the boulder-strewn shore until they vanish.

I breathe deeply in my chair, then notice surf-bubbles skittering among handfuls of sandpipers, toeing the grainy sand like princesses. Upon stringy brackish seaweed, mosquitoes crowd like irritable shoppers in check-out lines.

Nearby, splashy quilts of wild grasses, golden rod, and sumac enliven miles of bronzed granite rocks along the coast. A solitary honeybee suns upon the breast of a goldenrod spear. A rare Monarch butterfly collapses its circus wings and alights on the fringed tip of purple loose strife.

A cobalt sky smiles upon this riotous foreplay. Time hangs suspended upon boney and gossamer wings. Within this jeweled kaleidoscope, an unseen power reveals her Soul and invites surrender.

Again, it has been done. I’m washed, clean.

Around 6 A.M., I woke with two encouraging dreams:

I’m tall, strong, sun-tanned, and wearing a cantaloupe-colored dress with a slightly darker A-line coat. I’m alone, content as I watch for what happens next.

I visit the Jesuit staff at their Gloucester, Massachusetts retreat house. After supper that evening, we sit around telling stories laced with boisterous humor. I laugh so hard my jaw aches, and my eyes glisten.

Both dreams reveal wellness in my psych, despite chronic symptoms slowing down my body. Never have I looked so beautiful as in the first dream, my body perfectly proportioned, the cantaloupe colors of my attire enhancing my complexion and brunette wavy hair. I appear patient, which is not always the case in my conscious world. When not surrendered to my habitual slowness, anger flares like a book of matches and engulfs me in more distress until I wake up to the marauder.

The Jesuit staff in the second dream suggests the camaraderie of the masculine principle in my psyche: energized, loving, humorous, unhampered, attentive—each supportive of my conscious efforts to deal with my terminal illness, despite occasional pitfalls of grief. Such a gift uplifts my spirits for yet another twenty-four hours.

The image of the retreat house in my psyche suggests an enclosure with ceaseless prayer; that of the supper, our having participated in some kind of communion service—the Mass, perhaps.

The élan from these dreams thrusts me back to that sacred place, Eastern Point Retreat House, integral for my on-going spiritual development since 1984.

I still long to sit beside the Atlantic and study its movements. My Dreamer knows …

At 3:30 A.M., three glimpses into my psyche woke me: Christmas, Jane Schaberg, and ghettos. I had no recall of the dream story associated with these images, but chose to work with them.

Christmas, not in the sense of holidays with parties, gifts, and family gatherings, has always evoked rich associations with the Sacred, recognized and revered as a child. The Son-of-God-made-Man has companioned my efforts to incarnate in this existence, given my reluctance, from the womb, to do so. Gospel teachings, hidden within Twelve Step living, have opened me further to my humanness and still contributes to “the joy of living,” the result of practicing Step Twelve. When my end time comes, I will have substantive gifts to surrender to the Sacred. Today’s Christmas heartens me deeply.

My surprise in seeing Jane Schaberg (1938 – 2012) in my psyche also stirred me. I still remember her astounding insight of loving God with her whole mind, a passion that led her to advanced theological studies and worldwide attention for her biblical articles and books, all the while teaching at Detroit-Mercy University. I still hear the roar of her laughter as I write these lines. Another companion to help me along …

And ghettos, the third image that visited me in my dream—For decades, my work with home care elderly patients exposed me with ghetto living in New Orleans, Houston, and St. Louis where I had lived. From these spirits seasoned by poverty, poor health, backbreaking work, and other hardships, I leaned about acceptance, humility, and faith in God. Yet, my learning is far from finished as my impoverishment still rankles. This is working out …

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