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Fifteen years ago this morning, humid and cloudy, Two Men and a Truck moved my belongings to my new home, a modest bungalow, ideal for its quiet and neighborly support. Outside my study window flourished an old lilac shrub; it’s still there, in full bloom, its fragrance drawing smiles from dog-walkers.

But the deepest smiles have been my own. Aside from periodic pruning and watering, I’ve contributed little toward the shrub’s survival. Winter-ice encased the buds, snowdrifts weighted the branches, and winds, like whirling dervishes, propelled its root systems into deeper articulation.

Infrequently, though, a freeze shocked the heady blossoms, and then it was over until next year—Brown and spent, they languished and nicked my grief.

With this spring’s frolicking, however, fully rounded lilac buds slowly split with tinges of pale green; then emerged clusters of lavender nubs until warmed into full petalling. It’s happened again, for the sixteenth year.

Such beauty reminds me of the Source, ever recoloring my psyche and companioning my end time that demands even more consciousness. Again, as I look out my study window, I thrill with regal blossoms sweeping the sky. I’m in good hands and always have been.

I used to notice a sparse-haired patient cuddling a baby doll, pressed against her full bosom, her feet swimming in maroon socks crossed in front of her. Around her, sat several generations of family in the front parlor of the nursing home. Sunday after Sunday, they regaled her with stories, despite her vacant look. Only the doll in her arms mattered as she fingered its high-tops.

Indeed, dolls have a long history of companioning. In prehistoric times, considered images of the soul, dolls were used in rituals: the Egyptian doll paddle was one example. Later, archaeologists found dolls made of clay, wood, ivory, or fur, with the remains of entombed children in Egypt, Rome, and Russia. And in ancient Greece, engaged women offered their dolls, in sacrifice, to the nymphs or to the goddess Diana, as they prepared for marriage: an exchange for authentic intimacy.

Closer to our own time, doll makers in fourteenth-century Nuremberg, Germany, fashioned them after real children, monks, and women dressed in the style of the day. Other European countries, especially England, also introduced dolls into their colonies that took fire around the world.

In every culture, little girls clung to their dolls that also fulfilled many psychosocial needs: wordless immediacy soothed inexplicable experiences; imaginations teemed with stories; maternal instincts roused the inner caregiver; hostile living spaces, transformed. Dolls also helped little girls’ transition into sleep and waking.—Even accessing the archetype of the Divine Child, their real life companion.

Again, I return to the sparse-haired patient in the nursing home. For however long she lived, she brought a semblance of who she used to be for her extended family. For them, it was enough.

For the entire night, Jesus of the Gospels supported and comforted me. There are no words…

 

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