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At 3:30 A.M., I awoke with this peaceful dream:

I’m working in a large city with countless others, all in a spirit of harmony and peace. Nowhere is there ill will or discord.

What is unusual about this dream is that it continued throughout the night. I’m glad to have receive it.

In robust health, I’m working, totally involved, energized by multiple projects that enlarge my knowledge of life. I’m delighted to be participating and never tire. Countless others surround me from whom I also learn; and they, from me.

The large city suggests the realm of Twelve Step Recovery, where a minority engage in conscious living that involves selfless care for one another, even through chronic pain and illness unto death. Care for the environment also flows from this awareness of the living God within and in our midst, evidenced by the spirit of harmony and peace. Key to this on-going recovery are the practice of faith, emotional honesty, and willingness.

Another association with the large city is St. Augustine’s philosophic treatise City of God (413-466 CE) in which the believers bolster themselves from malicious attacks by the unbelievers of the Earthly City, a conflict that will continue until the end of time.

In view of our present global conflagration, good versus evil, it’s imperative not to lose hope. Another Power is at work who has brought others through similar perils. Lean into It and do the next right thing, with grace. It’s working out …

And God is always there; if you feel wounded.

He kneels over this earth like a divine medic, and His love thaws out the holy in us.

So concludes the poem, When the Holy Thaws, composed by Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) Spanish mystic, reformer of the Carmelite Order, and author of contemplative prayer and practices.

This many centuries later, I wonder of this consoling poem reflects one of her visions with which she was gifted during her life. She knew the wounds, inflicted upon her by ecclesiastical authorities and her own nuns for the reforms she implemented among them—even founded seven monasteries for the observance of the new rule of life. She, too, given her frail health, needed solace and experienced the kneeling God as divine medic.

In my perception nothing much has really changed—only more darkness and disease have distorted our planet from its God-given path.

It’s helpful to return, in prayer, to the gift of these inspired words and let His love thaw out the holy in us. For the holy is properly our birthright and our deepest joy, even in the midst of calamities.

It is a serious thing

just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in this broken world.

from Red Bird (2009), by Mary Oliver

Such words zing rhythms within creek bottoms, ooze exhilaration into hidden recesses of psyche, trickle down arroyos, and imprint joy upon freckled noses. Such has been my experience reading Mary Oliver’s poetry over the years.

Of special significance are these poetic words from Red Bird in the wake of last night’s absence of dreams. The dark has never been so dark. Within its grip, I felt throttled, locked within a turnabout, tumbled about in a washing machine—there was no surcease as hours limped across the face of the clock in my bedroom. Nor did exercises impinge upon the madness. Nor did prayer to Whomever, Whatever. Dry eye precluded reading. Only dawn’s whispers broke the spell and released me within exhaustion that clung like the virgin’s bower vine, sweetening fences, trellises.

Such agitation bespeaks of grief, a first for me, and leaves me with questions: Is it appropriate to dull such a trouncing with Haldol or go without and experience the lessons, therein? And what were those lessons? Certainly my powerlessness was paramount—It’s one thing to speak of it, even write about it, but another to experience it in the marrow of my bones.

Could this be the first of other thrashings, still to come, before my transition?

Yet, in this morning’s dawn my aliveness thrums. True, my old body and the world are broken, but no matter. There will be healing as Mary Oliver intuits in her poem: it just has to be held to our hearts—Song happens.

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