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Salt sprinkles upon summer’s vegetables, steamed just right, pleasure my taste buds and prompts taking more forkfuls until satisfied. Without salt, blandness settles upon my tongue like crud, shrinks hunger, and diminishes satiety. Indeed, salt seems to enhance foods like symphony conductors, their musicians—The end result satisfies, deeply.

Toward this fulfillment many yearn today, given the multi-faceted impoverishment that cripples psyches, that discounts the spiritual, however expressed. Such evil mirrors the mythological Hydra, a gigantic water-snake-like monster with nine heads, one of which was immortal. In ancient Greece as well as today, such monsters spew unbridled terror resulting in cookie-cutter posturing in boardrooms, courts of law, churches, and universities. Change is suspect and frowned upon.

In view of this deplorable situation, how retain salty spirits? How access humor still lodged in our depths? How inhale winds of harmony, of shimmering colors, of nature’s imprints? I ask myself these questions, daily.
Of necessity, I watch Jesus in the Gospels salt his followers with counter-cultural behaviors: There is blessedness in being poor in spirit, in being meek, mournful, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, open to suffering, and hungering for what is right—all reversals of wayward instincts on rampage for power, prestige, and sexual aberrations.

Jesus says further, Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.

Thus a fresh discipline emerges from within that lightens our steps, no longer trudging to the tin-horn band tooting nonsense. Boldly, we step out of line for a different path that works and follow it with the like-minded. It works.

 

At 3:15 a.m., I awoke with this dream:

It is summer, a Sunday afternoon. I’m excited. With a friend, I drive out to Glen Echo Country Club in Normandy, Missouri. It’s been decades since I was last there. I look forward to swimming in the blue and white tile pool surround by towering oaks, manicured lawns. We pull into the empty parking lot and hurry around to the back of the clubhouse. Then, stop in our tracks, appalled. Where the pool was now gapes a monstrous hole, filled with fetid waters that belch, then spew streams high into the air. No one is around.

 This corrective dream reveals old issues, all Step-worked but still entrenched within my psyche: entitlement and expectations and bogus watering holes.

Glen Echo Country Club, still an elite setting for golf, dining, weddings and receptions were even more so when I was growing up. Dad’s membership afforded me summers lounging around the pool, in pursuit of the impeccable coat of tan, despite fair skin. Within this setting staffed by waiters and maids, I lapped up entitlement as everyone else did. Only when I joined AA did I see its prominence among the many faces of pride. In no way could I be in relationships, even with Higher Power. So puffed up, I was playing god—and, at times, I still am…

And expectations—in the dream, I expected the swimming pool to be unchanged from the time I had known it, there being no need to check it out. Excitement, another red flag, skewed my judgment. Only in recovery did I unmask this disorder, another manifestation of pride/control, still alive and flourishing in my shadowy depths.

And the bogus watering holes—In the dream, fetid waters gave me considerable pause, its filth evoking shudders, its secretiveness horrifying. Despite decades of honing discernment skills, I can still be hoodwinked by evil within gossamer disguises, or so the dream suggests, by my trip to Glen Echo. I had no business there. Only Higher Power can cleanse such lifelong disorders within my psyche.

With the Psalmist, I plead, Create, O God, a clean heart within me. (51:10).

 

 

It was 1965, Holy Thursday evening at the Motherhouse in Rome, Italy.

I pressed my back against the straight chair, one of twelve lining the fringed edge of the Oriental rug covering the marble floor, then stole glances around the great parlor, transformed into a sanctuary for this evening’s ritual. Candelabra of beeswax candles cast shadows upon twenty-foot ceilings. Across from me stood a white-draped lectern, the Mass book opened to the gospel of John. Next to it was a table with white towels, a china basin and pitchers of water. Raised platforms held cloisonné urns filled with flaming gladiolas and bridle wreath that perfumed the air.

Behind me, footfalls of nuns formed concentric rows, their Libers in hand, some clearing throats, sneezing.

All was ready, but was I?

From an opposite door emerged the Superior General of our community and her counselors. In no time were the opening prayer and reading from John’s gospel read. A long pause followed. Like Jesus that night centuries ago, the stooped Superior General girded herself with a long towel and prepared to wash my feet and those of the other probanists sitting with me. She nodded to her counselors, then approached the first “disciple.” Strains of the chant Ubi caritas carried the profundity of this event as the washing began. I shuddered.

Then, it was my turn. I lifted the hem of my black habit and extended my bare foot over the basin held by one of the counselors. Water trickled over my instep, followed by its wiping, followed by the Superior General’s kiss.

It was over, the lesson learned, my body chilled with perspiration.

Throughout my life, other washings/purifications have offered correction, encouragement, forgiveness, and courage from which I‘ve emerged with élan. Yet, my end time’s psychic washing contains more shadow stuff to process: there seems no end of it—I’ll keep surrendering to the washing.

 

 

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