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Two startling dreams roused me during the pre-dawn hours:

My brother Mark asked my help in removing thousands of silver needles and straight pins from a magnificent display of unique fabrics that commanded rave reviews, worldwide. The venue for this artwork was at the St. Louis Cathedral.

Sleep returned immediately, only to have the following dream surface the next hour:

Many crowd a playing field on a sunny afternoon. Suddenly, the loud speaker system clicks on, and a warning voice announces: “If by 3 P.M., tomorrow, letters, T, O, M and Ed Buegge have not stopped drinking, they will die.” At least the announcer did not disclose the anonymity of my brother, I muse to myself.

Remembering that dream stories are replete with symbols and hidden in the unconscious, I had much to work with, their terror firing me for several hours afterwards.

To deal with these lessons, I prayed, with the psalmist: “Unless the Lord build the house, in vain do the laborers build it.” In my perception, dream work constitutes co-creating with God. He is the Master Builder.

The symbol of thousands of silver needles and straight pins in the first dream has multiple associations: their sharpness and invisibility, their impermanence in holding things together, their potential to inflict pain. Others’ perception of my well-defined character is fleeting, at best: a cover for multiple disorders still lodged in the darkness of my psyche. My brother Mark, already in the next life, invites me to explore this stinking morass with God, so as to remove it, before my own transition.

In the second dream, the announcer’s warning caught me unawares, so lulled I was by the afternoon sun and camaraderie of the participants on the playing field. Only after he clicked off the microphone did the full import of his words strike me with dread: alcoholism, our family disease, and death.

For generations, I’ve Twelve-Stepped my alcoholism and grasped its lethal nature, also evidenced at funerals and memorials. But the felt presence of death in my psyche is a first.

For years, studies of death have attracted me: its multiple expressions found in the work of psychologists and theologians, even authors and musicians. In blogging this subject, I’ve grown. But much of this buzzing about has not touched the core of my death, until this morning’s dream.

I’m grateful to having been so nudged, but more will be revealed. I’ve only to surrender and participate. This is working out…

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, so addressed the poet/musician Paul McCartney to this harbinger of spring, with its rich flute-like trills. Then, he unleashed his response to police forcibly removing a black woman from the white section of a New York restaurant in 1968. Moving back from his hotel window across the street, he continued writing.

A close look at the words chosen for this song-poem evidenced Paul’s artistry: This was not your usual blackbird; in the UK, the words bird and girl were used interchangeably, so the victim in the fracas morphed into blackbird whose spirit sang, no matter the violence fraught with death. Years of such bludgeoning no longer mattered and spawned more protest marches.

Only visionaries intuit patterns for critical change, and McCartney’s revolutionary paradoxes sought to fulfill this purpose:

Take these broken wings and learn to fly.

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.

The mandate to receive these gifts, despite their uselessness, and learn different ways of empowerment and vision was clear. Precisely in their woundedness, they would find healing, through their imaginations. It would be their experience.

Indeed,

All your life/you were only waiting for this moment to come.

That moment has come and gone. Not much has changed, or so it seems. Ensuing betrayals and tribulations have scarred hearts, that is true, but more learning to fly and see continue among us.

And the mandate still holds:  

Blackbird fly/ Into the light of the dark black of night.

Within that paradox, LIFE abounds … and always has.

It seems that monuments honoring notables with charismatic gifts leave larger-than-life impressions upon viewers. Such is the experience studying photos of the thirty-foot sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr., commissioned by the Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin and erected at the West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This was in 2011.

King’s star flamed with his nationwide support of the Montgomery bus boycott, in 1963, but sputtered with his blood-stained shirt on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968. For fifteen years, his biblical passion interfaced with racial segregation, poverty, human rights violations, and the Vietnam war—enhanced by his bass voice trained in oratory. Thousands joined sit-ins, marches, even suffered killings, burnings, beatings, and imprisonment. Deep was the hope for peace that swept our country.

Most remember pieces of King’s story, influencing the nightly news during those years.

But what did happen? In my perception, the MLK sculpture suggests a clue. Standing erect in suit and tie, his eyes piercing off into the future, his arms folded, his right hand clutching a sheaf of papers, he seems bound to the stone from which he was chiseled, his lower legs, unfinished. Seen from behind, the stone also casts a shadow; in the analytical psychology of Dr. C. G. Jung, the shadow symbolizes the undesirable aspects of our unconsciousness. That Dr. King was not immune to such aberrations is obvious. He had his enemies.

And grief spilled upon cracked sidewalks, just beginning to flower that April evening.

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