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Around 4 A.M., I awoke with this loud dream:

It was 1429, a sun-filled afternoon in the town square at Orleans, France, resounding with jubilant hoots of victory. The French army, under the command of Joan of Arc, had just defeated the British and restored the Dauphin to his rightful place on the throne. She looked stunning, armored, and astride her white horse, her victory more of God’s work than her own.

The deafening noise of the dream hurt so much that I scrambled awake to the quiet of my bedroom where I sat up and caught my bearings. In 1977, I had spent an afternoon in the Old City, at Orleans, France, marveled at the equestrian statue of the Maid of Orleans, but it had little resemblance to the dream’s image.

The Joan of Arc in my psyche heartens me—yet another spirit guide to lead me through the pitfalls of my terminal illness, at times like a pus-filled enemy beset with fears and setbacks. The British enemies Joan contended with pale in comparison.

Indeed, in my depths wage intermittent 24/7 wars. Vigilance to prevent these intrusions from scabbing old wounds augments my chronic exhaustion and weakness. Each day’s challenge is to remain steadfast in faith to Creator God who has companioned me for over eighty-five years. That’s a long time to be around, I often tell Him.

Back lit translucent white lit candle with melting wax

At 6:30 A.M., I awoke with this inspiring dream:

A restorative expert invited me to join a mixed group of artists to work with him on an ancient Gothic chapel, fallen in disrepair and almost obscured by the surrounding virgin forest. He provided the necessary scaffolding, tools, the paints and shellac. Tedious work followed on the frescoes and mosaics that had adorned the walls, ceiling, and arches. Imperceptibly, the original Christian motifs s began to reappear and told a different story from the one we were painstakingly removing.

This glimpse into my psyche heartened me. Like the ancient Gothic chapel, fallen in disrepair and almost obscured by the surrounding virgin forest, my spirit-house has grown old, encrusted with scum, distressed. Yet, someone has noticed: A restorative expert, God in disguise, engages a mixed group of artists, symbolic of balanced energies to spruce up the centering room in my psyche as I deepen my end-of life work.

He also provides the necessary scaffolding, tools, the paints and shellac that suggest the sixteen helpful practices in CPA’s Tool Box: meditation, literature, meetings and phone contacts with members, journaling, etc.—all critical for scraping the dross from my spiritual faculties to allow the full emergence of my authentic story. This is a daily task, with no time offs. Setbacks still occur, but,  “Oh well!”—I just begin again until the next one.

“Here, I brought this for you to wear. It’s cozy and warm—One of our volunteers made it for our patients. They’re always doing such nice things for us,” said Christina, the CNA assigned to me for the night. Then, she handed me a white flannel gown with prints of small red cardinals perched upon bare branches.

Because last Friday night’s storm had knocked out the electrical power in my home, its restoration being uncertain, I obtained a respite bed at Evelyn’s House, the BJC freestanding hospice facility where I availed myself of their oxygen and nebulizer treatments for my lungs. I hoped to make my transition from this facility and welcomed the experience of its services. I was not disappointed.

Seasoned and skilled staff, still masked for protection from Covid, welcomed me and promptly came to my assistance when needed. Their responses to my questions orientate me to the facility and my private guest room with its tasteful framed prints affording colors of the outdoors. A large window and a glass-paneled door looked out upon the private patio with an iron table and chairs, a bird-feeder, a lush meadow with four-year old-trees, the age of this facility. Two fauns spent much of Saturday afternoon with me.

Covid restrictions kept me in my room where I continued my exercises, read 1776, the historical novel by David McCullough, and prayed for those around me. Not a sound from anywhere did I hear, those twenty-four hours I was there.

And during the night, the cardinal-print nightgown contoured my body with cushiony warmth. I’m grateful for my stay at Evelyn’s House, there being only sixteen guest rooms for the use of the entire BJC system. 

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