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This dream gentled me into awareness as I woke:

 It is a humid afternoon, overcast. I am alone. Those I came with have remained in our cabin. Slowly, I make my way down to the bank of the river and feel the mud ooze between my toes. I stop and look around. Tangled woods pattern the water with curves that stretch far ahead. I feel the water lap against my knees as I pick my way forward. Time passes. Suddenly, fear grips me. I don’t know if I can find my way back to the cabin. I’m lost.

 Powerful symbols carry the dream story. Afternoon suggests mid-time, still allotted to me as opposed to night’s end-time. Humidity sucks me within lethargy, befuddles clear thinking, and messes with decisions. Robot-like, I leave my companions within the safety of the cabin and move toward the meandering river: Its unconscious realm demands my engagement. Tangled vegetation on its banks suggests dark places replete with new learning for me to internalize. Mud speaks of primordial creation as depicted in the book of Genesis; it restores my knees. The cabin represents the secure and safe enclosure where all needs are met.

In the dream, I remember regretting not having worn protective footwear lest I injure myself. That does not happen. Instead, I squish along until conscious of my muddy feet splintering my lethargy and setting me a-quaking. Nothing looks familiar. I’m lost.

True, I have grown in acceptance of the mortality inherent within my humanness, but only a modicum. To convince me of this, my Dreamer lays bare my psyche’s curiosity and fear: Curiosity with the unfolding of my terminal illness; fear, with its consummation. Because I still hanker after the cabin, there’s more work to be done.

 

 

We come from God and we return to God.

 I do not remember first learning this truth, but it’s been integral with the furnishings in my psyche for a long time. Online research found this saying proclaimed in the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic scriptures, each affording glimpses into the mystery of creation. Such wisdom shivers my timbers, some of which I hope to share in this blog.

It begins with We, the approximately 7.8 billion persons living on planet Earth today, given fluctuations of daily births and deaths. Focusing upon such numbers staggers comprehension, evokes wonder, replicates variety, and fashions communities from barren tracks of land—Human life seems afire with its mandate to evolve.

Early on, however, time with its limits, crimps innate freedoms, but if properly understood, leave residues of honesty and humility in their wake—the attitude critical to approaching the sacred mystery of creation. We are not God. There is another. With more passing of time, we taste the dregs of mortality. Then what … to whom do we turn?

To the Giver of Life, within the grace of cleansing, itself a new creation—such is where I find myself today. The process resonates with the Hebrew word shuv that turns to Creator God for conversion of heart. Such is impossible on my own. Never have I been so awake to this development, one I’ve witnessed in loved ones, but now my lot to experience. Once complete, this turning will bring me home. Until then, my new education continues, within the constraints of time.

 

 

 

Questions about the timing of Mary Oliver’s last publication, Upstream, Selected Essays in 2016 caught my attention. She passed in 2018.

In these nineteen essays, two of which are original to this slim volume, she left us a life-long template of her spirited struggles. It’s as if she had unfurled gossamer threads over her troubled psyche; then wove them into a wordsmith, a solitary, a listener, a passionate observer of life’s waxing and waning, a priestess.

For whatever reasons, Mary Oliver was not safe in her childhood home or in the classroom. Such fragile beginnings are nuanced in her first essay, together with the compelling influence of her mentors, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, and Walt Whitman. Only in the surrounding woods and creek outside her semi-rural Cleveland home did she find solace; it became her Temple where she pondered, wrote, and discovered who she was, what she was, and what she wanted to be in the world.

And she became that, and exquisitely so.

Her nineteen essays in Upstream reflect her affinity with whatever flies in the skies, maneuvers on the forest floor, or swims in the ocean: a black-backed gull, a snapping turtle, a common spider, among others. Her judiciously placed words illumine the depth of her exuberance; its freshness feels like the first morning of creation. Yet, the leitmotif of death shadows its élan.

Perhaps sensing her own, she must have selected each essay in Upstream, mindful of its whorl of energy enriching the one following and plunging her readers into the mystery of living life with its imponderables.

 

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