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At 4:45 A.M., I awoke with this dream of my mother:

My mother has been admitted to the Women’s Ward at the St. Louis Psychiatric Hospital and I go to visit her. I tell the guard my mother’s name, Mary E. Moloney, and several times, I hear her name called, echoing crazily upon the Old World marble interior as I walk.

This dream, from the personal unconscious, teaches much.

The repetition of Mary E. Moloney, in loud tones, over the intercom unnerved me. It’s my name, as well, despite my never having internalized it; only upon legal and business documents does it appear. Could this be another wake-up call? 

The first occurred after Mother’s funeral, standing at the Moloney graveside at Calvary Cemetery. My eyes fixated upon the small plate soldered to the side of the steel vault intended for her coffin: in raised gold letters, it read: “Mary E. Moloney – 1909-2008.” I was stunned; then hollowed—Had I had ever lived my own life? She was now gone. No other Mary E. Moloney lived that I knew of. I had the remainder of my life to claim my real name—This, I am doing in the time allotted me.

So the dream opens me to the richness of my name, Mary E. Moloney, integral to my birthright and grounds for profound thanks to Mother and Creator God.

I awoke at 6:25 A.M. with this inspiring dream:

Women from all parts of the world gather and pray for peace.

This glimpse into my psyche, cast in pastel blues waves, opened me to a different kind of power, one that seeks compassion, intimacy, and trust in the Invisible; one that softens rough edges, listens with the heart, that laughs merrily with life’s twists and turns. So profound is this power that violence shirks her company and flees like disturbed bats in underground caves dripping with slime.

Such transformations happen within the school of prayer, to which Women from all parts of the world devote themselves, unsparingly. In my perception of the diseased, truncated Planet Earth, only God’s intervention, with one psyche at a time, can facilitate some kind of restoration—a new creation, if you wish. Living around the edges of Life no longer works.

So what kind of prayer are we taking about? One that accepts the arduous work of rooting out the stale furniture in our psyches, one that tracks our wolf-like instincts and squelches them from another kill, one that quests for authenticity, one that prompts us to pal with like-minded individuals and rebuild the broken.

Only within the present moment, in prayer, can we be so touched. Such inflames more courage to face and live in the truth where we traipse boundless shores, where we hike mountain paths, where we are set free, our birthrights fully actuated.

Classics in whatever genre—words, notes, pigment, marble, metal—require the artist to dig for inspiration into his/her psyche, realm of the Sacred. Facilitating the process is a servant heart, a willingness to change direction, and a letting go of the work—it never being finished. Indeed, the artist is co-creating with the Creator of the universe and learning a new way of being-inside-and-outside of the world.  Fortunately for us, there have always been such individuals who embraced this sacrifice of arduous becoming.

Aaron Copland is one of these artists whose music invariably opens me to the Beautiful where interludes of stillness speak. Appalachian Spring (1944), commissioned for the dancer Martha Graham and company and interwoven between the 1848 tune, Shaker Gifts, evokes such gentle hushes. Its war-weary audiences flocked to performances, their psyches uplifted by this new vision-in-sound that was awarded the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Music. 

War-weary myself this afternoon, I turned away from the news and listened to Appalachian Spring, scored for a chamber orchestra of thirteen instruments; its barely audible opening notes excised my scrambled psyche of turmoil and pried open my imagination. Immediately, I was in another world, deeply soothed, until twenty-five minutes later, again muted notes brought closure to the piece, and with it, an aching within me.

But the memory remains…

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