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Yesterday’s corrective dream jolts me into full awareness: its negativity smells, suggests contamination from Beast, my negative animus.

I’m living in a Senior Citizen complex and scheduled to be put to death following this afternoon’s movie in the theater. In the semi darkness, I find my accustomed seat; next to it is the bucket of water used for such purposes. I’d hoped they’d forgotten, but to my dismay, they haven’t.

I shudder. The faceless they have ordered my death, interestingly enough within the facility’s movie theater where the dumbed-down sit passively, self-absorbed, dull-witted: all aspects of my unconscious. I flop upon my plush seat and await my fate. The bucket of water no longer menaces me—Just part of the routine killings.

The setting of the Senior Citizen complex also unnerves me. I know. Four times I have been in such places for rehab. Their homey allurements still chafe, subtle routines oppress spirit, institutional cooking blocks bowels, staff shortages irk bedpan-sitters, rules and regulations stifle initiative—conform or else is the mandate. In sense it was like being put to death. But not so, today.

And the bucket of water: It morphs into a blue one with a rope handle, such as a child would use to mold sandcastles by the ocean. A shift occurs in my psyche. Despite my terminal illness, life still abounds. Rather than sit listlessly in the movie theater, I empty the bucket, tuck it under my arm, and search for the beach, close by. It’s playtime in the sun.

And the dream’s terror lifts.

 

It was Saturday morning, the sun playing off rumpled scarecrows displayed upon a shelf near the entrance of the supermarket. Slouch hats bedecked with sunflowers covered shocks of orange yarn spilling upon shoulders, peeking from shirts and pants legs—nothing uptight about these field-warriors. Their stitched grins and rolling black eyes seized my imagination.

“Would you look at that! I must have one!” I said while loosening the scarf around my neck and stomping slush from my boots. Gone were the leach-like doldrums that had enveloped my spirit from the night before. In the face of such absurdity, there was no room for such nastiness.

That was decades ago. Since then, I’ve showcased my scarecrow in rooms around my house as a reminder of the disarming power of humor, especially when blatant evil seems to have the upper hand.

But there’s more to this image than the restoration of psychic balance. I’ve grown to equate it with God-Power within my depths. When flooded by the untoward, replete with confusion, pain, and speechlessness, I know to shut down, do nothing, and in the company of my scarecrow welcome the ludicrous. Eventually change occurs with the reemergence of the “wee small voice,” and with it, new lessens learned—stark reminders of my humanness with its graced foibles.

 

 

Yet still another upheaval awaits me around the next corner. Such growth is messy, but with my scarecrow, it works!

Brazen winds trash derelict warehouses.

Stifling humidity empties playgrounds, becalms swings.

Winter-ice crusts streets, crazes schedules.

Specter branches expose barren nests.

Sirens penetrate flame-scorched skies.

Road kill numbs.

Mastectomies scar spirit.

Bare cupboards knife the new hungry.

Addicts crash into nowhere land.

Homeless skitter about for homes.

Howling newborns unnerve the universe.

Hooded monks immerse in self-emptying meditation.

Translucent soul mates pass on.

Children leave home, premature or seasoned.

 

Violence sculpts these hollowing moments, and so many more, within us and around us. We recoil, our comfort supplanted, our illusions dissipated.

And what do we find if we dare look? A parallel violence filled with unutterable yearnings that ground us in our humanness, that prod us over the threshold into paradox. There, we poke around where the Sacred hangs out.

In hallowing such hollowing, we grow into His likeness. Spiritual warriors always do.

 

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