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At 7:10 A. M., I awoke with this dream of laughter:

I have joined a small mixed group of retreatants for a weekend of prayer and meditation in the forest, the sounds of the river, nearby, humming with frogs, insects, and badgers. One of the women cannot contain her laughter most of the time we are together; at any moment her blue eyes giggle, her toothy grin sets off anyone near her, even the director. It is now Sunday evening and the time for departure has come. No one wants to leave here.

In the dream the small mixed group of retreatants recalls my annual Gloucester retreat; though silent, its camaraderie warmed everyone’s spirits, with our sinfulness dissolved in recognition of our foolishness and lightened by tears and laughter.

The forest, the dream’s setting, suggests an unknown place filled with challenges that scour the insides of honesty. Change is demanded. No one frequents such a place without being forewarned of its dangers. And the river is critical for deep psychic cleansing.

One of the women sets the tone for this retreat, like none I’ve ever attended. Her perspective on life differs from those around her, and from her depths emanates an authority supporting her sense of humor and inviting participation. So compelling her range of light-some sounds that no one can long resist. Initial hesitancy crumbles like week-old cake with discolored icing. Hearts, long moth-balled in dank attics, expand and dress in the new clothing of relationships. What was a prickly group has become a community with meaningful ties, ribboned with colorful laughter of many tones. No one wants to leave here.

My takeaway from this dream is to excavate my humor, long buried beneath the woes of transition work. I’m not the only human being ever to lose her body.

At 4:30 A.M., I awoke with this comforting dream:

It is mid-afternoon. I’m, alone, seated in the study of an Anglican rectory in Great Britain, poring over travel brochures describing sites in the European Union that I’d like to visit. I’m wearing an ivory lace bridal dress and veil. I hear footsteps in the hall. It’s the Rector and his golden retriever. Quickly, I collect my stuff and go to another room, not without seeing the dog bound after him.

Unlike other dreams, mid-afternoon suggests more time/space to continue my psychic work for my transition. Each twenty-four hours is a gift, as also the ivory lace bridal dress that brings to mind the parable of the wedding garment in the gospel of Matthew. Mine is exquisite with long sleeves and skirts. In the dream, the veil enhances my naturally curly brunette hair; my face glows. I feel blessed.

In Jungian analytical psychology, the Rector represents the Positive Animus of the woman’s masculine side as uncovered in the collective unconscious through dreams. That I’m unwilling to fully engage with the Rector, despite his invitation to work in his rectory, suggests an area of growth still to be achieved. I’m still on the periphery of my masculinity.

The travel brochures and the bounding dog recall the joyful discovery of having been an analysand of Ellen Shire for decades. In line with our work, she plied me with information of Jungian tours to pre-historic sites in foreign lands and urged me to participate. And her dogs, Toby, and later Max, squealed with joy in her company.

In retrospect, Ellen Sheire carried the Sacred during our hours until I could learn to access it for myself.

I’m grateful and still teachable.

At 6:20 A.M., I woke with this dream:

It is evening service at the black church I’ve been attending, at the invitation of the pastor and his wife. Again, I’m greeted and enter the fellowship filled with hymns and prayer. Other than occasional constipation, I am well. The pastor, also a physician, will perform a proctologic exam in his office in the morning. Having had one before, I’m anxious.

The vibrant setting of this dream, the evening service at the black church, opens my psyche to hidden disorders that require identification and correction. The occasional constipation keeps my body/mind starved of vital nutrients, dulls my perceptions, and dumps me within the morass of sloth: Why bother?

The pastor bridges the gap between God’s presence and the worshipers in his black church: such engagement restores disorders that sludge human interactions and quickens spirits into living flames. On my own, I’m powerless to achieve the wholeness to which I aspire.

Yet, I’m anxious. Given my long-standing pride, it’s painful to admit my arrogance and willfulness, smirches upon my character for all to behold. For much of my life, pretense kept such disorders at bay; whenever aware of them, I barely nodded at their toxicity.

Since working the Twelve Steps in Recovery, however, such disclosures become frequent cries to Higher Power to effect the necessary changes. This is precisely the task of spirituality.

With the afflicted Job (10:6), I identify with his cry to God: You must search out my faults and probe after my sin. Such purification works: It’s about becoming humble and serving others.

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