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“This is the Body of Christ, Liz,” she said placing the cross-incised wafer into my outstretched palms and returning to the chair in my study. Silence of communion etched innate belonging upon our psyches; we gleamed with the gift.

Only after raising my eyes did I begin to speak. “Thanks, Bridget, it’s been a long time. I so appreciate your coming to my home this morning,” I said, scooting back in my arm chair and noting the sun’s glimmer upon a cardinal’s wings, in flight. Before her arrival, I wondered what we’d have to share. Yet, words came easily, despite my departure from the church seventeen years ago, caused by a significant dream.

“I’m also glad to see you again, Liz. Your home is lovely, so welcoming. How long have you lived here?” And so, the conversation grew, with intervals of laughter.

In her younger years, Bridget had taught religious education to the parish children, then, went on for a degree in theology in spiritual direction and retreats, all the while, raising children with her husband, still an avid chess player. Her interest in my life experiences led to questions about my terminal illness.

“Do know that your name appears in the weekly bulletin—among the ill parishioners? Although you are not physically among us, we come to each of you, in prayer, Fridays at the church.” Of special note were her strong hands with a simple gold band and her lively eyes filled with life’s rough and tumble amusement.

Before we separated, I asked, “Bridget, will you remove your mask so I can see your face? It’s been a while.”

In the ensuing moment, unspeakable joy fused us to Another. The Gift deepens.

In this morning’s conversation the word prickle caught my attention; its explosive consonants have a long usage: from the Old English pricel, an instrument for puncturing sharp points; from the Middle Dutch prikkel; and from the Middle Low Germanic base of prick.

Living languages morph into cognizant meanings, until dropped altogether onto the bone pile of letters. A cursory reading of the Oxford English Dictionary, currently under revision, reveals this pattern.

We see this evolution in the word prickle, both the verb and noun form, around twelve hundred when its figurative sense emerged: the cause of agitation, distress, or trouble. Late fourteenth century heard prickle as inciting or stirring into action. In the early fifteenth century, audiences heard Shakespeare’s use of prick in his comedy As You Like I, combining the vulgarism with the standard meaning of the noun, the act of piercing or puncturing. Other writers of his time did similarly.

Most linguists believe prick has only been used as a direct insult since 1929.

But enough about the history of prickle or prick.

Today’s usage also implies varying degrees of pain: from the behavior of active alcoholics, from canes of raspberry and blackberry bushes, from unwanted advice, from diseases, from high stress, from avoiding emotional truth.

However viewed, this blog invites us to be more careful with our use of language. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It works…

Around 4 A.M., I awoke with two illness dreams:

I am dressed but very unwell. I sit next to another woman, also with symptoms, anxious and self-absorbed. We wait for the delivery of medicine.

I am weak, can barely stand as another holds me from behind so that I can receive communion. Everything blurs before me.

This is the first time I remember appearing ill in my dreams, and significantly so, on my eighty-sixth birthday. My psyche reveals major distress. I’m powerless, depressed, barely alive. Only the compassion of others can sustain this onslaught of diseases that envelope my entire being.

On a deeper level, I search for understanding. True, I’ve had problems with my word processor and have been unable to compose for several days. Such focus, alone, establishes communion with Higher Power; without it, I become disconnected, abandoned, and anxious. True, more signs of aging, apart from my terminal illness, are appearing in my old body. And perhaps I’m still trying to fix myself.

Certainly, deeper acceptance is called for. Denial has no place here. It’s only moving forward, twenty-four hours at a time, supported by CPA’s Twelve Steps and the spiritual fellowship. And certainly, deeper emotional honesty is called for, as well. My eighty-six years of life feel like a heavy mantle over my shoulders, and only Higher Power can bring about its acceptance and deliverance.

So like a flickering candle-flame, I wait in the darkness for the next dream and its direction …

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