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Two startling dreams roused me during the pre-dawn hours:

My brother Mark asked my help in removing thousands of silver needles and straight pins from a magnificent display of unique fabrics that commanded rave reviews, worldwide. The venue for this artwork was at the St. Louis Cathedral.

Sleep returned immediately, only to have the following dream surface the next hour:

Many crowd a playing field on a sunny afternoon. Suddenly, the loud speaker system clicks on, and a warning voice announces: “If by 3 P.M., tomorrow, letters, T, O, M and Ed Buegge have not stopped drinking, they will die.” At least the announcer did not disclose the anonymity of my brother, I muse to myself.

Remembering that dream stories are replete with symbols and hidden in the unconscious, I had much to work with, their terror firing me for several hours afterwards.

To deal with these lessons, I prayed, with the psalmist: “Unless the Lord build the house, in vain do the laborers build it.” In my perception, dream work constitutes co-creating with God. He is the Master Builder.

The symbol of thousands of silver needles and straight pins in the first dream has multiple associations: their sharpness and invisibility, their impermanence in holding things together, their potential to inflict pain. Others’ perception of my well-defined character is fleeting, at best: a cover for multiple disorders still lodged in the darkness of my psyche. My brother Mark, already in the next life, invites me to explore this stinking morass with God, so as to remove it, before my own transition.

In the second dream, the announcer’s warning caught me unawares, so lulled I was by the afternoon sun and camaraderie of the participants on the playing field. Only after he clicked off the microphone did the full import of his words strike me with dread: alcoholism, our family disease, and death.

For generations, I’ve Twelve-Stepped my alcoholism and grasped its lethal nature, also evidenced at funerals and memorials. But the felt presence of death in my psyche is a first.

For years, studies of death have attracted me: its multiple expressions found in the work of psychologists and theologians, even authors and musicians. In blogging this subject, I’ve grown. But much of this buzzing about has not touched the core of my death, until this morning’s dream.

I’m grateful to having been so nudged, but more will be revealed. I’ve only to surrender and participate. This is working out…

Mildred, 83 years old, loner in dusty bungalow. From her heart spewed nastiness: “I put my daughter-in-law’s picture in the shit house where she belongs!” Each defecation renewed the enmity. Twinkle Toes, her double-footed cat, fondled her flip-flops.

Ann, 84 years old, born in the projects. Years of scrubbing dulled yearnings. The shock in the mirror: “My hair is white!” Intruder-killer infected her lungs.

Sarah, 85 years old, Scottish spinster in ground floor apartment. Hilarious storyteller. Shock of white hair matched the wildness in her eyes. Menial work around city neighborhoods toughened her feet. Ulcerated now, they restrict her movements from bed to commode to chair. Friends still knock on her door.

Juanita, 74 years old, matriarch in son’s bedroom, frozen in recesses of atrophied brain.

Swollen eyes resembled the sorrowing mother. G-tube feedings ballooned her dark frame propped upon pillows. Her extended family watched television.

Marie, 77 years old, chameleon in duplex. Spent, she had lived within the will of her mate. Like a flitting moth, she sought rest, but there was none. Catalepsy crippled her body-soul, listing to the right.

Vivian, 61 years old, victim in handicapped apartment. Mousy hair pulled from temples spooked hooded eyes. Safety-pinned sweaters warmed her stone-heart. Soul illness infected her joints, precipitated seizures. She sat in her chair.

Mildred-Ann-Sarah-Juanita-Marie-Vivian, Home Care Patients I’ve known from the 1990s, limped through end time, the dross of their spent lives purified within God’s emptiness, encircling them with blessing.

I pray the same for myself.

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