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At 6:50 A.M., I awoke with this dream of initiation:

It is night. A woman invited me to join eleven others in a great hall illumined by beeswax candles, some hanging from the ceiling, some from sconces on the walls. Twelve young girls wear wreathes of baby breath upon shoulder-length hair that complement their long gowns; they sit in a circle upon gilded chairs. More than willing to embrace the sacred rituals, this night marks a turning point in their young lives. I’m honored to be among them.  

Again, the dream story occurs at night, a period of darkness and end-time learning for my psychic growth; its components reference hidden achievements as well as hidden or unacknowledged failures—The Dreamer always speaks the truth and involves Himself in my nightly course correction.

A woman, comely in features, yet, unknown from reality, suggests the Divine Feminine who included me among eleven others, totaling twelve of us. The twelve young girls—again repeats the number twelve, the weighted number found through the Sacred Scriptures of Jews, Christians, and Muslims; the spiritualties of other religions; astronomy and other sciences and social orders. Not surprising the frequency of the number twelve in our planetary system, it symbolizes perfection, authority, completion.

The white gowns of the initiates and their wreathes of baby breath upon shoulder-length hair, suggest virginal integrity, ripeness in innocence. I, too, had sat in one of those gilded chairs and remembered the hushed excitement while waiting.

But this is another initiation, with still more experience to bring to the ritual. All is gift.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,

the hope of the nations and their Savior:

Come and save us, O Lord our God.

On December 23, 2021, the seventh and final O Antiphon climaxes these pleas for deliverance. As if to augment Yahweh’s power even more, previously used Messianic titles are added to Emmanuel, found in Isaiah 7:14.  

Emmanuel, a prophetic name meaning God-with-us, first appeared in the prophecy of Isaiah, 736 BCE, when enemies of the Judean King Ahaz sought to destroy Jerusalem…the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel—A mysterious prophecy that still seizes the imaginations of believers, an intimacy that whispers in all life forms.

Yet, how access this power to waylay enemies, wherever discovered? Evil is real; ancient Israelites as well as ourselves have always needed guidance and protection.  On our own, this is impossible.

Again, the imperatives, Come and save us, conclude this O Antiphon and prepare us for the celebration of the full Christmas mysteries.

Indeed, God is intimately with us—that never changes.

“You’re good to go,” said Tyrol seated behind the Plexiglas screen, his expansive chocolate eyes studying me over his mask. “And you’ll need this to get in,” he added handing me the card for the scanner on the nearby counter. I breathed easier, the afternoon sunshine bathing the foyer in light behind me. My admission to the YMCA was free with my Silver Sneakers eligibility. 

“Thanks for your help. You’ll never know,” I said smiling and inserting the card into my wallet.

True, I still have a terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis; its progression, unpredictable. Since November 2019, the hospice nurses have counseled, “Just wait and take care of yourself. We’ll be back next week.” And they continue to come, noting signs of my decline in their computers: Evidence of my eighty-five + years unraveling my youthfulness. Then, I got tired of waiting for I knew not what.

In January 2021, I begin short walks in the neighborhood, with my helper’s support and my cane. How I relished the warmth of the sun, telltale signs of greening, and neighbors walking their dogs, having been housebound for so long.

With last week’s return of humidity, though, my spirit sank. In no way could I breathe. I needed an air-conditioned venue to continue my daily walks.

How I was led to the Silver Sneakers and the nearby YMCA is another story. Once inside, though, my crimped airways opened and relaxed. Lightness filled my lungs. My gait felt more steadfast, with less dependence upon my cane and none upon my helper, who followed me around the facility largely empty, save for a handful of seniors.

This will work, if I let it, one day at a time.

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