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At midnight, this dream startled me:

A festive mood circulates among well-wishers, dressed to the nines, seated upon white folding chairs in a large clearing encircled by virgin pines. Beneath a brilliant sun the wedding party make last minute adjustments to their floral gowns, tweak daisies and yellow coneflowers in their bouquets while sharing stories of the couple. Near the tulle-decked canopy stands the minister who reviews the readings for the ceremony. Suddenly, like a summer squall, a pall douses the guests—the bride has died.

 This dream mirrors extremes in my psyche: vibrant health and death. Such information corresponds to my hospice experience, the richest period in my life.

Despite occasional symptoms that unnerve me, vibrancy of spirit permeates my diseased eighty-four-old-body with fresh élan. Each day’s adventure increases the aching for ultimate communion (the wedding) that awaits me. I am ready, but as in the dream story, I’ve still more dying to experience: The skid marks of self-absorption and rage, imprinted upon my psyche by a lifetime of chronic pain and illness must be addressed.

As in the dream, harmony evidences the Sacred-in-our-midst: the bright spirits of my helpers, the camaraderie of CPA recovery, the greening outside my study windows, the laughter of helmeted kids on scooters pumping along sidewalks—Above all, those moments of cherishing the hidden treasure in the field that Jesus talks about.

As also in the dream, summer’s riotous colors play upon my imagination, jostle words into figures of speech for use in my writing. Even yesterday’s squall refreshes my spirit.

Such dreams afford significant guidance and companion my nights/days as I move through end time, with its grace-in the-moment.

 

Around midnight I woke with this dream:

Jesus comforted me.

And later:

A light-skinned young couple, devoted to each other, sits on a piano bench. His tapered fingers played the accompaniment to the Jesus hymn they sing, with full voice.

 This pair of consoling dreams empowers me to trust my old body’s continuing diminishment, one day at a time, until my last one. Practicing CPA’s Step I also supports this process with its emphasis upon cultivating an honest relationship with my body. Gentleness is also paramount.

The first dream’s consolation lingers as I compose this blog, despite having no recall of the story—just His loving presence. My spirit brightens; its joy, boundless, a foretaste of what’s to come on the other side of my last breath.

The second dream of the light-skinned young couple heartens me. From the depths of my unconscious comes multifaceted harmony of their genders, of their blended voices, of their willingness to be in relationship, and of their shared faith and trust in Jesus. And on a deeper note, the dream suggests more healing of my racial prejudice, if not its removal altogether. I have wanted this for long years, but have been unable to extricate it from my shadow, it being imprinted since childhood.

And the Jesus hymn envelops my spirit in bliss. If such overtures, fleeting as they are, attest to realities far beyond our kin, what must eternal life be? And we’re all headed there, at least that’s my understanding, like bees swarming to the golden hive. In the meantime, tonight’s dreams remain to be learned from.

 

Within the dense viburnum shrub outside my study window, an orange-red flicker caught my attention until breezes hid it from view. I waited until the leaves again parted to reveal a female cardinal nesting her clutch. Beneath her long tail was the cone-shaped nest of leaves, stems, and twigs. She seemed content, her pointed feather crest bespeaking her authority as mother. For at least two weeks, her body warmth will facilitate the hatching.

This experience of nesting also recalled the Italian sonnet, “God’s Grandeur” composed by the mystic Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1877, the year of his ordination as a Jesuit. In the octet he discounts the evils of Liverpool’s Industrial Revolution dulling the sensitivities of the residents: “…all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil/and wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell…” Yet for the spiritually adept in the sestet, Hopkins images the Holy Ghost “…over the bent/World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings.”

In view of global disease and unrest challenging our way of life, these images afford critical protection and care, there being evil intent upon rocking our foundations and disseminating fear. No one knows the outcome of this upheaval, how it will look like or when it will occur. Within quiet cloisters of our hearts, we watch and wait and pray. In the religious history of the world, there has always been a remnant that has survived and told the story to those willing to listen. Perhaps this will be our experience.

However this crisis works out, we’re always sheltered from harm like fledglings warmed by nesting birds, both natural and supernatural. Such is our God-given faith.

 

 

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