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Exam rooms, an image, found in Stories of Hope – Living in Serenity with Chronic Pain and Illness (2012), jarred awareness of my bleak past. Decades of autoimmune disease had led me to frequent them, whether in hospitals, clinics or medical buildings. As I relocated from city to city, I sought out the best internists, rheumatologists, and surgeons, their names and institutions stitched above the pockets of their starched medical coats.

Within the narrow confines of exam rooms, I waited partially disrobed, my list of questions curling in perspiring hands. To distract myself, I studied lurid charts of diseases on the walls, peeked through blind-covered windows to the streets below, thumbed through dog-eared trade magazines, listened for footfalls in the corridor. I also prayed. And then the door would click open, my doctor, followed by fellows and medical students filling the space between us.

The routine was much the same: the narration of raw symptoms and ineffective drugs prescribed from the previous visit, the doctors’ touch upon inflamed joints, orders for x-rays and lab work ups, and then, the plan: surgery or return in one month. Little helped. I still hobbled, over-smiling the grimacing.

Now that I’m under the care of the hospice medical director, there are no more exam rooms—Only my dining room with fresh tulips, frequented by sensitive and caring nurses and the chaplain. It is from this room that I’m preparing for my transition, one day at a time. Deep is my joy and gratitude.

Like summer sprinkles, warm feelings soothed me as I awoke to this morning’s dream and recorded it:

I’m homebound as I await knee surgery. A dear friend comes by with her black and white shaggy-haired dog. Immediately, the dog approaches me, nuzzles her head against my thigh. I lean over and stroke her soft head. She squeals with delight. I also learn of a heavily researched series featuring Jesus of Nazareth. It will be filmed in the Holy Land near the time of my surgery. I’m very excited. Not wanting to miss a single program, I inform my surgeon and his nurse.

My scheduled knee surgery suggests a correction of my hobbled spirit stunned by the global pandemic and glitches of my terminal illness; it attracts my Dreamer’s intervention to repair the corresponding disconnect within my psyche. Such is the mystery of its on-going care.

The dear friend, a carrier of the Sacred Feminine, suggests hands-on relating: both her soulful presence and her black and white shaggy-haired dog disrupt my brain fog and restore feelings. With her pet, I also squeal, and the fissures in my psych coalesce into wholeness. Yet, there is still more healing.

Jesus of Nazareth appears stirring dormant passions: Long an integral part of my spiritual landscape, especially during Gloucester directed retreats, I heed the call to reopen the gospels and interface them, anew, with my end time.

And the Holy Land, imaging Creator God’s continuous action in time/space, bespeaks the planet Earth in the throes of turmoil. This will work out, with valuable life lessons for all.

Gratitude to my Dreamer streams from my depths, keeps me humble. On my own, such repairs are impossible.

 

 

The portal of thin places, found in ancient Celtic spirituality, still speaks to the experience of prayer.

The Celts settled the British Isles in the early Bronze Age, about 1180 b.c., and brought with them imaginations teeming with myths, poetry, songs, and rituals that maintained communion with the Otherworld. Earth mounds marked entrances to this realm, but only the initiated could enter; others did so, at their peril. Heroes peopled these enclosures and became sources of inspiration, guidance, and courage for the Celts as they vanquished other warlike tribes and expanded their influence.

In the early fifth century a.d., however, the evangelization of Ireland began through the preaching of Bishop Palladius and St. Patrick. Except for the Otherworld, its “pagan” heroes, sacred wells and springs, portals, and landscapes were Christianized. To this day, the Otherworld is still accessed through the portal of thin places, permeable membranes to the Sacred; it alone separates us from the God of compassion.

Our times, like those of the Celts, call for extraordinary measures as planet Earth reels with sickness and enervates spirits. Powerless and humble, we await the interventions of the medical community, follow recommended protocols, and check developments online.

Through thin places, we also access our God who wants the eradication of this deadly virus more than we do, wants restitution of systems, so sorely disrupted.

As prayer-warriors, we can help.

 

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