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News of her transition on February 17, 2022, grieved me. A ninety-year-old college graduate, mother, grandmother, widow, teacher, concert-trained pianist, seamstress, and volunteer, she fully tasted the joys and hardships of life.

Years of her daughter’s stories endeared me to her, especially when needing help to their rustic cabin, summers, spent at Donner Lake at Truckee, California. There, as cheerful matriarch and widow, she greeted relatives and friends, even the brown bears that wandered nearby.

After her daughter had tended the final needs of her father, the focus shifted to her mother who soldiered on, still volunteering at her church and the Chappaqua Library in New York. Her passion for books, her deep interest in people, her indomitable will fired her spirit and attracted others to her wisdom and humor. Only dementia and a cancer diagnosis slowed her down, until her Spirit-filled release last week.

So, when the mother did pass, all legal and medical and burial plans were in order, thanks to her daughter’s daily phone contacts and timely visits, often with her husband; these occurred over the years. Her selflessness to expend energy and resources, despite chronic illness, still moves me.

Her mother’s name was Marge. She will be missed.

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.

Around 6 A.M., I woke with two encouraging dreams:

I’m tall, strong, sun-tanned, and wearing a cantaloupe-colored dress with a slightly darker A-line coat. I’m alone, content as I watch for what happens next.

I visit the Jesuit staff at their Gloucester, Massachusetts retreat house. After supper that evening, we sit around telling stories laced with boisterous humor. I laugh so hard my jaw aches, and my eyes glisten.

Both dreams reveal wellness in my psych, despite chronic symptoms slowing down my body. Never have I looked so beautiful as in the first dream, my body perfectly proportioned, the cantaloupe colors of my attire enhancing my complexion and brunette wavy hair. I appear patient, which is not always the case in my conscious world. When not surrendered to my habitual slowness, anger flares like a book of matches and engulfs me in more distress until I wake up to the marauder.

The Jesuit staff in the second dream suggests the camaraderie of the masculine principle in my psyche: energized, loving, humorous, unhampered, attentive—each supportive of my conscious efforts to deal with my terminal illness, despite occasional pitfalls of grief. Such a gift uplifts my spirits for yet another twenty-four hours.

The image of the retreat house in my psyche suggests an enclosure with ceaseless prayer; that of the supper, our having participated in some kind of communion service—the Mass, perhaps.

The élan from these dreams thrusts me back to that sacred place, Eastern Point Retreat House, integral for my on-going spiritual development since 1984.

I still long to sit beside the Atlantic and study its movements. My Dreamer knows …

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