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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 …

At 7:15 A.M., I awoke with this instructive dream:

Jesuit friends invite me to join them for meetings before the opening of the retreat at their facility located on the Atlantic Coast. A reserve on my usual room, with the floral chintz shag and matching bedspread facing the ocean, awaits me. Other laypersons have also been invited. A friendly Jesuit smiles as he eases me into an armchair in the conference room. The topic under review is the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed.

Deep within my psyche, Jesuit friends, symbolized by masculine energy, affirmed my efforts to integrate the disparate pieces of my unlived life before spirit leaves my body. For what felt a long time, their warmth and camaraderie encouraged the arduous continuation of this work.

The topic of the conference, the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed, suggested outdated defense mechanisms that no longer work in my psyche: fantasy, idealization, dissociation, and denial. Such block the conscious embrace of reality where life happens: From childhood, I was only able to look around life’s corners, not participate. These defense mechanisms had kept me safe, in my self-imposed prison, but no longer are they useful in my search for psychic integration.

Awareness of their continuing presence demands activation of the “conscious contact” of Step Eleven. Only HP can release me from this tyranny, for that is what it is.

The dream’s setting, the feminine container of my room with the floral chintz swag over the window facing the ocean, supports this endeavor. I have only to be willing to participate, one moment at a time.

At 8 A.M., I was jolted awake by this dream:

It is night. I am alone, my present age, but not ill. Many years have passed since last visiting the Jesuits’ College Church, located on their campus at St. Louis University. The Gothic-like church is ablaze with light from overhanging bronze fixtures. What puzzles me is the large number of virile Jesuits, all wearing black clergy shirts with white collars, belly laughing, guffawing, and slapping each other on their backs. Something is very funny. No one notices me as I meander among the rooms, many of which are being renovated and enlarged; sawdust, everywhere. Then, I notice a small boy, unwashed, still in soiled pajamas wandering around the corridor. I’m overwhelmed.

This glimpse into my psyche disconcerts me. The image of the Jesuits’ College Church speaks of my thirty years involvement in that venue, until my departure in May 2007 due to a significant dream. By that time, my earlier idealization of the Jesuits had dissipated, but the dream suggests their continuing influence in my psyche: the patriarchal muffling of deep stirrings toward the Sacred Feminine.

The renovated and enlarged rooms of the churchsuggest an inflation in my psyche, swollen by pride and masquerading as control over my terminal illness. Lest I lose ground, slavish adherence to my ADLs, especially exercise, is critical.  

The unseemly behavior of the very young Jesuits suggests purposeless distractions, to which I can succumb whenever shadowed by the noxious specter that wants my body dead. And like those very young Jesuits, I dress up for each twenty-four hours as if still participating in the land of the living.

The small boy suggests the neglected Divine Child Archetype in my psyche, unattended, ignored. No wonder that I’m overwhelmed.

Ultimately, the dream lays bare my denial toward what is advancing toward me. All the more to cling to the practice of CPA’s 12 Steps and pray, ”Mercy!”

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