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Brrrng! Brrrng! It was my doorbell. I was still getting used to it, having just moved into my new home earlier in the day. Perhaps it was another neighbor come to welcome me. Several had already stepped by. After shelving the book in my study, I headed for the front door, still limping from recent knee surgeries.

“Why, is this my friend, Ms. Liz?” It was Ginny, her question brimming with playfulness, but her breathing, heavy. Then, supported by a cane, she was able to walk the distance between our homes. Perspiration dotted her wide forehead as she stepped inside and said, “O! You’ve already done wonders for this place—the creamy colors of the walls and the fireplace. I like the feel of it.” That was fourteen years ago.

For years, we enjoyed impromptu meetings in my front yard whenever she found me raking or gardening. Seated in her handicapped van cooled by the air conditioner, the motor idling, she regaled me with stories of her grandchildren, bemoaned garbled communication among specialists involved in her care, and detailed the side effects of the latest medication she was taking. Her laughter seemed to grow more hilarious with the darker stories.

Such laughter suggested a profound reliance upon her God that drew her into my heart. She had already tasted the dregs of life before I met her and was scraped clean. Humility was not just a word. She breathed it.

Even more humor merged with last year’s cancer diagnosis that squeaked sideways onto other chronic ailments. Subsequent phone contacts revealed her absolute trust in God’s will. With unstinting clarity she opted for hospice, the next step. When the drugs failed, however, she took her last breath surrounded by family. She was home.

In the wake of Ginny’s passing, I’m left with sadness and a paradoxically rich emptiness. I liken her spirit to four brash lilies eternally alive in the sun.

 

“Hi Liz! So glad we’re meeting this morning. Do come in.” So welcomed Ellen Sheire standing in her doorway, her brown eyes shimmering with light, her amber bangles and earrings complementing her shirtwaist dress. It was March 1988, a humid morning that would launch decades of dream analysis with my new helper, a Jungian-trained analyst. I had nowhere else to go, racked, as I was, by terrifying dreams imaging physical and psychic disorders.

Denial screened the enormity of this undertaking: the complete gut job of my psyche, given its mishmash of others’ values ill-suited to my individuation. With no sense of who I was, with no voice, I was slowly dying.

What was obvious to Ellen those first weeks of dream analysis was my disease of alcoholism. However, denial thwarted entering12-Step recovery and the brownstone across the street until 1991. There, I learned about letting go and letting God, a process that continues into the present.

Interesting that Ellen never sought to fix me, rather midwifed me toward the God-given riches buried within my unconscious. Her tactics were simple: recommended Jungian authors who amplified the elucidation of my dreams each week; travel with Jungian study groups to Sacred sites of the Feminine in western Europe; active imagination with spirit guide Michael for, ten years; memoir writing, once retired; and monthly meetings of the local C. J. Jung Society. Thirty-three loose-leaf binders evidenced the fruitfulness of our relationship.

A woman of selfless joy, Ellen Sheire drew me to her study those Friday mornings from which I emerged with renewed hope, even laughter, to continue this arduous work. My gratitude is boundless.

From this vantage point, I’m deeply content to return this gift of life, with her finger prints, to Creator-God, whenever, however…

 

 

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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