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After ten hours of restful sleep, I awoke at 7 A.M. with this healing dream:

It is Sunday afternoon. January’s bluster nips my cheeks as I hurry toward the conference room at The College Church. Some old friends still remember me as I take my seat. Other parishioners buzz in anticipation for the program: the origins of Southern spirituals, their history, together with black and white sketches that line the walls. I’m pleased that the Black presenter will respond to my question.

I still smile with this dream story—depicting me alive and well in mind, spirit, and body—with no sign of morbidity.

January’s bluster suggests the continuing hardship of managing with less-than-perfect lungs, moving into each twenty-four hours with my helpers. Sunday speaks to a more mindful pace of living.

The College Church, the dream’s setting, comes as a surprise. In May 2007, another dream demanded I leave, as it no longer challenged me. In subsequent years, negativity clouded other College Church dreams; but not this one. Perhaps it has morphed into my psychic church, wherein I’m put to the test, daily, moment by moment.

Within my psyche, Some old friends welcome me, suggesting a deepening relationship with who I am becoming. Their graced company offers consolation.

Southern spirituals, the subject of the presentation, speak of grief, still lodged in my unconscious, yet to be fully experienced. Still an onlooker to this process, I own having made several ill-designed forays that dead-ended.

And my question suggests ferment, again in my unconscious, allowing words to coalesce in meaningful searches as I continue digging deep into my flawed humanness for the meaningful.

And my trust in the Black presenter suggests my Higher Power, attuning me to His will with each breath and informing me of this process, only when ready.

So I’m grateful for this arduous work that’s keeping me conscious, more than I have ever been in my life.

At 4:30 A.M., a coughing spell woke me to this corrective dream:

A summery evening, I attend a free movie screened in a nearby park. I join others seated behind a narrow counter, my brown leather shoulder strap bag at my feet. Still mesmerized by the film’s impact, I slowly walk toward my car, then discover I don’t have my bag. I retrace my steps and, beneath subdued lighting, discover it missing. An ill-tempered cleaning lady is no help.

The dream story reveals shadow content I’ve been keeping from myself: my penchant for warmer weather, my attraction for freebies, and my distractions skirting full consciousness of my present circumstances.

With the waning light of October, my psyche begins to resist winter’s bluster, but there’s no stopping it; within its dismemberment, a deeper reality is present: both nature and my physical body undergo wasting and death—This is unacceptable. Of course, I cling to summer, full of riotous color and warmth.

Sloth’s lethargy, laced into a lifetime of chronic illness, always drew me toward freebies. In the dream, the free movie usurped my power of choice, preferring distraction rather than dealing with the reality of my terminal illness. At times, research and significant authors still envelop me, to the detriment of my self-care.

At the movie’s conclusion, brain fog settled it. No matter that I’d left my brown leather shoulder strap bag behind: within it, my identification, money, and keys. Only later did the pain of its loss goad my return to the site. The ill-tempered cleaning lady was a perfect fit for my mood: exhausted, alone, stripped of persona, and pissed.

So the urgency of paying attention to each moment allotted me is critical; there are still lessons to be learned. Flawed I am and flawed I will remain, within Higher Power’s unconditional love.

Has an elusive voice sandpapered your dreams with incongruent pieces from the past? Has consolation or anger-induced rapid breathing flooded your waking moments?

Who or what is this inner voice? From whence does it come? How cultivate it, how heed its directives, especially since it seems to know us so intimately? There is one who has researched these questions for us.

The Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung explored this voice, teeming from his unconscious between 1914 and 1930, and he illustrated his findings in The Red Book (2009). Emerging within these pages are his central discoveries: the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation. Prior to this seminal study, no psychologist had ever mapped the terrain of the unconscious, and because of which, psychotherapy has become a means for the higher development of the personality, not just treatment of sickness.

Synchronistically, harrying dreams led me to the door of a Jungian analyst in 1988. Under her tutelage, I embraced the rigors of individuation: a risky engagement with my unconscious’ voice expressed in dreams, hunches, significant conversations, or art works. Slowly, the pull of my false self lessoned, giving way to discoveries of values and behaviors more in sync with my emerging self. At times, though, such stripping was awkward, even painful. But more disorders awaited me with the next dream.

As I reflect upon this thirty-year period I’m quietly amazed. I’ve learned to name this voice, Higher Power or God of my understanding. What had begun as a desperate venture has evolved in the actualization of my birthright—this I bring to eternal life, but not before still more work on my shadow before my last breath.


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