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Like bats, their wings compressed, clinging to ceilings of caves, copper leaves pose naked upon stringy branches of my London plane tree—their indecision severe whether to hold on or to let go. Occasional whisper-breezes interrupt their pondering, their listless pirouetting of pointed toes, but still the leaves hang. Most have already dropped, with additional shriveling and tearing and dismemberment.

The lesson is obvious.

At 7:30 A.M., I awoke with this surprising dream:

I’m sitting in my living room, still wearing my gown and robe, my morning care interrupted by Tootsie who wears a T-shirt and shorts and sits on the sofa across from me. She laughs deeply as she explains her knee-length cast, its back attached to a board with large wheels that helps her walk.

The dream’s surprise visitor, Tootsie, was a nun like myself, with whom I had lived in New Orleans in the 1960s. Long deceased, I’d not thought of her in years, but her hilarity still hangs out in my psyche. In the work of Dr. Carl G. Jung, she becomes my extraverted shadow: a reminder not to take myself so seriously, given my nagging symptoms.

There is laughter, merriment, long hidden beneath years of diminishing health and my efforts to keep up with my interests. Not always strong enough to give them expression, I’m still tickled within.

In my psyche, a lightness of spirit delves into the God-care that surrounds us. As the Tootsie in my dream, I’m nudged toward an even deeper surrender to my eternal destiny, beyond all imagining, no more living within the constraints of time. It will happen; that said, the Inner Vanquisher has no business with me.

It’s happened again outside my study window: November’s sunshine revealed the initial stripping of my lilac bush, its mottled leaves aproning its base. Yesterday’s gloom had shrouded its lopsided girth, its leaves still holding on like disgruntled dowagers still plucking their eyebrows. Only nail-hard buds tip each branch, with promise of new greening. 

Like the leaves on my lilac bush, I’m being hurtled toward winter, with its with browns, grays, and blacks supplanting autumn’s riotous display of reds and golds. Less daylight, like a vintage camera, will snap short the bug-eaten colors in spent gardens.

As days pass, the cold will tighten its icy tourniquet around flailing energies, shiver steps of dog-walkers, and coat trees and shrubs with filigree caverns and glistening angles. 

More darkness, stealthy as a thief, will snuff out the waning light and plunge us within an electrified world, its artificiality short-changing our perceptions of things.

But there’s a mysterious richness in darkness—an invitation to listen to its silence and be still within the present moment. Like a downy comforter, let it open your imagination, cell by cell, to its cheery warmth, to unseen realms filled with fresh color—they are there.

In the interim, though, my lilac bush will continue dropping its leaves to the bleached grasses below, giving even more prominence to its buds; unlike them, though, I wait for a different kind of spring where the colors never fade—It could take longer than five months.

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