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 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.

from the penitential Psalm 51:10-13

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.

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