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At 2 A.M., a recurring dream woke me:

It is Sunday afternoon, the sky clear. Earlier, I had parked my Toyota on the corner of Lindell Boulevard, largely empty of cars. After I unlocked my car and positioned myself in the driver’s seat, I turned on the ignition and placed the gear in reverse. Slowly, I accelerated. From the right fender came scraping noises. Rather than stop and investigate the source of the problem, I continued heading toward home.

 At 8 A. M., I woke with this dream:

Exhausted, lethargic, brain-fogged, I request spiritual direction from Mother Schroen, the Mistress of Novices. I wish to leave the noviceship. When others did so, I felt the pull to do, as well. The morning of the appointment, I arrive at the bathroom, the indicated place for the meeting. I’ve a great need to urinate, but the water level in the toilet bowl is too high. If flushed, it would overflow and I wouldn’t know what to do. No sign of Mother.

Both dreams address deep-seated, obsessive fears in my psyche. True, during waking hours, I monitor my overall functioning, making necessary adjustments for shortness of breath, weakness, and dizziness when still under the side effect of Dexamethasone. But my Dreamer spins other scenarios, closer to the actual truth for my continual spiritual awakening—manifest through the practice of the Twelve Steps.

CPA’s Step One counters my unmanageability by reminding me of the powerlessness of my terminal disease. Let go and let things be as they are. In Step Two, I deepen my faith in Higher Power’s will to restore me to wholeness. And in Step Three, I again surrender my life and will to Higher Power’s plan for me, despite recurring impatience. Then in Step Seven, I humbly ask for release of the obsession.

 It works, until the next relapse.

At 2:00 A.M., I awoke with a strong impression of Vietnam, with no accompanying dream story.

Instead, a flood of images converged in its wake: anti-war demonstrations, President Johnson and his advisors in the Oval office, TV coverage of guerilla warfare with casualties, the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. withdrawal from the conflict, the horrific stories that followed, the 1975 unification of Vietnam, bloodied by thirty years of killing.

So the question remains, what does Vietnam say to me now?

A brief YouTube of this country reveals an impoverishment of spirit with unconscious war scars, an aping of Western ways, and an enslavement to Communism. Lost in the dust of centuries is its identity as a people with its dynasties, its Buddhism temples, and its skirmishes with China.

Certainly, I own my self-imposed impoverishment: violence, confusion, need to please others, and skewed perceptions that I still deal with in Chronic Pain Anonymous. But I shudder to think of the bleeding remnants, still hidden within the recesses of my unconscious.

With God’s help, I’ve come this far. The challenge is to continue mining my dreams for more hints of such disorders and Twelve-Step them away, one day at a time. So I pray for healing…



Plank! Plank! Plankkk! Plunkkk!

I still remembered how it was, the tension in my shoulders softening into pastel squiggles on holiday.

Again, I heard them, only more distinct. Plonk! Plonkk! Plink! My heart quickened. Down the wide steps, I flew, passing the Linnaeus house, skirting raised flowerbeds and withered grasses—still wintering, then pausing before the bronze sculpture of fish reflected in the pool. I was alone, my breath strewn about by winds with hiccoughs.



Plankkk! Plunk! Plink! They’re getting closer. Ahead of me, the weathered gazebo invited respite, but not that day. I’d come for the performance, and I was never disappointed.

Ahead of me, the granitoid walk turned the corner and I, with it.

To my right was the granddaddy of wind chimes. I stopped, then focused upon this towering array of handcrafted bronze chimes, each design unique. To reassure me of its presence, I gentled my fingers over a lower chime, hooded and cold, an ivy traced around its circumference, then struck the clapper hung from its chain: Plink! Plink! Vibrations strangely fired my inner core, then left me within soothing colors. Then, relaxed upon the bench, I let the winds compose and play the morning’s offering. The hoped-for communion always happened.



Thus prepared, I walked the perimeter of the Missouri Botanical Garden and felt its wiggle-room of life impinging my senses. There would be spring.

Frequent excursions into such vistas helped formulate my Creator God, nurturing me from season to season, as well. I’ve been wintering for some time…


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