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At 7:10 A. M., I awoke with this dream of laughter:

I have joined a small mixed group of retreatants for a weekend of prayer and meditation in the forest, the sounds of the river, nearby, humming with frogs, insects, and badgers. One of the women cannot contain her laughter most of the time we are together; at any moment her blue eyes giggle, her toothy grin sets off anyone near her, even the director. It is now Sunday evening and the time for departure has come. No one wants to leave here.

In the dream the small mixed group of retreatants recalls my annual Gloucester retreat; though silent, its camaraderie warmed everyone’s spirits, with our sinfulness dissolved in recognition of our foolishness and lightened by tears and laughter.

The forest, the dream’s setting, suggests an unknown place filled with challenges that scour the insides of honesty. Change is demanded. No one frequents such a place without being forewarned of its dangers. And the river is critical for deep psychic cleansing.

One of the women sets the tone for this retreat, like none I’ve ever attended. Her perspective on life differs from those around her, and from her depths emanates an authority supporting her sense of humor and inviting participation. So compelling her range of light-some sounds that no one can long resist. Initial hesitancy crumbles like week-old cake with discolored icing. Hearts, long moth-balled in dank attics, expand and dress in the new clothing of relationships. What was a prickly group has become a community with meaningful ties, ribboned with colorful laughter of many tones. No one wants to leave here.

My takeaway from this dream is to excavate my humor, long buried beneath the woes of transition work. I’m not the only human being ever to lose her body.

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