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It had been one month, then, one week, now only four days before New Year’s Eve, with its frantic preparations for get-togethers or travel, with its review and planning for 2022. It feels like hurtling through time, with nothing substantial for support. Gossamer strands, multicolored like candy canes, tickle imaginations, tumble words, and befuddle days of the week. What ever happened to 2021?

Standing below a maple, its nakedness articulated against the blue sky, I’ve heard myself say, let’s snapshot this, tuck it away in memory. So beautiful! Like nothing I’ve seen before! Yet, however strong the impression, it’s lost within the recesses of my psyche, perhaps to be savored in a later dream.

I feel this way toward the old lilac shrub outside my study window. In what seems like a slit second, it has displayed its full cycle of budding, of splitting greenery, of heady blossoms morphing into tissue-paper browning, of killing winds stripping the bug-eaten leaves, leaving winter’s dormant presence. Each snapshot of the shrub’s cycle nudged Creator God in my depths; they are all there.

Such transformation speaks of my own that manifests in dreams, prayer, and other “O!” moments, even words that surface from my word processor, realm of my Inner Writer.

So, all of life is energized by the Sacred and through course corrections, both sweet and bitter, keeps everything cycling through its growth and diminishment and regrowth—everything in good order. 

Now on the down side of life, I still offer thanks for what is left, despite time’s curlicues.

At 3:30 A. M., I awoke with this affirming dream:

Inside a mirrored practice room, I watch a large number of black girls, ranging in age from two to about thirteen years old, wearing black leotards and tights, and working with their teachers. A gentle spirit pervades the room.

This harmonious glimpse into my psyche affirms present self-care practices as I continue moving through my end time. The mirrored practice room suggests a significant venue for learning, with multiple mirrors reflecting mistakes for correction, as well as mastery of new routines for affirmation. I liken this venue to the feedback I receive from my circle of helpers attentive to my needs as my functioning diminishes, ever so slowly.

The dream’s black girls, symbolic of youthfulness, focus, and commitment speak to my willingness to learn each day’s limits and to participate in whatever evolves, through the practice of the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous. The mastery of new skills, in the face of diminishment, speak to my reliance upon Higher Power, the Master Teacher.  

The influence of the gentle spirit speaks to this Presence, continually at work in my psyche. Too long have I lived in the half-light of Life. With my days limited, I seek new willingness to spirit my steps in accord with cues streaming from my psyche; this requires deep listening and obedience of the heart.

October’s whispers, subtle and unobtrusive, drop clues of gardens’ metamorphosis: drooping purple cone flowers having had too much sun; sagging lamb’s ears losing their springiness; yellowing edges of hostas collapsing on the ground; browning of once lavender sedum blooms sagging over ceramic pots; black-eyed susans and sunflowers bereft of seeded centers; sparse knockout roses clinging to nearly-bare branches; and clumps of yellow and white mums boasting hardiness into November. Annuals have already been dug up, their colors having brightened passersby.

Upon these same whispers also float changes in shrubs: red berries cresting drooping dogwood leaves, yellowness creeping up forsythia branches, gray-greenness puckering lilac leaves, blushing berries clustering on branches of Christmas hollys, evergreens spitting pine cones on walkways, London plane tree’s bark hardening before the onset of winter’s thievery, lackluster leaves on viburnums grieving the approaching cold, and so much more.

Such perennials have to die, but with proper care return each spring. 

And with these changes also appear boisterous Jack-o-lanterns, gourds of yellows, oranges, whites, and greens, ornamental cauliflower heads, broomstick-riding witches, ghosts, skeletons, werewolves—prelude to Halloween’s deepening darkness and meditation, if so moved.

Whether it’s October’s whispers or shrieks, we’re invited to take stock of this strange beauty and listen. No October is like any other.

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