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This morning, two dreams stirred my psyche:

At 2:15 A.M. – A very old nun whose influence touched many lives has just died in her convent infirmary. It is midnight. Crews of professionals carrying their gear climb the stairs to her room and begin working on her remains. Others sit around her writing table and compose her obituary for the newspaper; another writes for literary journals. Bright fixtures cast a garish light upon this scene.

In the wake of this dream, pain crimped my breathing. The busyness of professionals fulfilling their respective roles angered me; their chatter screened feelings toward the deceased, a venerable old nun in my perception. The lighting seemed vulgar, obliterating shadows better served for viewing the deceased in her hospital bed. Yet, the dream’s noxious attitudes revealed deeper truth about my own passing. True, I’ve been blogging my hospice experience, now in its seventh month, seemingly open to the demise of my body—In my head, perhaps so; but in my body …?

And at 5 A.M. – I’m seated in a large classroom with other students, awaiting exams on the English poet we studied, our black folders stacked upon the professor’s desk. My folder, unlike the others, bulges with additional research on this poet’s striking images and meter. I had intended to remove my material before handing it in, but forgot. As the professor begins passing the exams, I leave my desk and retrieve my material.

The next dream suggests a time for testing. Unlike an examination for completed coursework, this one scrutinizes the mettle of our flawed humanness at life’s end. In biblical language, it’s called the last judgment. Somewhere lodged in the shadows of my psyche will be its unfolding. I dread the experience, given my sensitivity. But in the dream I’ve produced more material than was prescribed by the professor—perhaps a ploy to manipulate the outcome of the test.

To all of this, I cry “Mercy!”

 

This is what I will tell my heart, and so recover hope: the favors of Yahweh are not all passed, his kindnesses are not exhausted. They are renewed every morning. Lamentations 3:21-22

We will never know who inserted these prophetic words into the Third Lamentation, with its heart rendering images: Jerusalem’s desolation at the hands of the Chaldeans, the spoliation of the Temple, and the exile and starvation of its people that occurred in 587 B.C.E. But this shift in tone bespeaks awareness of sin, compunction of heart, a need for forgiveness, and memory of Yahweh’s former graciousness.

And later in Third Lamentation we hear, Yahweh, I called on your name from the pit… crying…You came near that day…and said, “Do not be afraid.”

Such prophetic texts like those in the Book of Lamentations still bolster flagging spirits and offer insight into the mystery of iniquity. As dastardly as it appears, its stinking offal is not what it seems: its admission restores us to the fullness of Life, even now.

Steeped in pitfalls of my humanness for long decades, I find myself like the Jews, familiar with misery…in darkness, and without any light. But such psychic bottoms break apart with grace, freely given and received, together with the invitation to give thanks for yet another deliverance through CPA’s Steps VI and VII.

So morning’s light streams into darkness: It reconfigures bones, brilliances psyches, and romps with hope into the next moment.

 

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