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At 4:45 A.M., I awoke with this dream of my mother:

My mother has been admitted to the Women’s Ward at the St. Louis Psychiatric Hospital and I go to visit her. I tell the guard my mother’s name, Mary E. Moloney, and several times, I hear her name called, echoing crazily upon the Old World marble interior as I walk.

This dream, from the personal unconscious, teaches much.

The repetition of Mary E. Moloney, in loud tones, over the intercom unnerved me. It’s my name, as well, despite my never having internalized it; only upon legal and business documents does it appear. Could this be another wake-up call? 

The first occurred after Mother’s funeral, standing at the Moloney graveside at Calvary Cemetery. My eyes fixated upon the small plate soldered to the side of the steel vault intended for her coffin: in raised gold letters, it read: “Mary E. Moloney – 1909-2008.” I was stunned; then hollowed—Had I had ever lived my own life? She was now gone. No other Mary E. Moloney lived that I knew of. I had the remainder of my life to claim my real name—This, I am doing in the time allotted me.

So the dream opens me to the richness of my name, Mary E. Moloney, integral to my birthright and grounds for profound thanks to Mother and Creator God.

“For the first time, I’ve seen his face—from yesterday’s ultra-sound,” she said, rushing into my kitchen, deep laughter roiling her three-trimester belly. Her brown eyes fired like sparklers on a hot summer night as she pointed to the films on the counter. “Look, there’s his nose, somewhat squished, but there it is. His eyes, blinking…” Then knowing hands smoothed her unborn son beneath her grey T-shirt, a loving gesture I’d experienced the last five months of receiving her help. “And just three more weeks until his due date—time for him to practice using his body before delivery. He’s all there.”

It had been an unusual five months of sharing, a vital learning experience for me. Never had I been so close to a pregnant woman as her unborn baby developed. And my helper, was also a registered nurse. Cheerfulness ballooned her spirit and countered anxiety, belly-kicks and sleepless nights, dietary changes, hydration, awkwardness, and diminished energy. Her long brunette ponytail was tied up in a knot as she prepared and served meals, looked after my bungalow, and took phone messages.

However, last night’s significant contractions warranted a trip to the hospital. My prayer for her safe delivery and son filled the night, only to be upended by this morning’s call. “I was only seven centimeters, so they sent me home. I hope to go back soon.”—Certainly a major reversal, but no complaints.

It seems to me that Hezekiah wants to see his laughing mother’s face. He will come.

Oh mother! You should go out and see!
There’s never been such a sky.


Hanging over our roof,
there is a star as large as a window;
and the star has a tail, and it moves
across the sky like a chariot on fire.

So sings Amahl, the crippled boy, to his widowed mother in the opening scene of Gian Carlo-Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951). The star sets this one-act opera into motion: it fires the boy’s imagination and dramatically alters his mother’s impoverished world; and it compels Three Kings to abandon their charts in foreign lands and seek shelter from winter’s cold in the widow’s hut.

As the story unfolds, we learn from Melchior about another child, the one they seek,


the color of wheat…
the color of dawn
His eyes are mild; his hands are those of a king
– as king he was born.

Incense, myrrh, and gold we bring to his side;
and the eastern star is our guide.

 I, too, am looking for the Child. I, too, follow the crystal star, one day/night at a time.

Within its scintillation appears the guidance I seek, now that my terminal illness seems to be at a standstill: new limits form the boundaries of my known world. But in the in betweenness of things, change is happening. That, I do know. Like Amahl’s and his mother’s ongoing transformation, I remain content, my trust fixed upon the night sky for the next suggestion.


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