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“Hi Liz! So glad we’re meeting this morning. Do come in.” So welcomed Ellen Sheire standing in her doorway, her brown eyes shimmering with light, her amber bangles and earrings complementing her shirtwaist dress. It was March 1988, a humid morning that would launch decades of dream analysis with my new helper, a Jungian-trained analyst. I had nowhere else to go, racked, as I was, by terrifying dreams imaging physical and psychic disorders.

Denial screened the enormity of this undertaking: the complete gut job of my psyche, given its mishmash of others’ values ill-suited to my individuation. With no sense of who I was, with no voice, I was slowly dying.

What was obvious to Ellen those first weeks of dream analysis was my disease of alcoholism. However, denial thwarted entering12-Step recovery and the brownstone across the street until 1991. There, I learned about letting go and letting God, a process that continues into the present.

Interesting that Ellen never sought to fix me, rather midwifed me toward the God-given riches buried within my unconscious. Her tactics were simple: recommended Jungian authors who amplified the elucidation of my dreams each week; travel with Jungian study groups to Sacred sites of the Feminine in western Europe; active imagination with spirit guide Michael for, ten years; memoir writing, once retired; and monthly meetings of the local C. J. Jung Society. Thirty-three loose-leaf binders evidenced the fruitfulness of our relationship.

A woman of selfless joy, Ellen Sheire drew me to her study those Friday mornings from which I emerged with renewed hope, even laughter, to continue this arduous work. My gratitude is boundless.

From this vantage point, I’m deeply content to return this gift of life, with her finger prints, to Creator-God, whenever, however…

 

 

Pilgrimages to numinous sites don’t often make it in the news. It was not always that way.

 

In the sixth century, BC, ailing Greeks sought healing at the shrine of the god Asclepius in Epidaurus. Two centuries later, others seeking to be reborn, followed the Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusis. And still later, Egyptians sought the protection of their falcon god, Horus, on the West Bank of the Nile at Edfu. Hundreds of such sites pepper the globe and are known to you.

 

The magnificence of these sites, still discernible in archeological ruins, speaks of these ancient people and their attraction to the Holy, however experienced: their urgent need for a new paradigm to replace outworn ones; their setting out toward a numinous place, their minimization of hardships, their stripping away of old attitudes, their openness to new learning, and ultimately their psychic transformation.

 

To return to the present …

 

The British author, Rachel Joyce, has woven these same components into her debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2012). Six months into retirement from a brewery, Harold has lost his moorings. Barely speaking with Maureen, his wife, his son David long gone, he waits for the grass to grow around their South Devon home so he can cut it. One April morning, however, Harold receives a pink typed note from Queenie Hennessey, a former accountant who had worked with him, now dying of cancer in a hospice, five hundred miles way in the North of England. He is moved to tears. At first, he jots a quick response to Queenie, but on his way to post it, decides to walk to her bedside. He must see her. He takes off. No matter that he’s only wearing yachting shoes and a windbreaker, his debit card in his back pocket. His three-month walk follows, one that unravels his troubled past and opens him and Maureen to the remaining years of their marriage. The hilarity of their youth returns.

 

Another moving read for the New Year! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Available on Amazon

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