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At 4 A.M, this disturbing dream awoke me; it seemed to continue until 6:50 A.M. when I climbed out of bed to record it:

I was sitting in the locked ward of the day room of an old psychiatric hospital. The poorly groomed patients wore faded gowns that tied in the back, their feet bare. The staff was rowdy, handled them rough, especially when administering injections or medications, or subduing them in four-point restraints. The noise was deafening. I’m not sure why I was there. The morning wore on. Then, Father Reinert, the Jesuit President of St. Louis University, was let into the day room where with a sorrowful look he signed the Guest Book with a large black fountain pen.

Such upheaval in my psyche suggests the insanity of profound disorientation: despair, drugged violence, lack of focus and voice, and lack of body awareness. Extreme poverty assigns them as wards of the already impoverished state. Their caregivers hate their duties but see no way to better themselves. Like flotsam floating atop oceans, there is no communication.

The flap of two of my caregivers may have given rise to this dream and my needless dependence upon them, especially since I am managing without them.

Indeed, my psyche also bore the smells of that setting that resembled the old St. Louis State Psychiatrist Hospital on Arsenal Street, my 1983 assignment for my ACPE training in chaplaincy. In both that summer experience and the dream, the challenge is to recognize my internal mayhem lest it infect others and impede the trajectory of my end-times.

The presence of Father Reinert, the Jesuit President of St. Louis University, in the day room was a surprise, given his habitual cheerfulness. Perhaps he was coming to see me. I need guidance.

Be still and know that I am God.

So proclaimed the psalmist, an imperative directed toward centuries of warring factions, both within and without. What is there about the human spirit, so easily impaled upon conflict, so easily seduced by Evil’s allurements that appear all powerful, the ultimate in satisfaction?

In our time, another unbridled war escalates in Ukraine with the murderous Russian offensive, twelve days old. Terror breeds more terror. Madness sours perspective. Blood stains once-manicured streets. Flurries of “We’ve got to do something!” fill the media like Icelandic blizzards crippling its cities.

Yet, another Voice compels our full attention. Be still. Substantial life-change is at stake and we know it. Naked, trembling, we stretch into our psyches and release our own trigger fingers, yield our recalcitrant wills, unravel murderous distortions, and unclench fists. In the process, we come to Know that I am God.

Indeed, this is a solitary war, even more critical than Ukraine’s, the sweaty business of engagement and retreat, of binding up wounds and receiving new ones, of regrouping until learning to walk anew, upright in spirit.

The spirituality of the Twelve-step Recovery puts out psychic fires around the world. Its practice continues helping me.

Yes, as the rain and the snow come from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the Word that goes from my mouth does not return empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in which it was sent to do.

So proclaims Isaiah 55:10

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