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At 6:20 A.M., I woke with this dream:

It is evening service at the black church I’ve been attending, at the invitation of the pastor and his wife. Again, I’m greeted and enter the fellowship filled with hymns and prayer. Other than occasional constipation, I am well. The pastor, also a physician, will perform a proctologic exam in his office in the morning. Having had one before, I’m anxious.

The vibrant setting of this dream, the evening service at the black church, opens my psyche to hidden disorders that require identification and correction. The occasional constipation keeps my body/mind starved of vital nutrients, dulls my perceptions, and dumps me within the morass of sloth: Why bother?

The pastor bridges the gap between God’s presence and the worshipers in his black church: such engagement restores disorders that sludge human interactions and quickens spirits into living flames. On my own, I’m powerless to achieve the wholeness to which I aspire.

Yet, I’m anxious. Given my long-standing pride, it’s painful to admit my arrogance and willfulness, smirches upon my character for all to behold. For much of my life, pretense kept such disorders at bay; whenever aware of them, I barely nodded at their toxicity.

Since working the Twelve Steps in Recovery, however, such disclosures become frequent cries to Higher Power to effect the necessary changes. This is precisely the task of spirituality.

With the afflicted Job (10:6), I identify with his cry to God: You must search out my faults and probe after my sin. Such purification works: It’s about becoming humble and serving others.

At 6 AM., I awoke with this dream:

I’m alone, content. I put my whole heart into singing lullabies until I no longer recall the next verse. Then, I recite nursery rhymes that I remember; their melodies and rhythms and repetitions tinkle, within, like my neighbor’s wind chimes.

A soothing dream, its story is unlike any I’ve experienced. I appear well, having sufficient breath to support both singing and reciting; their rhythms and repetitions lighten and enlarge my world. My bloodshot eyes smile, unlike my usual glum look when alone.

Within my psyche exists a caregiver, intent upon helping me befriend my terminally ill body and relax into each moment, despite death’s shortening them—A unique time in my life, I can only do this once.

But there was a time when I had belted out “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” marveling how the nursery rhyme echoed off the walls of my study. My Pilates coach recommended this practice to increase the stamina and volume in my speech. It worked for a while until, too fatigued, I stopped. 

However, the gift of this morning’s dream implanted these nurturing ditties within my unconscious and reminds to pull one of them out whenever overwhelmed—Like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” reminding me to gently pull for my body needs and access Higher Power’s grace for the next challenge. After all, it’s only a stream…

“Who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15

Such a question I pose to myself after reflecting upon Jesus’s humble ride upon the colt of an ass into Jerusalem that hot Passover morning—A stunning question that lays open my heart. It seems like he’s always been with me.

True, meditation, scripture studies, retreats, recovery meetings, and conversation with others have fanned my response for decades, but it’s the experience of Jesus of Nazareth that lasts: one that speaks wordless love and mercy, not without scrambling my words. He just is.

When absent, loneliness sets in like bats flitting through vaulted caves. Yet, with Jesus’s return, longing burns anew.

It wasn’t always like this, often sidetracked by instinctual demands for easier and softer ways of doing life, despite its inherent hardships. Such waywardness produced even more misery that worsened my chronic illness and joint pain. Recognizing gospel teachings within the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has made all the difference, grounding me, afresh, within Jesus for another twenty-four hours.

And living with terminal illness has deepened this focus. With months slipping into years, it can’t be much longer. Then we shall see face to face. I Cor. 13:12.

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