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At 7:25 A.M., I awoke with this disturbing dream:

I drive my car to the Visiting Nurses Association, a complex of many buildings, for my day of orientation. I discover Valet Parking at the main entrance, and an employee hands me a claim ticket in exchange for my keys. The day passes with new learning of my responsibilities. Then, I find my way to what I thought was the main entrance to pick up my car and return home. However, I am lost and no one is around to ask for help. I’ll have to walk. I’m angry as I finger my claim ticket.

In the dream I’m still healthy, still driving, still working, but that’s not what’s going on. It’s about my car, a symbol that used to carry my body from place to place. Having worked with the Visiting Nurses Association in the past, I deem it appropriate to return there to learn new interventions for my ailing lungs. I’m in control or so I think I am.

The employee with Valet Parking, perhaps God in disguise, welcomes me, and hands me a claim ticket in exchange for my keys. Still thinking I’m in control, I go about my business, to my satisfaction. Later, I look forward to an evening of relaxation as I seek the main entrance and the retrieval of my car. I’m lost, alone, with no one to help me, a condition that engulfs me when not in conscious contact with God. My anger mounts. All I have is the claim ticket for a new body/car to be received after my transition.

Reduced to walking for the present, I clutch the claim ticket. Anger burns in my psyche.  I grieve.

It seems like The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (2019) surfaced from the unconscious of Charlie Mackesy and left tracks of the Sacred upon my psyche. Years of professional writing, painting, and illustrating merge within this whimsical tale and enliven seekers; its twelve translations, its mini-adventure film in the making, its audio-book, its vinyl recording, its prints and posters, its study groups illumine another way of relating with others. Mackesy can do this because he’s a humble man. He’s been there.

The stark simplicity of Mackesy’s words interfacing his pin-and-ink sketches with occasional watercolors, serve to brighten four questing spirits: the boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse, each of them replete with symbolism. The ensuing dialogues, tinged with humor, feels like the gracious Voice of the Sacred almost giggling, because of finally being heard. Toward the book’s beginning, we find such a turn-around:

What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the mole.

Kind,” said the boy.

Of little avail, is the Voice experienced in its usual sources, long discarded as irrelevant, but Mackesy’s message is the same.

Other outstanding features in this book include cursive writing rather than print, occasional blank pages for the reader to further reflect upon the import of what was just shared, and no pagination—one place is as good as another to start: Heartwarming wisdom is handsomely displayed within tracings of great trees and lakes and skies. Life can be fun in working relationships.

 The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse finds a resonance within anyone of any age and life circumstances. Its message to me is: You’re loved and always have been. Smile!

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

It is August, the evening of my arrival at the Eastern Point Retreat House for my eight-day directed retreat. Animated conversations of other retreatants draw me to the dining room for buffet supper. I search among them for my friend Pat, but she has not yet arrived. I’m concerned. Winds sweep dense levels of humidity from the Atlantic’s surface that borders the complex. I feel clammy, heavy.

At first, the dream’s setting, EPRH, thrilled me, the Jesuit retreat house that I had frequented for decades at Gloucester, Massachusetts. Profound spiritual cleansings had buoyed my spirit, until home for a while; and the emergence of entrenched habits resumed their former dominance.  

Then, I looked deeper into my psyche: Animated conversations of other retreatants exposedthe seepage of inner chatter, warring against my practice of meditation and spiritual reading that blocks “conscious contact” with Higher Power. This had been true at Gloucester, as well; only within its silence could I settle down to fully engage in its critical work, guided by my director.

In my present circumstances, I yearn for the same depth of silence in my psyche. This is not happening as much as I would like. I feel clammy, heavy. My body has never died before and I need guidance in prayer and from other spiritually minded persons. Yet, control still has mastery, despite my practice of CPA’s Twelve Steps; though, such sparring does yield spiritual growth. Time is of the essence.

In the dream I also noted anxiety over the absence of my friend, as if unable to surrender to the grace of the retreat that necessitates psychic change. This image speaks to existential loneliness, casting me adrift in powerlessness. Therein, I eventually find my God who companions me through end time. No one else can serve this purpose.

So I plod along, one day at a time …

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