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In my perception, Covid-19 widens its killing swath across the global spirit and the global economy, and provokes global social unrest to the point of violence. No one is free from its sting. The usual distractions, such as entertainment, mood-altering drugs, and other numbing habits, thin in their former effectiveness to distance human suffering. It’s always been around. Yet, the pandemic affords deeper psycho-spiritual growth than ever before.

Such gifts, albeit it strange, can be accessed through reflection upon the ongoing crucifixion of the Cosmic Christ. Only He knows the depth of our grief and shares its fluctuations. Only in Him can such upheavals be tolerated.

Our creatureliness calls for respite, for comfort, for communion as we pray, Passion of Christ, strengthen us.

He does, in the next breath we take.

I woke with this dream feathering my imagination:

It is breakfast, in a large monastic refectory filled with hundreds of nuns. I sit among them, within a service set for four. A sense of uneasiness disturbs the rule of silence as a novice passes me the bowl of oranges. It looks like they’re frozen. I, too, grouse under my breath. Whatever their condition, I must take one; not to, would be an infringement against religious spirit and grounds for a penance. As I slice open my orange, I’m delighted by its juiciness and rich color. I lick my fingers, careful not to soil my cap.

 The dream plummeted me back to the noviceship and fifteen-minute breakfasts in the gray-painted basement-level refectory filled with rows of linoleum-covered tables and benches. When oranges were served, I stressed: peeling took time away from eating the cold cereal and buttered roll. If the superior rang the bell before I finished, I had to stand at my place and clean my plate while others rushed into their orders of day.

That “challenge” dogged me the five years I spent there.

But back to the dream’s message: its call to modify the regime of my liminal space that feels like formation when a novice—perhaps introduce more novel reading to sharpen my writerly skills or to sit outdoors in the sun.

Of equal importance is the dream’s reminder of how I used to internalize others’ speech, choices, and attitudes because of having low to no energy to do my own work. However, decades of dream work led me from that nightmare and into my individuation. For the most part, I no longer participate in the herd mentality, but when I do, it’s called a slip in CPA: indication of inauthentic living. In my present circumstances, I can ill afford many of them.

And even in the tightest of circumstances, Higher Power still gifts me with “juicy oranges.” Especially is this true in the gift of subjects for my daily blogs from which I continue learning. I’m grateful.

 

Trick or treaters, masked as princesses, pirates, ghouls, inflated by assumed identities, will again canvas our neighborhoods this Halloween. Winds will nip ankles, flit crisped leaves across lawns beneath a waning full moon. The drama, the hilarity will deepen.

Perhaps you have also donned a mask for such haunts when a kid or for Mardi Gras carnivals? Perhaps experienced masked performers in a play or ritual performances of native peoples? Or worn masks for protection or disguise?

You are not alone. Peoples from cultures all over the world have donned masks for such purposes. The oldest one, made of stone, dates back to 7000 B.C., the pre-ceramic Neolithic period; it is kept in the Bible and Holy Land Museum in Paris, France.

But there is another way of considering masks.

As children growing up in troubled families, we can develop masks or defense mechanisms that can later thwart significant relationships in family and work. A gnawing emptiness results. Nothing is significant. Addictive behaviors soon follow. Some visit the consulting rooms of psychologists or other helpers and begin the painful process of owning their self-constructed masks and learning to discard them.  Perhaps for the first time in their lives, they experience their spiritual center and live from this Source. They thrive, at whatever age.

I know. I’ve been through this process. And here is the result – I keep it in my study!

 

 

 

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