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At 7:05 A.M., I awoke with this unsettling dream, unusual because of a long period of no recall:

It is Sunday. Night darkens the conference complex where a large number of mixed adolescents have been spending the weekend. Because they’ve had no exposure to sexuality in textbooks or experience, teachers inform them. As days pass, the adolescents have become unruly: seamy jokes, scurrilous laughter, and throwing food. Any display of authority is met with snickers. I’m concerned if there will be sufficient time to clean up the complex before the scheduled arrival of another group.

In the dream, I work in maintenance, strong and healthy in my uniform. Both night and Sunday suggest endings: of the day and of the weekend; their implications, though, speak to my end-time of eighty-six years, a long time to live.

The conference complex suggests the setting in my psyche, designated for learning that poses daily challenges. In the dream, though, it’s besmirched by the adolescents up-ended by the presentations. Many want to experiment, in full view of all. Such displays the inner turmoil in my unconscious, roused, perhaps, by yesterday’s felt terror of my death. Even that moment was too much.

The dream concludes with stress roused by the Herculean task of restoring the conference complex in a few days for another group. I feel similarly with the task still lurking in my psyche. On the surface, all appears in order, but this is not so.

This is where Precious God comes in …

Mildred, 83 years old, loner in dusty bungalow. From her heart spewed nastiness: “I put my daughter-in-law’s picture in the shit house where she belongs!” Each defecation renewed the enmity. Twinkle Toes, her double-footed cat, fondled her flip-flops.

Ann, 84 years old, born in the projects. Years of scrubbing dulled yearnings. The shock in the mirror: “My hair is white!” Intruder-killer infected her lungs.

Sarah, 85 years old, Scottish spinster in ground floor apartment. Hilarious storyteller. Shock of white hair matched the wildness in her eyes. Menial work around city neighborhoods toughened her feet. Ulcerated now, they restrict her movements from bed to commode to chair. Friends still knock on her door.

Juanita, 74 years old, matriarch in son’s bedroom, frozen in recesses of atrophied brain.

Swollen eyes resembled the sorrowing mother. G-tube feedings ballooned her dark frame propped upon pillows. Her extended family watched television.

Marie, 77 years old, chameleon in duplex. Spent, she had lived within the will of her mate. Like a flitting moth, she sought rest, but there was none. Catalepsy crippled her body-soul, listing to the right.

Vivian, 61 years old, victim in handicapped apartment. Mousy hair pulled from temples spooked hooded eyes. Safety-pinned sweaters warmed her stone-heart. Soul illness infected her joints, precipitated seizures. She sat in her chair.

Mildred-Ann-Sarah-Juanita-Marie-Vivian, Home Care Patients I’ve known from the 1990s, limped through end time, the dross of their spent lives purified within God’s emptiness, encircling them with blessing.

I pray the same for myself.

It happened again in my barren flower bed: through heaps of graying mulch resembling a ghost town with abandoned mine shafts emerged the solitary gold crocus, its glossy petals yearning for the sun, its striped blades greening in March breezes.

What is unique about this blooming is its recurrence, in the same place, for the past nine years, thwarting winter’s bite and jumpstarting spring’s promise.

Ecstatic by the splash of fresh color, gladness peaks, and I give thanks. 

If Creator God enlivens this solitary gold crocus, year after year…

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