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Daily adherence to my routine of self-care, basically unchanged since last March, convinces me that countless prayer supports this uncharted journey in which I’m largely content. My gratitude soars, my new learning challenges and enriches, my diminishments, especially my silvery-white wavy hair, a surprise. And with these changes, I’ve scraped free the outer Liz that no longer works, reminding me of the transparent skin of a garden snake I discovered in my front garden, years ago; its owner, freshly gone.  

But there are interludes of transient pain, clothes that no longer fit, phone calls from solicitors, tiring conversation from visitors. At times, meals lose their taste, fatigue chokes my spirit, and my dry eyes burn, even with Refresh. At other times, noisy motorcycles roar past my bungalow, delivery trucks inch past parked cars, and lawn mowers manicure yards already trimmed.

And occasional exposure to the global news confounds me even deeper and jettisons me into prayer, especially for growing families. And even August colors sigh with inevitable change—the marigolds in my flower beds straggle with blackened leaves.

When yanked away from what I want, I resort to Jesus’s teaching in Luke 12:19:

I’ve come to cast fire upon the earth and I wish it were blazing already.

This same gentle fire informs both Gospel and Twelve Step living and restores my acceptance of “Life on life’s terms” until the next downer. This is how the gentle fire works. It always does.

At 3 A.M., I awoke to this surprising dream:

It is night. Ellen Sheire, my former Jungian analyst, invited me to join a conference in a foreign city, attended by the most evolved individuals in the world. Dialogue, not discussion, would be the manner of discourse to address seemingly insoluble problems.  

In the dream, the night suggests the waning of time and opportunity for change, an apt stricture that surrounds me as I move through each twenty-four hours, homebound. Yet, fresh learning continues seeping through my dreams, my prayer and meditation, and dialogue with my CPA sponsor. 

I do not see Ellen Sheire, my former Jungian analyst, in reality, a Zurich-trained practitioner in Vienna, Austria, and in St. Louis, Missouri, now retired, but her invitation in the dream intrigues me. During my work with her in the 1990s, she had urged me to join Jungian tours to prehistoric Sacred places in Europe and to delve onto their mythologies. In this morning’s dream, there’s another such invitation and I’m eager to participate.

The foreign city suggests a place of unfamiliarity with the history and terrain, strangeness of customs, confusion of languages; its advanced technology replete with untried paradigms.

I am alone as I listen to the expertise of the conferees surrounding me. From within fruitful silence emerges fresh ways of considering what it means to be a person in relationship.

Despite the novelty of expression, the primacy of love remains critical.

I still have much to learn, and my inner teachers are enthusiastic for my new willingness. It is still night—No signs of dawn and cessation.

Days of slikkery rain sheened the hand-sized leaves of the London Plane tree outside my kitchen window, even more haunting in its post-dusk grayness. Its somber tone spoke to gloom, to the lethargy of inner canyons of depression—my hangout within the consciousness of daylight.

My terminal illness weights my spirit, confines my feet in leaden boots, and moans for release, but there is none, save sleep, with “the cocktail.” But even there, troubling dreams abound that seem unrelated to any experience that I’ve had or read about.

Such interludes characterize the dark night of the soul when the Sacred feels painfully absent, when abandonment to isolated ash-pits tastes grainy, the “dessert” of fruitlessness.

It only occurred to me yesterday to begin writing of this experience: in faith, know that the Sacred is never closer to the sufferer confined to inexplicable darkness. Purification is what the mystics call it, and no one is free from it.

Release from such psychic-scraping does occur, its duration, though, unknown. Only through endurance does spiritual growth occur, and that’s the point of experiencing plant earth.

With the Psalmist, I often cry, “Create, O God, a clean heart within me.” On my own, this is impossible—so often referenced in this blog.

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