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Outside my study window, a robin alighted upon the still wintry appearance of a branch, caught by April’s tag with the sun, then was gone. Unlike signs of other leafing shrubs, this one feels shivery with indecision, its scraggy impression resembling a cluttered attic. Yet, upon closer inspection, a few small slender buds point toward the sky; the color, still to come.

The experience reminds me of Isaiah’s prophecy:

Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?

Intended for exiled Israelites under the Babylonians, soon to be freed in 539 BCE, the text still carries fresh power. The new thing fires the imagination and excites creativity, looks beyond the humdrum, and inhales vistas yet to be explored. But the even greater challenge is to recognize the new thing when it comes.

Memories of missed invitations rankle, with their failure of nerve, too absorbed in my psyche to take the necessary actions. In preferring my will, I scraped depression’s depths rather than internalize the gift proffered. And only within the gentle discipline of AA, years later, did I begin to watch for the telltale signs of new growth.

About that same time, the season of spring began to remind me of Creator God and His color-making power in ever-expanding universes—even now, in this eighty-six-year-old cypher.

Soon, the robin’s perch in the summer snowflake viburnum will assume the shape of a lacy gown—the seventh year of its flowering outside my study window. I give thanks, with gusto.

With a jolt, I awoke with this corrective dream:

Lethargic, unfocused, I’m driving my new used car home from the dealership. As I approach the grocery store, I remember needing eggs and decide to stop. I pull into the parking lot that slopes toward the curb, then turn off the ignition. To my horror, the car keeps moving. I don’t know where the brake is. I need help.

Given the busyness of yesterday, it’s no wonder that my Dreamer spun this story.

Lethargic, unfocused speaks of the dissociation from my body as well as the world around me, a condition I used to live in before getting into recovery; it kept me isolated, unable to learn, stunted psycho-socially. That I’m still swallowed in this malaise reveal its deep rootedness. Yesterday’s relapse led to disregarding my third breathing treatment at the scheduled time. Exhaustion precluded remaining awake until a later time when it was safe to take it. Only with this morning’s treatment did deep breathing fill my lungs.

Driving my new used car suggests my self-will run riot, as described in the Big Book. In my present circumstances, I’ve no need for a car. Yet in the dream story, I procure one. I will have it my way, no matter that I may harm others or myself.

The grocery store with its eggs speaks of my penchant for nutritious foods to maintain my old body, such as it is. I still avoid sugars and most grains.

I don’t know where the brake is. —A terrifying moment seated in my car rolling toward the street and a probable crash. This image prods me to listen for Higher Power’s direction and not go out on my own, and to say No when taxed beyond my endurance. I’m the one with the terminal illness.



Such are the associations from these dream images, urging deeper listening for direction.


“Helping you stay connected,” so concluded a radio announcer on a major media outlet this morning.

Connected to what? I asked myself. To whose agenda? For what purpose? Is the content really helpful? From these questions emerged a larger one: Do I discern what I listen to? Through this sense, I expose my psyche to the world around me with its myriad voices: manipulative and inspirational and everything in between.

Like others, though, when tired, unfocused, looking for a quick fix, I’ll resort to what I know as a less than, from which I emerge all the more depleted and anxious, scattershot having piercing my resolve. With difficulty, I reign in the allurement that snagged my curiosity, then reframe the next moment that leads to self-forgiveness and my accustomed silence. Only therein do I discover what I need to learn as I move through my end time. The words, with their guidance, do come…

With the boy Samuel watching that night in the temple, I pray, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.”

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