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This morning’s nun dream gave me considerable pause:

 It is evening, spring. Hundreds of nuns have gathered at a large convent for a supper meeting with their new Provincial. Conversations buzz, last minute preparations fall into place, some finger rosary beads. For days, I have been responsible for ordering and overseeing the preparation of the steamed vegetables for the meal. I was still uneasy, fearful of asking for help. The Superior and her entourage greet everyone as they stream into the refectory and take their places. To my dismay, I notice a serpentine mushy-like, pale green thing inching along the hardwood floor, its head moving with each twist of its body. “Is that asparagus?” I ask.

 The dream story mirrors another shameful experience in 1966 when I was a recently professed nun, overwhelmed by joint pain, loneliness, and desperately seeking attention. Then, arrangements of tiger lilies for the refectory tables, cut that morning by the creek bed, had died.

So what does this dream signify in my present circumstances? It must have something to do with that serpentine mushy-like, pale green thing: Shocking in its repulsiveness. I liken it to asparagus, its gyrating phallic form like something you might encounter in Kafkaesque imagination.

That I’m so unnerved by this glob of glistening tissue suggests its emergence from my unconscious shadow: The scum of unacceptable character defects that still dominate my choices and thoughts and keep me in bondage. Thus my CPA 12 Step work continues, one day at a time …

 

 

Fixated upon the pause mode, I squirm like a hapless insect caught within a spider’s web. Time gorges my days, swallowed whole: such teeter upon psychic indigestion, mess with routines of self-care, and plunge me into tomorrows when I’m not ready to go there. My controller still wants to call the shots, despite my practice of Step II, like spidery webs torn asunder by wintry winds.

Yet, like the insect, I remain dazed, powerless to change my present circumstance: I do have ILD with rheumatoid arthritis, a terminal disease that is shortening my life. But how? When? The dailyness of my symptoms renders me half-sick: weak, short of breath, and exhausted. Other annoyances, as well, irk me: Expelling infected mucus from my lungs eats into my afternoons; occasional brain fog scrambles for the next right word, both when speaking and blogging. Even my Dreamer seems to have dumped me.

Then, I remind myself that it’s not as if I’m preparing for an ice cream social.

I still benefit from the gift of time: Its windows correct bouts of impatience, with their disruptive playing cards, and enhance spiritual growth. That, alone, remains important. A second study of The Grace in Dying – How We Transform Spiritually as We Die awaits me; its dense material necessitates a calm mind and an open heart, deeper this time around.

Yet, I have come a long way since last November’s signing on for hospice’s palliative care. This is working out—my heartfelt thanks for coming along.

 

A new day

 

 

 

Yesterday’s snowfall recalled a striking image from the prophet Isaiah: Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…if you are wiling to obey… (1:18-19)

This 8th-century BCE prophet likened sin to the color scarlet, its dye not easily washed from costly robes seen in the Temple precincts. His listeners would have understood, but their obdurate hearts blocked compliance. Too onerous was the Law of Moses: its discipline irked their comforts, stifled their imaginations, and kept them in bondage, even the duress of Assyrian swords.

Similarly today, the invitation for cleansing persists for those willing to obey. Sin is still around but with different names: shadow in Jungian depth psychology, character defects or shortcomings in the 12 Steps of AA, as well as lapses, blind spots, blunders, mess-ups in popular parlance. Inherent within such darkness is the scrim of denial, rationalization, and idealization: They becloud honesty and muddle hearts. Living becomes a slippery slope with multiple injuries, with Band-Aid fixes, with still more visits to emergency rooms.

I know. I was on that slippery slope until I discovered my damaged heart and Isaiah‘s invitation to change, within 12 Step living. The snow is present, in season and out. God’s passion to deify me, and all humankind, makes this possible.

I’m in good company as I move through my end time, within each twenty-four hours. Even now, there is Kingdom joy in whitening.

 

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