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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 …

Emptiness discomfits me, snaps at my innards, and scrapes barnacles from my imagination while the sun-drenched afternoon toasts new budding on the snowflake viburnum outside my study window.

As a solitary dog-walker trudges up the hill, her chest heaving, a creeping barrenness unravels my grasp of life’s fabric.

I sit in my wing-back chair, close my eyes, and wait, uneasy and surrendered. Imperceptibly, a new courage emboldens me to listen. From the emptiness, an ineffable sense of the Sacred emerges, a whispering not found in human discourse or books.

This is something else.

It hurts: one of the faces of grief, united with the Ukrainians’ plight, the world over.

Yet, a wise potter once said, “We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds what we want.”

“I thirst,” said the Russian tank officer, leaning against the turret, blood oozing from his shoulder onto his jacket.

“I thirst,” said the Ukrainian soldier tightening a tourniquet above his ankle seeping blood, his mouth twisted in anguish.

“I thirst,” said the scarved grandmother holding her toddler’s hand, watchful of potholes lest she fall.

“I thirst,” said the battle-terrified youth seeking a means to desert within the mayhem of the next explosion.

“I thirst,” said the field reporter, dismayed by her empty thermos bottle and too far from the station to replenish it.

“I thirst,” said the teenager sheltering a puppy in his hooded coat as he shivered in the cold, his village just strafed by mortar shells.

Many also thirst far beyond the war zone: those tending the  supply lines, those strategizing the next strike, those searching casualty lists, those suturing new wounds, those listening for glimmers of hope, those praying from arroyo-like depths.

And there was Another who cried, “I thirst!” who shares our thirst.

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