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At 10:30 P.M., 3:20 A.M, and 6:15 A.M., I awoke to this recurring dream:

Alone, I walk toward an interesting shop in a small town in Switzerland. Displayed in the window is a hand-made rug that catches my attention: blue, it looks like. I must have a closer look. I go inside the shop.

Evidently, my Dreamer wants my involvement. My nightly medication usually keeps me asleep, with no recall of dreams.

In my present circumstances, I am Alone most of the time following the departure of my caregivers in the early afternoon. I continue waiting out my time in solitude and in writing and in prayer, “Mercy!”

The interesting shop suggests merchandise that appeals to my selective tastes—as if someone was directing my feet to this venue. In life, significant purchases have happened this way, even the home in which I live.

My immediate association with Switzerland was my 1988 stay in Zurich and the classes at the C. G. Jung Institute. There, I was immersed in Depth Psychology that supported critical work with chaotic dreams streaming from my unconscious; it revealed deep truth about my dishonesty and had to be dealt with. Now, I sense my Dreamer wants even deeper involvement as my end-time winds down.

And the hand-made rug in the shop window: I must have it. As I mull over this image, what surfaces is a prayer rug used in worship; used also by nomads and herders accustomed to desert living. I seem to be in good company: I’m going nowhere but experience constant motion—the still-point of prayer as I wait.

And God is always there; if you feel wounded.

He kneels over this earth like a divine medic, and His love thaws out the holy in us.

So concludes the poem, When the Holy Thaws, composed by Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) Spanish mystic, reformer of the Carmelite Order, and author of contemplative prayer and practices.

This many centuries later, I wonder of this consoling poem reflects one of her visions with which she was gifted during her life. She knew the wounds, inflicted upon her by ecclesiastical authorities and her own nuns for the reforms she implemented among them—even founded seven monasteries for the observance of the new rule of life. She, too, given her frail health, needed solace and experienced the kneeling God as divine medic.

In my perception nothing much has really changed—only more darkness and disease have distorted our planet from its God-given path.

It’s helpful to return, in prayer, to the gift of these inspired words and let His love thaw out the holy in us. For the holy is properly our birthright and our deepest joy, even in the midst of calamities.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Talbot, but we did all we could—Your husband’s heart just gave out on us,” said the emergency room doctor to the silver-haired woman sitting across from me. She gasped, then sagged onto her lap, while still rubbing the slim gold band on her finger, a gesture that seemed to quiet her during our long wait in the cry room for news. Earlier, her husband had collapsed onto the breakfast room table where paramedics revived him.

After a pause, the doctor slipped next to her on the couch and gently touched the back of her tweed coat. Stunned, she looked up, her ashen jowls mouthing speech, her dark eyes in bondage to angst. “I think I remember that your sons are on the way, that you’ve already made arrangements?” he said looking softly at her while smoothing his tie beneath his medical coat.

She nodded, then searched the confines of the room, grabbed a magazine from the coffee table, then threw it down. She was beside herself: her tears glacier-hardened. It had been that way the whole time I was with her.

Then, with balled fists, she sprang from the couch and shuffled toward the lobby. Outside, earlier snow showers had turned into whistling wind-capped snow spirals. From their midst emerged three figures, shoulders hunched, attentive to icy patches on the ground. She, too, saw the figures and with reckless abandon headed toward them, her arms outstretched, again drenching her flats. In the next moment, the sons slipped off their overcoats and raising their arms, tented their mother from the snow; then, hugged, their bodies swaying like a wind-up toy: release.

I watched for long moments–one of my favorite chaplain stories from the 1980s….

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