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“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.

At 6 A.M., I woke with this dream:

It is August, the evening of my arrival at the Eastern Point Retreat House for my eight-day directed retreat. Animated conversations of other retreatants draw me to the dining room for buffet supper. I search among them for my friend Pat, but she has not yet arrived. I’m concerned. Winds sweep dense levels of humidity from the Atlantic’s surface that borders the complex. I feel clammy, heavy.

At first, the dream’s setting, EPRH, thrilled me, the Jesuit retreat house that I had frequented for decades at Gloucester, Massachusetts. Profound spiritual cleansings had buoyed my spirit, until home for a while; and the emergence of entrenched habits resumed their former dominance.  

Then, I looked deeper into my psyche: Animated conversations of other retreatants exposedthe seepage of inner chatter, warring against my practice of meditation and spiritual reading that blocks “conscious contact” with Higher Power. This had been true at Gloucester, as well; only within its silence could I settle down to fully engage in its critical work, guided by my director.

In my present circumstances, I yearn for the same depth of silence in my psyche. This is not happening as much as I would like. I feel clammy, heavy. My body has never died before and I need guidance in prayer and from other spiritually minded persons. Yet, control still has mastery, despite my practice of CPA’s Twelve Steps; though, such sparring does yield spiritual growth. Time is of the essence.

In the dream I also noted anxiety over the absence of my friend, as if unable to surrender to the grace of the retreat that necessitates psychic change. This image speaks to existential loneliness, casting me adrift in powerlessness. Therein, I eventually find my God who companions me through end time. No one else can serve this purpose.

So I plod along, one day at a time …

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