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It is cold—very cold—and it’s just beginning.

Somehow that matters little in my warm study when enveloped within Winter Dreams, the subtitle of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor (1866) played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yuri Temirkanov. The first movement, fragile and effervescent, evokes inchoate scenes of what wasn’t there before: 

Moonlit snow-scapes—wind-startled frozen lakes—flocked mountain pines—brush-filled meadows—gust-sculpted cathedrals—critter-tracks meandering over hills—color-splashes angling down slopes and crisscrossing paths.

Beneath this frozen world, deep smiles thaw my imagination; trickles of water create wiggle-room for my breathing. Like the first morning of creation, Beauty still evokes deep joy and zest for living.

Listening to Winter Dreams plunges us within its critical cycle of brilliance. Color’s own brilliance will return, in time.

At 4:20 A, M., I awoke with this probing dream:

The late morning is iced over by spitting rains as mourners climb stone steps of the entrance of the College Church at St. Louis, Missouri. A significant member of the congregation has died, known for her long-standing activism exposing evil’s many faces wherever she saw them—even imprisoned for her work…A fearless woman, she never flinched turning her other cheek…Grief impressed its pallor upon the bereaved as they knocked slush from their boots…I wanted to be like the deceased.

This dream story would be remembered, unlike pieces salvaged over the past month, only to be snatched back into my unconscious; this dream would wait until I turned on the light, grabbed pen and paper, and wrote. Only three sentences were unintelligible in the morning’s light. More meaning would have emerged had that not been the case.

The wintry weather, iced over by spitting rains, suggests the cold-killer lurking in my psyche that imprisons my words beneath glacial ceilings, pinched by frigid waters. The College Church speaks to the patriarchal milieu that influences attitudes, decisions, even actions: all of which had kept my feminine spirit in bondage until leaving, decades ago. Yet, this is the venue that agrees to handle my remains, whenever ….

The fearless woman in the dream story is unknown to me—perhaps my positive feminine archetype. The grief-stricken mourners attending the memorial Mass speak of my own, still attached to this life and bewailing its diminishment and inability to participate more fully. There’s so much more to learn. Despite daily prayer of powerlessness over my demise and of surrender to God’s will, I’m still holding on. Such, I think, is the intent of the dream.

I know this is Creator God’s work. I have only to participate.

Tidbits of wisdom come from unexpected sources, like messages found inside Dove Promise candy wrappers, this one attributed to Sotiria S. from New Jersey:

Be fiercely authentic.

What are the chances of my receiving the same mandate from the same large bag of chocolates, within the week preceding New Year’s? I do pay attention to such synchronizations. An uncanny authority emanates from these three words, its preponderance feels heavy, like there’s no choice—seeded within everyone’s birthright.

Long years and terminal illness suggest unalterable limits that juice the remaining seeds in my birthright like slushy grapes in a wine press, even to the last drop. In prayer, I watch fresh wine splashing within earthenware vessels, its rings evidence fresh acceptance and willingness to move into the Unknown. But more juicing, over which I’ve no control, lies ahead, despite its diminishment sapping the vitality of my body, in preparation for what is certainly coming.

So this mandate, a viable practice for wherever life finds you, stands for another twenty-four hours:

Be fiercely authentic.

Its fruits invigorate our psychic depths, develop unique spirits, and precipitate reckless abandonment to the Realm of Being, within all that is.

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