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Outside my study windows, September evokes subtle leaf changes in my shrubs: the pickle-green lilacs, the laurel-green forsythia, the moss-green of the London plane tree, and the hunter-green of the snowflake verbena. All have lost their glossy coats, Spring’s gift, and will eventually cast them within stripping winds and pelting snow crystals. Yet, occasional root drenching-rains prolong this process like sparrows in slow motion.

I feel like one of these leaves: the loss of my greening-zest and its intrusion into my identity. But change, I must continue until properly stripped. This takes daily willingness, only wrought through prayer. Within each twenty-four hours, I draw courage from the shrubs, in their de-coloring and de-leafing, outside my windows.

Yet, lime-green berries flourish on my Christmas jewel holly, December’s chill reddening them through the winter months.

In today’s quiet, I returned to the lyrics of the protest song, Sounds of Silence (1964), its symbols pin-pricking the Alice-in-Wonderland world shapeshifting around its composer Paul Simon. Then, it was the war in Vietnam, with nightly footage of its atrocities numbing many viewers into powerlessness, voicelessness. Something was very wrong in our world. Switching channels helped.-

In my perception, Sounds of Silence still evokes shudders and speaks to our country’s splintering beneath heaps of social, political, and economic disorders. Morals no longer work; in their place, the bastardization of language.

The protest song opens with the imprint of a powerful dream upon the narrator that commands its communication to

People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

And at a later disaster was heard: “Just keep them quiet,” said one of the terrorists on the phone recovered from the debris of United flight 93.

The lyrics continue as if echoing Yahweh’s pleas in the Psalms:  

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

The warning was given. Yet, with passing years, even more trivia has dulled imaginations, stoked hot pursuit of substances, and atrophied psyches—even evolving into monster-like-minions of

 the neon god they made

The timeliness of conversion of heart has never been so urgent—it can be done.

I awoke at 6:25 A.M. with this inspiring dream:

Women from all parts of the world gather and pray for peace.

This glimpse into my psyche, cast in pastel blues waves, opened me to a different kind of power, one that seeks compassion, intimacy, and trust in the Invisible; one that softens rough edges, listens with the heart, that laughs merrily with life’s twists and turns. So profound is this power that violence shirks her company and flees like disturbed bats in underground caves dripping with slime.

Such transformations happen within the school of prayer, to which Women from all parts of the world devote themselves, unsparingly. In my perception of the diseased, truncated Planet Earth, only God’s intervention, with one psyche at a time, can facilitate some kind of restoration—a new creation, if you wish. Living around the edges of Life no longer works.

So what kind of prayer are we taking about? One that accepts the arduous work of rooting out the stale furniture in our psyches, one that tracks our wolf-like instincts and squelches them from another kill, one that quests for authenticity, one that prompts us to pal with like-minded individuals and rebuild the broken.

Only within the present moment, in prayer, can we be so touched. Such inflames more courage to face and live in the truth where we traipse boundless shores, where we hike mountain paths, where we are set free, our birthrights fully actuated.

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