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On the other side of change lurks the unknown, at times fraught with crippling fears for most of us.

I still shudder remembering the first wrench: leaving home for the semi-cloistered convent after college. Only the trousseau afforded clues of the lifestyle I was preparing to embrace, and that wasn’t much: linens, toothpaste, rubbers, galoshes, Girl Scout shoes, man-sized handkerchiefs, white nightgowns, etc. Once behind the enclosure, daily changes whittled my identity to the robot-like postulant that I became with nineteen others.

The second wrench was leaving the convent seventeen years later, on my own forthe first time in my life. Helpers showed up precisely when I needed them, but lesserfears still tinged decisions and scrambled my thoughts while moving from city tocity, from job to job, from advanced degree to advanced degree.

The third turn-around was surrendering to my disease of alcoholism and joining Alcoholics Anonymous in 1991. Again, others modeled practicing the 12 Steps until I was willing to practice them myself, and with Higher Power’s help, explore the faulty bedrock of my identity and rip it out. At last, I was becoming my own person.

And now the fourth change—accommodating terminal illness in my lungs within the Unknown, buoyed by the gentle discipline of Chronic Pain Anonymous. To this daily practice, I bring the compass of faith. I’m in good company. In some future not of my devising, this part of my journey will end. In my dreams, however, I am still healthy, still learning.

So like everyone else, I am mortal and show up for each day’s experience.

 

 

              Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe in me. John 14:1

 

This dream gentled me into awareness as I woke:

 It is a humid afternoon, overcast. I am alone. Those I came with have remained in our cabin. Slowly, I make my way down to the bank of the river and feel the mud ooze between my toes. I stop and look around. Tangled woods pattern the water with curves that stretch far ahead. I feel the water lap against my knees as I pick my way forward. Time passes. Suddenly, fear grips me. I don’t know if I can find my way back to the cabin. I’m lost.

 Powerful symbols carry the dream story. Afternoon suggests mid-time, still allotted to me as opposed to night’s end-time. Humidity sucks me within lethargy, befuddles clear thinking, and messes with decisions. Robot-like, I leave my companions within the safety of the cabin and move toward the meandering river: Its unconscious realm demands my engagement. Tangled vegetation on its banks suggests dark places replete with new learning for me to internalize. Mud speaks of primordial creation as depicted in the book of Genesis; it restores my knees. The cabin represents the secure and safe enclosure where all needs are met.

In the dream, I remember regretting not having worn protective footwear lest I injure myself. That does not happen. Instead, I squish along until conscious of my muddy feet splintering my lethargy and setting me a-quaking. Nothing looks familiar. I’m lost.

True, I have grown in acceptance of the mortality inherent within my humanness, but only a modicum. To convince me of this, my Dreamer lays bare my psyche’s curiosity and fear: Curiosity with the unfolding of my terminal illness; fear, with its consummation. Because I still hanker after the cabin, there’s more work to be done.

 

 

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