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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 …

In most fairy tales Queens are portrayed as all loving or conniving; they evoke strong feelings—admiration or aversion—within the depths of their listeners. However, in The Snow Queen (1844) written by the Danish Hans Christian Anderson, another Queen appears: beautiful, gifted with spells, riddles, mysteries, but ice-cold in her demeanor. She creates havoc in the lives of two children, Gerda and Kai, and gets away with it.

So what to make of this Queen who wields such power? Certainly Hans Christian Anderson would know, firsthand. His queen was the Swedish Songbird of classical opera, Jenny Lind, who twaddled his adoration for her in the 1840s. Friends, only, they would remain, but she still lives in his fairy tale, unapproachable and frigid in her palace.

Unlike other storytellers who fashioned dramas from issues clashing in their unconscious, Anderson drew his from the conscious world, but dressed them up within the classical components of fairy tales: good vs. evil, animals as messengers, disguises, witches, spells, darkness, superhuman tasks, effective synchronizations, death, resolution, and and many more.

However, in The Snow Queen these components hang loosely in this seven-part tale, insufficient to wrest psychic transformation in listeners. What redeems this tale, however, is Gerda’s tearful kiss; it melts Kia’s frozen heart and frees him from the Snow Queen’s evil spell. The children return to their village, much wiser.

Still, Anderson penned some good tales—change-of-heart stories still work.  

After ten hours of restful sleep, I awoke at 7 A.M. with this healing dream:

It is Sunday afternoon. January’s bluster nips my cheeks as I hurry toward the conference room at The College Church. Some old friends still remember me as I take my seat. Other parishioners buzz in anticipation for the program: the origins of Southern spirituals, their history, together with black and white sketches that line the walls. I’m pleased that the Black presenter will respond to my question.

I still smile with this dream story—depicting me alive and well in mind, spirit, and body—with no sign of morbidity.

January’s bluster suggests the continuing hardship of managing with less-than-perfect lungs, moving into each twenty-four hours with my helpers. Sunday speaks to a more mindful pace of living.

The College Church, the dream’s setting, comes as a surprise. In May 2007, another dream demanded I leave, as it no longer challenged me. In subsequent years, negativity clouded other College Church dreams; but not this one. Perhaps it has morphed into my psychic church, wherein I’m put to the test, daily, moment by moment.

Within my psyche, Some old friends welcome me, suggesting a deepening relationship with who I am becoming. Their graced company offers consolation.

Southern spirituals, the subject of the presentation, speak of grief, still lodged in my unconscious, yet to be fully experienced. Still an onlooker to this process, I own having made several ill-designed forays that dead-ended.

And my question suggests ferment, again in my unconscious, allowing words to coalesce in meaningful searches as I continue digging deep into my flawed humanness for the meaningful.

And my trust in the Black presenter suggests my Higher Power, attuning me to His will with each breath and informing me of this process, only when ready.

So I’m grateful for this arduous work that’s keeping me conscious, more than I have ever been in my life.

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