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I awoke with this dream:

It is late afternoon. I wander around a hilly wooded estate. Beneath the milky sky winter’s austerity deepens my melancholy as I kick piles of leaves that litter the path. Stringy sweet potato vines spill over the sides of a cobalt blue planter and trail along the ground. I’m dismayed to discover the leaves are heavy, molten together. Exhausted, I head toward the great house and one of the bedrooms. I huddle beneath the comforter. No one is around.

 In the dream I have little energy that mirrors ILD, a terminal lung condition I’ve had for several years; the late afternoon suggests its duration and perhaps the length of time I can expect before passing.

Images of death abound. What had been a greening woods filled with bird trills, insects, squirrels and rabbits have been silenced by killing frosts; burnt beyond recognition are leaves of sweet potato vines and tree debris languishing in wind-tossed piles. No warmth to warm my body. No moisture to soothe the scarred lung tissue.

I am alone. Rage crimps my psyche, eviscerates change. How water this acutely dry condition? How restore urgently needed color? I need help.

Then I remember. “In my Father’s house, there are many rooms…” I’ve been welcomed here before. Again, someone in the estate has made my oversized bed, for sleep, for more dreams and more direction, one day at a time—and the rains do come, despite shortness of breath and weakness and fatigue.

 

 

Ten minutes from home. Roiling clouds obscure the wan sun like a finicky lover. A breeze from the south assuages the nape of my neck, sticky with perspiration. Mist befogs my glasses, moistens my cheeks.

I’m going to get wet, perhaps very wet. In that split second my irritation morphs into acceptance: everything changes.

Around my fish-boots, rain polka-dots the sidewalk, then splatters into rivulets coursing along the curb toward the sewer. I relax into the wetness; its tentacles envelop me within their chill. I begin to laugh as I shelter beneath maples and oaks and catch my breath. It’s been awhile since I was drenched.

Then out into the open, the last stretch of my walk, and home. My scalp tingles, my chin drips, my shirt clings to my back, my pants etched with wavy designs—a waterlogged human. My laughter feels like orange sherbet.

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” So said the gifted country singer and song writer, Roger Dean Miller.

Is this not also how grace works in our psyches? Always proffered, but awash in distractions?

 

Wetness saturates the air with droplets. Overhanging maples, with run-off teased by breezes, splatter upon my slicker. Around me, shrubs pay homage to the once cracked ground, oozing underfoot and chilling my sandaled-toes.

It is Saturday afternoon by the creek: a confluence of multiple rhythms that compels even deeper listening. I pause in my tracks as my spirit yearns for moisture. I shout into the stillness. Gladness wells and refreshes my cramped psyche: Again, my Inner Writer breathes. Such is the restorative power of walking in the woods.

That evening I happened upon Beethoven’s Symphony # 6 in F Major – The Pastoral (1808). Beset by health and relationship issues most of his life, he often left Vienna and took solitary walks into the country; there, nature’s rhythms nurtured his passion for composing. Such must have occurred with his Sixth Symphony. Unlike others, it contains programmatic notes for the five movements: Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrive in the countryside, Scene by the brook, Merry gathering of country folk, Thunderstorm, and Shepherd’s song and cheerful feelings after the storm. Fortunate for us, Beethoven later wove these rich experiences into this symphony; its melodic lines breathe into the psyches of the listeners. Contentment expands into smiles. All is well.

Like him, we are never the same after such walks.

 

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