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At 7:15 A. M., I awoke with this Step One Dream:

I’m planning my special dessert for guests invited to my home later in the day. The ingredients call for two-to-three feet of newly fallen snow and pots filled with melted chocolate chips. Everything is ready. I go out to my backyard and dribble hot chocolate syrup over the snow, then begin mixing the concoction with a wooden paddle.  To my horror, the snow congeals the chocolate into hard bits. I’m furious.

A departure from yesterday’s dream, this one reveals, in Jungian terms, shadow material: unwonted behaviors and attitudes and so much more that lurk within the darkness of my psyche. In dreams, such disorders are symbolically brought to consciousness for my review. Such was this morning’s dream.

I’m planning suggests total control and obsession to please my guests with the dessert of all desserts that will enjoin their adulation upon my low esteem. I will feel alive. Nothing about the ingredients seems unusual: two-to-three feet of newly fallen snow that suggests frigidity, unyieldingness, and unwillingness to relate to people, places, and things; and melted chocolate chips, the mood-changer with their caffeinated kick.

The wooden paddle becomes the tool to whip this delicacy into shape, rather than chill my arthritic hands. The hard bits were not supposed to happen and trigger blinding rage. 

On yet a deeper level, this dream plunges me into the unmanageability of Step One: my bargaining with Precious God—if I come up with an unheard of sweetness for my guests, including Him, then I’ll be rewarded with a longer stay in this existence. But my plan fails and decades of repressed rage bite me in the ass.

Besides carrying this rage to subsequent steps in CPA for its removal, I pray with the Psalmist: “From my hidden sins, O Lord, deliver me.” Psalm 19:12

I intended to begin these reflections on sin with yesterday’s blog on my thievery, evidence of my flawed nature and part of the human condition. Only when I began working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous did I understand the full implications of honesty.

I still remember my first meeting, September 16, 1991, at the Lindell Club, across the street where I lived. Not knowing I was a newcomer, the chairperson, a cab driver, asked me to read the opening, “How It Works” from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Tucked in the first paragraph was this sentence: “…There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest….”

I identified with those grave emotional and mental disorders: it was my behavior they were referring to, disorders, I later recognized as sin; and rigorous honesty, its antidote. A whole new world opened before me that demanded relating with the new God of my understanding. And so it has been ever since.

Yet, it was a painstaking to own the drift of my destructive instincts for social recognition, security, and sexual fulfillment—all riding atop fears that I would lose what I had or would not get what I wanted. Daily contacts with others in recovery also helped identify my Seven Deadly Sins, and the way out, through admission and forgiveness.

However, the Seven Deadlies still lie dormant in my unconscious and can be triggered, any time—Anger and pride remain troublesome, given my long terminal illness.

Such exercises in rigorous honesty help me name the sinfulness of our broken world that I’ll consider in the next blog, with its antidote: global conversion of heart.

At 7:15 A.M., I awoke with this instructive dream:

Jesuit friends invite me to join them for meetings before the opening of the retreat at their facility located on the Atlantic Coast. A reserve on my usual room, with the floral chintz shag and matching bedspread facing the ocean, awaits me. Other laypersons have also been invited. A friendly Jesuit smiles as he eases me into an armchair in the conference room. The topic under review is the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed.

Deep within my psyche, Jesuit friends, symbolized by masculine energy, affirmed my efforts to integrate the disparate pieces of my unlived life before spirit leaves my body. For what felt a long time, their warmth and camaraderie encouraged the arduous continuation of this work.

The topic of the conference, the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed, suggested outdated defense mechanisms that no longer work in my psyche: fantasy, idealization, dissociation, and denial. Such block the conscious embrace of reality where life happens: From childhood, I was only able to look around life’s corners, not participate. These defense mechanisms had kept me safe, in my self-imposed prison, but no longer are they useful in my search for psychic integration.

Awareness of their continuing presence demands activation of the “conscious contact” of Step Eleven. Only HP can release me from this tyranny, for that is what it is.

The dream’s setting, the feminine container of my room with the floral chintz swag over the window facing the ocean, supports this endeavor. I have only to be willing to participate, one moment at a time.

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