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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The topic of the conference, the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed, suggested outdated defense mechanisms that no longer work in my psyche: fantasy, idealization, dissociation, and denial.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.

At 5:50 A.M., I awoke to this stirring dream:

Christ of the Oceans invited me to join His fellowship. I am honored. Others were with me. One fumbled with his keys and happened to drop them in the water. I dove deep, found them lying upon a sandy spur, and returned them to him. I was already a member of His fellowship of Earth.

This dream constitutes a big one in Jungian analysis as it emanates from the deepest place in my unconscious, known as the collective unconscious. It could be a huge gift or the fruit of deepened acceptance of my terminal diagnosis, interstitial lung disease with rheumatoid arthritis—Or perhaps the completion of my care plan when actively dying, whenever that happens.

Needless to say, I’ve already received beautiful care since my November 2019 hospice sign-up. My gratitude knows no bounds.

So to the dream—I did not receive a visual impression of the Christ of the Oceans, only His presence as experienced during my annual directed retreats on the Gloucester coast; its sweetness, the quintessence of joy. His invitation to this watery fellowship suggests Richard Rohr’s study of the Twelve Steps, Breathing Underwater—doing the impossible and healing through obedience of the heart: Its daily practice enables me to continue diving deep. Who know what else I will find? Perhaps more keys to unshackle me from pretense and other character defects?

This dream is a welcome respite from weeks of darkness. Yet, Christ of the Oceans and of the Earth has been companioning me all along. There’s nothing to fear …

A chance hearing of a symphonic biography stirred memories of our country’s racism in the 1960s: riots, maiming, burnings, beatings, deaths, looting, torture, imprisonments, hospitalizations, bombings, and KKK villainy. Snarling attack dogs, fire hoses, tear gas, riot protective gear, and batons were prominent in the evening news.

Of the voices of protest none was more charismatic than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist preacher and magnet for the Civil Rights Movement. Despite his 1968 assassination, his dream breathes on in the work of many, including the composer Joseph Schwantner and his symphonic biography: New Morning for the WorldDaybreak for Freedom (1982).

A narrator stands before the symphony orchestra and within the colorful and bombastic strains of this twenty-seven minutes piece melds ten excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches and essays. Referenced are the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott; the 1958 “Stride Toward Freedom;” the 1963 letter from the Birmingham jail; the 1963 “I Have a Dream speech” delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; the 1965 Selma march for voting rights; and King’s “Mountain” speech, the night before his death.

Each excerpt strikes dissonance within the instruments of the orchestra and scrapes festering wounds; yet, winds complement the depths of King’ vision, its crucifying tension sustained by prayer.

Although it’s possible to isolate salient characteristics of the 1960’s devastation in our cities, the nasty scourge of racism still whips the divide between rich and poor, gouges the social fabric with mistrust and animosity, and incites more blood-letting. Infections and fevers run rampant. In my perception, unwellness pervades the air.

Yet, I cannot be silenced. Just as Spirit buoyed Dr. King through harrowing trials into eternal life, just as Spirit moved Joseph Schwantner to compose New Morning for the WorldDaybreak for Freedom, to honor his vision, just so will Spirit enlarge our fearful hearts to rejoice, despite setbacks of any stripe. This, too, will pass.

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