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At 5 A.M., I woke to this curious dream:

I’m healthy, enthused by my entrance into an ancient monastery located in a mountainous region surrounded by virgin forests. I’m wearing the long brown homespun robe and belt of the monks as I follow them toward an open meadow for a meeting with the Abbott. Everyone receives a paper, printed in green that outlines today’s activities including the reminder to sign up for the Covid vaccine.

In the dream, I’m very fit, eager to participate in my new lifestyle among hundreds of monks in this ancient monastery, symbol of enclosure with the Sacred. With them, I expect to practice balanced disciplines of prayer, study, and work, within the rule of silence. Further engaging my whole spirit is the natural beauty of this setting: varied snow-covered peaks, scented pines, wild flowers, and birds songs, and so much more.

That I am the only woman, garbed in the long brown homespun robe and belt of the monks, seems to make no difference to this large community. It never occurred me to request more feminine attire; the robe I was given scratches my shoulders.

In the dream, I do not see the Abbott, but feel his presence through the paper, printed in green, with his directives: The Covid vaccine gives me pause.

The dream’s intent eludes me, given my return to health. On the one hand, there’s my enthusiastic response to this new way of living; on the other, its patriarchal underpinnings—their rules of silence and orders of day—do little to enhance my relationships with the Sacred and others.

Despite increased symptoms, perhaps I’m not to let go of my writing altogether.

Midnight—my neighborhood, bone-quiet. Yet, strident voices in my psyche rouse me from deep sleep, prodding me to get a snack. I am hungry, not having eaten sufficiently during the day. Work on the Memorial Mass had consumed me: My emotions ran high selecting suitable hymns from the St. Louis Jesuits that had inspired years of prayer at The College Church.

Four hours later, the same voices pull me from sleep, prod me to sit at my word processor, and write. It is dark, chilly in my study, the whir of the concentrator in the next room. Recall of the accompanying dream story could have specified the disorder—It must be about listening.

Three hours later, I awake to another dream: It is quiet. Outside my window crews of workmen have removed centuries-old oak trees and excavated deep holes in the ground for new foundations.

 More work still to be done—more trust and surrender to the Contractor’s plan. Again, I clamber onto the path and start out.

 

 

If it was Friday, it was housework. Dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping—I did it all. Sometimes laundry spilled over into Saturdays. For decades, it had been that way—but then change upset my routine.

It was another Friday, June 30, 2017, sunny and humid. If I didn’t hurry with my vacuuming, I’d be late for my Pilates hour. What pride I took when others commented upon my toned eighty-one year-old body; it had served me well, despite rheumatoid arthritis.

Suddenly, pain knifed me as I hit the hardwood floor in the dining area, my sandal looped around the cord of the vacuum cleaner. I rolled upon my back and howled, then sat up to assess the damage. I had fallen before but it had been a few years. My left elbow quivered as if massaged by sea winds; and my crazed left hip snarled into the universe—I needed help. During the ambulance ride to the emergency room, I wondered if this fall would be a life-changing event. It was.

In time, the fractures healed, but lost was the limited energy of my former life. Housework was out of the question.

Then I remembered Chrissy who had washed my grimy windows the previous year. Yes, she could help me—but her help far exceeded cleaning my house. Her quiet manner, her cheerfulness, her attention to detail have freshened my living space, handled minor repairs, watered my houseplants, polished whatever needed to be polished, even decorated for Christmas. How I look forward to Fridays and her warm hug.

 

 

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