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January 19, 2005
I have a built-in alarm clock: if I "set" it by looking at the clock before I go to sleep and telling myself when to wake up, I will wake up at that time. It's a handy thing to have, and it's worked for decades.

The old brain isn't what it was, though, and I notice lately that's it's affected my built-in alarm. These days, it begins worrying about the wakeup call at around midnight, and wakes me every hour or so, just in case. I open one eye and sneak a peek at the real clock, quietly delighted to see that I've got hours before I must emerge from under the quilts, and I fall immediately back to sleep.

Into a dream, last night: I arrived at the church in time for the early morning Eucharist to find the parish hall filled with people. I recognized most of them: they were Cursillo people. What's this? I asked one of them. She was not a morning person, I guess: It's the six-thirty meeting, she snarled, and walked away.

The six-thirty meeting? But surely that meeting was tonight -- an evening meeting, not a morning one. Yet here we all were. Nobody in the crowd seemed particularly pleased to be there at that hour, and there seemed to be no one in charge of getting whatever program needed to happen off the ground. The natives were getting restless. Okay. I arose and began the prayer: Come Holy Spirit, Fill the hearts of your people and kindle in us the fire of your love.... The same woman scowled again, and I remembered that Cursillo is a lay-led movement. Still, people were holding music in their hands, but nobody had sung a note, and nobody had made a move to change that.

How about a song? I said gamely, and began to sing "Seek Ye First." Get them limbered up a little. Well, I guess there's no teaching, the scowling woman said to the group after we finished the song, as if I weren't there, and I quickly offered one: I had a nice story about getting up early in the morning with my father I could dust off and use. Maybe it would help people feel a little better about being awake.

I awoke from the dream for another time check before all the people at the meeting had a change to lumber off into the early morning darkness. I lay there under the covers for a moment, looking at the clock. It really was time to get up now. Time to get up and pray and write something and get on the road. Time to be happy that, once again, I have been allowed to draw breath, to go out into the world and see what's going on. Time to listen to the news and pray it, instead of fuming helplessly about it.

Let us bless the Lord! For funny, telling dreams. For real obligations and the power to meet them. That not everything is as bad as we fear it will be, and that some things are absolutely wonderful.
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