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And a Time to Die, by Mark Pelgrin. (Available for $2.95 from Quest Books, P.O. Box 270, Wheaton, Illinois 60187)

Mark Pelgrin had cancer and was dying. Facing death was tough. Yet Mark persisted, leaving behind a journal that many will find to be a brave testimony to life. Using his meditation diary, his dreams and sometimes a Jungian analyst, Mark created what he called a "magic circle of I am" from within, in which he did his best to realize the meaning of his life so that he could more easily let go of his dying body. But it was rough going.

Mark’s wife had died of cancer a few years before he discovered the disease in himself. He had her last recorded dream:

There is a small island in the sea. A dark man is seated there. He is braiding strands of bread. He looks at me and says, "The light and the dark must be braided together."

His wife’s dream served as a guiding mantra for Mark as he struggled by day and by night to retrieve life from death. His own dreams proceeded to help him find meaning in the process of his raw encounter:

I see a black coffin with a white rose upon it. There is a tall man with dark eyes hovered there. He has a red rose between his teeth. The rose becomes a fire at the end of a long corridor. Shadowy figures move up and down near the fire. Endlessly circling in a solemn ritual, they repeat, "In my end is my beginning." I rush down the corridor to join them but they disappear.

Death becomes an elusive shadow when Mark attempts to grasp it with his rationality. He is forced to recognize it as truly "Other" and to accept the irrational as given.

I am watching a mystery play in an amphitheater on a hill. There are many mythical figures whom I am to come to know—Love, Pity—embodied mainly in women. But there is one in particular—Death—that these others respect above all. She seems like someone I already know, yet it is some time before I recognize who Death is. Death is stately, dark, silent, and curiously—though I am afraid of her—I know she is a friend and that when she finally will greet me I will go uncomplainingly.

And he does.

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