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  • I am at the dentist office, enduring the process of having a large, years-old filling removed, as I am fitted for a temporary crown. I have been in the dental chair for two miserable hours.

    The delay is partly due to my over-booked dentist, who shuffles between the three patients occupying identical vinyl recliners. But I, too, am to blame: every time my dentist attempts to drill into my tooth, I screech.

    When she kindly pats my arm, plunging yet a third shot of pain killer into my upper gum, I am relieved -- though my impatience jumps another notch at having to wait yet another ten minutes to see if this time I finally go numb.

    With no overhead mirror or TV to distract me, I study the painting on the wall beyond my raised feet. The painting is a cheap copy, but still its lush green trees, vibrant flowering bushes, and yellow cobblestone path exudes a warmth that cradles my frazzled nerves and aching jaw.

    It finally dawns on me that the painting has a message for me -- and the Universe is going to hold me captive in that damn dental chair until I receive it.

    "It's the gate," I finally whisper.

    I am either supposed to reach out and push the gate open -- or stop lamenting that the gate has been padlocked behind me. Either choice requires that I start down a path that quickly disappears from view. Scary!

    But I get the cosmic nudge that something wonderful awaits, if I will but choose.

    My dentist returns.

    My nerves cooperate.

    Soon I am out the door.

    Message received, Universe. Thanks.
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