Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February 4th

These are two dreams that I recorded in my journal. I dreamed both of them in the morning, right before I woke up and I wrote them down right afterward. Both of them were emotionally compelling, vivid and personal.

The dreams have strong themes- shame and failure, hope and redemption, fear and love. These themes have played out in my life in many ways, so it is not surprising that I should dream about them.

Although personally I can understand much of these dreams from my own life story, I will not offer any interpretation of them. Instead, I have only described both what I was seeing and what I was feeling, and I will leave it at that.

I will offer them with one of my favorite prayers: Into Thy hands. Thee I adore. Thy will be done.

May 22, 2011

I had an interesting dream early this morning. I dreamed that my family and I were staying in an unfamiliar, mid-western town. We were at the church center there, to prepare for my marriage to a man I'd never met in person.

I wasn't nervous about this. I felt serene, held perfectly still in wonder. I was waiting.

In the dream, I was sitting in one of the rows of upholstered seats in the main room of the church, looking at the front of the church, but I wasn't seeing it, because all I was thinking about was the fact that in just a few days, I would finally be in the presence of the man I would marry.

I would see his face, I would talk to him. I would learn all about him and belong to him and begin a whole other life that I couldn't imagine and did not even try. I had waited such a long time and now the moment of meeting was within sight and this was all I could think about it.

My mother and a cousin or someone were over in one of the rows, going over something when an unknown girl came up to me. She was pretty and friendly looking, one of the townspeople.

She said something that I no longer remember, and I must have answered dismissively or with only half my attention, because she became offended and said something dismissive in reply.

Then, in regret, I focused on her. It was difficult, almost a physical effort, to draw myself up from the peaceful abstraction that I had been so pleasantly and so completely lost in, but I did it.

"I'm sorry," I apologized, focusing on her face. "I wasn't really listening. I have a tendency to be self-absorbed and it's worse than usual right now. Please go ahead; I'm listening now."

She returned to her native friendliness, being quite a nice person, and talking happily about her ranch and her ex-boyfriend, who was a such a good man and still such a good friend- she was proud of and relied on and still associated herself with him, despite the fact that they no longer were in any form of romantic relationship.

She showed me a picture of her house, that her father had built. It was a wooden house in the western style, and it was impressive with a big deck, strong beams and high ceilings, but neither her father nor her ex boyfriend lived there. She lived there alone, but it seemed that the house alone was more than enough for her. She was very pleased with it.

I made encouraging comments, glad that she was happy. Only, as soon as I heard her say his name, I knew he was the man I was going to marry and marveled at the coincidence, and felt awkward about the delicate situation I suddenly found myself in.

"But anyway, you wouldn't know him," she said, off hand. The comment wasn't meant to be mean though it was dismissive in a way; it was natural for her to assume that I couldn't know him, because I wasn't from the town or even the area, and didn't know anyone else there. It would have been a leap to think that I knew him at all, since I hadn't grown up there and didn't share the history, anecdotes and shared culture that everyone from that area would naturally know from living there.

"Actually," I said, conversationally, trying to make the statement as drama free and casual as possible, "I'm going to marry him in a week."

She was abashed and bewildered for a moment and then laughed her friendly laugh and changed the subject.

It struck me that her feelings for him, while possessive and proud, were quite cool. She wanted her ex boyfriend around and attached to her, helping her out around the house, but she did not want to belong to him. She wanted to be associated closely with him, but not married to him.

Then the dream changed. It was the end of that day and my family and I were in one of the back rooms of the church building where we had been working on wedding preparations. We were done for the day and were getting ready to leave the church center for our hotel rooms.

As I stood in one of the brightly lit rooms, someone behind me saw two tall young men through the plate glass window into the hall.

"Hey, it's the groom," a cousin said, giving my groom's name.

I tried not to get excited, because he wasn't due in for days, so I thought it couldn't possibly be him, but my heart leaped into my throat. I followed my mom in a deliberately calm way through the door into the hall way, where the two young men already were.

They were ahead of us in the hallway, but one of the two young men turned around and looked at me, as though he couldn't contain his curiosity any more.

I felt really shy, because I wasn't quite sure, right off the bat, if this was the man I was going to marry or not, and I didn't want to be gazing with my heart in my eyes at some random young man who wasn’t mine.

The young man who had turned around had a very strong, mid-western face; square, with a strong jaw, and his pale skin was covered with freckles. He had pale blue grey eyes. He looked like a very self-possessed, strong and confident young man- the sort of person that would never be pushy, boastful or rude, but who would always do what he set out to do, no matter what it cost him, in a quiet and fearless and determined way.

However, as he looked at me, this expression of incredible wonder swept over his face; it was as though he'd been shaken right down to his soul.

Then I knew it must be him, the one I had been waiting for- the one to whom I belonged. I looked openly at his face, hiding nothing, since I knew he was mine, but it was like looking into a bright light. It was hard to sustain. I felt the pressure of so much emotion in my chest that the weight of it made it hard to take a breath.

He smiled at me. We didn't say a word. No words were necessary. He took my hand in his and the palm of his hand was sweaty. At first I was taken aback by this. It was almost like a weakness. I thought to myself in wonder, “He is as moved by our love as I am!” But one would not have known this, simply to look at him and I determined that I would never breathe a word of how moved he was by love.

We turned and began walking out of the church center, through the main room where the services were held. Someone in the group suggested that the two of us follow the main group at a little distance, which we were happy to agree to, because it gave us time to be together and it was like I was dying of thirst just to be with him.

The two of us went off on our own way, toward a side door, while the rest of the group went to the main double doors at front entrance. As we walked to the side door, there was no awkwardness or hesitation or doubt between us, though it was the first time we would ever be alone together.

But as we began to open the door, we heard exclamations from the main group at the other end of the building. Some overzealous church custodian had locked the doors too early and they were stuck in the building. The group wasn't worried too much, the jovial atmosphere remained. Someone cracked a joke, someone else went to go hunt down the keys.

The side door where I was going to leave with my fiancé was unlocked and I wanted, more than anything else, to go out into the lovely freedom of the wind swept night with him. I wanted simply be with him- just to walk along beside him and hear his voice and be with him and begin to get to know him.

But he told me we should go back over to the main group and help them out of the church and I must admit, I was reluctant- rather selfishly so. (For some reason, in the dream, it never occurred to me that the others could go out this same door and it was never suggested as an option.)

I didn't want to remain in the stuffy, over heated atmosphere of that building at the end of a long day, and hunting down keys was such a tedious business, because who knew where they might be. I wanted to slip out the side door and into the freedom of the cool and breezy night. I could glimpse the side walk through the half open door, the street lights casting a golden glow in the night.

But my fiancé was lovingly insistent and I couldn't help but admire his tender concern for my family. His conduct was so loving and loyal and kind that I was ashamed of my first instinct to leave early without them, so I agreed and turned toward the doors and the group there and the dream ended.

March 9, 2012

Last night I had this fascinating dream.

In the dream, there were two kingdoms, arranged like a ring around a circle, so that the inner kingdom was surrounded by the outer kingdom. The outer kingdom was hidden behind barricades and was ruled by absolute authority and little was known about it. The inner kingdom was run like a democracy and was chaotic, violent and immature.

The citizens of the disordered kingdom tended to pity the citizens of the outer kingdom, because it was thought that they suffered horribly under their despotic and absolute ruler. In the democracy, they were proud of their ability to do whatever they wished; they felt this was so much better and far more advanced.

I lived on the border, inside the messy kingdom, on a hill, and I could see down into both, though I could only catch a glimpse of the border lands of the surrounding, shuttered kingdom of absolute authority.

In the dream, I was watching a woman get ready for her marriage. I watched someone do her makeup. They were standing outside the house, standing in muddy ground, amid clumps of other wedding gear, gaudy and incongruous against the dull back ground of overgrown bushes and weeds and the grey skies.

There was a mirror placed on a dead tree at eye level, so she could see herself. There were shelves extending out from the trunk, on which were places bottles and pots and other make up tools, smeared and used.

The ugliness of the woman's face struck me- everything in her face was out of proportion, bulging and protruding, but she couldn't help it, because it was her very bone structure and she was completely oblivious to this.

I saw how the make-up made some small, surface improvements, but could not change the bone structure that was the root of her homeliness, and so it seemed to me only to make her more grotesque. I felt pity and compassion for her, but she was quite satisfied with the final result of her makeover and excited for her day to begin.

Then I saw another couple get married. They were young, careless, immature and silly. It was like they were playing dress up, having no idea about the sacred and lasting implications of what they were doing and not caring.

Caught up in a fit of heedless physical attraction, they started making out in my living room, letting their purely physical attraction loose before they even got to their own place. The windows wide open, without curtains and the shag carpet in my living room was dirty from every day traffic, as it was an every day room and not the bedroom.

When I realized they were going to make love right then and there, I was horrified for them. I started running out of the house, deeply embarrassed. I was running down a grassy pathway that ran alongside the barricades. I realized that I was wearing a wedding gown, and that it was going to get dirty and torn on the path.

I felt grieved and in great distress over this. I didn't want to be like the silly brides, who took no thought about the implications of their decisions regarding sacred things. But what could I do? I had to get away. I couldn't stop running.

As I ran down the path, I saw torn off pieces of my gown along the path. Horrified, I scooped them up in my arms and carried them with me. My heart sunk like a stone into bewildered shame and dismay. I couldn't think when I had torn my gown, but the evidence was right there, in my arms. I couldn't deny it. I had been just as heedless and thoughtless as any of the other brides. I had managed no better.

The gown was of so many delicate layers and of such delicate, fine workmanship that I despaired of ever mending it myself- I could not even begin to figure out how it was constructed. I didn't know where each layer should be sewn back.

Seeing this, I was filled with a kind of quiet desperation- the kind of clarity that comes when you are facing a dead end and there are no more distractions and one must come to terms with what is.

I knew the man that I hoped to marry was one who held a very high position of authority and honor, and that he was a man of integrity and dignity. If I tried to fix the dress myself, my deception would be obvious in the clumsy reconstruction.

The only possible thing to do was to face him, confess everything and throw myself on his mercy. Surely he would know that I hadn't meant to destroy my dress and would have mercy on me. It was my only hope.

Then I was  standing outside a building and looking down at the gate into the outer kingdom of absolute authority. This gate was heavily barricaded and guarded by implacable, heavily armored guards that belonged to the outer kingdom, but they stood just inside the messy kingdom, on either side of the gate. They were like those guards at Buckingham Palace, whose expression never changes and who are trained to keep at attention while on duty.

It was night, and the sky above was full of stars. From the high place where I stood on the border, I could see both kingdoms.

In the center of the messy kingdom was a large mechanized city with tall jagged buildings placed close together. It looked a little like the workings of a watch, with interlocking gears and sharp edges, but dark and rusted. Around it was barren land.

Around the land and surrounding it there rose the high, metal barricades of the outer kingdom, and beyond those high walls, I could see the dusky blue rooftops and a few golden lights from the windows of the houses in the outer kingdom.

I could see the huge gate in the barricade. Young revelers from the city at the center of the messy kingdom had ended up at the gate, after one of their aimless excursions. They were kind of like those drunken fans that pour out of the stadium after the game, looking for action, any action, simply because they have gotten worked up.

On a whim, they engage the guards. It had begun harmlessly, but once the revelers got started, they got more and more violent and out of control. Their playfulness turned to rage. They stormed the gate, killing the guards and broke into the outer kingdom.

Fear and horror filled me. It was like watching the end of the world, or watching someone light a fuse that was attached to dynamite. It was irrevocable. I knew that those revelers had roused the Absolute Authority and there must be a response.

Then there was a woman standing next to me, and we were feeling in sympathy as we watched. She had a lovely, calm face, with long straight brown hair and blue eyes and a somber expression.

"Are you from the other kingdom?" I asked her.

She nodded, her face grave. "There will be no stopping the dire consequences of this action; the Absolute Authority will respond with all his power to this trespass. He will move now with all His strength," she told me.

It was a terrifying thought. I thought of the Absolute Authority as terrifying, merciless, irrevocable. Somewhere out there, at the edge of my vision, on the dark horizon, I knew all that great power was gathering to respond, inexorable. I knew we had only hours, or at the most days, before everything would be washed away in a flood of retributive power.

I went down to the gate to look closer at the scene. There was a kind of ski lift contraption that carried the young, stupid kids across the border and back again, and as I got there, two of them were climbing out, after having come back from the outer kingdom. They had been carried back to their own kingdom flat on their backs, unable even to walk after what they had seen.

On their faces was a look of dumb rapture. They didn't even have the vocabulary to describe what they had seen; they had no way of even understanding the things in the outer kingdom. They gabbled on and on, not making any sense, but filled with excitement.

Seeing them, I realize that the outer kingdom, because it was ruled by absolute authority, had the peace to evolve into better and better forms of life. It was leagues away from the medieval way of living in the messy kingdom, where there was too much anarchy and violence to pursue those improvements.

All along, those that lived under the absolute authority had been living life in ways so much better than ours that we didn't even have words to describe how they lived. To be under authority to that degree was actually experienced as perfect freedom and peace.

People in the democracy thought their civilization was so much more advanced, because they thought of themselves as free- free to do whatever they wished. In reality, they were trapped by their own lawlessness, stunted, wounded and living in squalor, compared to the outer kingdom.

Now they planned to take those things they had seen and create them for themselves, in their own kingdom. I thought to myself, this is the worst possible outcome. It could get no worse than that.

Those beautiful and far advanced technologies and systems would become perverse and broken if they were reconstructed by the citizens of the democratic kingdom- not because they intended it that way, but because they themselves were in a state of disorder. No matter how good their intentions, their disordered state would be expressed in any of their endeavors.

Then the dream changed and blurred. There was a part that I don't remember any more, but running through those unremembered parts was this knowledge that someone I knew and loved had died. They died on purpose.

I saw the night sky above me, I saw the stars moving slowly as though the sky was tilting, changing the constellations, and then four bright stars were touching the earth. I saw the bare earth of the grave wall, the earth freshly dug and packed, rising vertical in front of my face and I knew He had died and was buried.

Then I was on the grassy path, the path where I had been running where I had found the torn pieces of my soiled wedding gown. Only I forgot all about my wedding dress. I forgot my shame and my fear. I forgot everything, because I saw Him on the path, walking down it, alive. I knew He had come out of the grave.

Behind Him was an entire landscape of greens and blues, fresh with morning, the sky blue above. Grass was growing thick around His feet. It was extraordinary. I had thought I would never see Him again, that He was gone out of my life forever, and yet there He was, full of life and vitality and joy, a living Person that I recognized all through me.

I went running down to meet Him and He recognized me. His face lit up at the sight of me. It seemed as though we had known each other a long time. He held out His arms. He was not ashamed of me. He loved me.

"Is this my little one?" He said, laughing. It was almost as though He said, “Is this my little fan?” He was loving, so full of joy.

All the dread and the fear and disorder of the earlier part of the dream was gone, vanished like mist at the sight of His face, as I ran down the path bordered by golden clumps of grass.

The Absolute Authority had in fact moved, but not to destruction. Instead He had laid down His own life in ransom, but even the grave had not been able to hold Him. The Absolute Authority was not an untouchable figure of terrible wrath, but my best and most loving and most faithful friend- the One I loved the most, and He knew me and He loved me.

I ran straight into His arms and the joy of that moment was so great that I woke up.

I wished I hadn't woken up. I re-lived, over and over again, that moment of mutual recognition and the joy of going to Him.

I'm right here, Jesus reminded me, with loving humor. And I remembered, with wonder, I didn't have to try and hold onto the dream in order to be with Jesus, because He was right with me, in waking life.

I was full of the joy of it all morning long.