31 03 2008

People often tell me that they don’t dream. While scientists believe that all people experience dreams during REM sleep, there seem to be some people who only rarely remember these dreams.

I often have very vivid, long & complex dreams that I remember for years afterward. Sometimes they are prophetic, and I can see the moment when they come to pass. Like last week, during the sewing class, as I was bent over Donal’s head in the confusion, there was a sudden moment when I recognized what we were doing from a dream I had a few months ago. Some prophetic people who work deeply with dreams have postulated that deja vu may actually be triggered by remembering a former dream rather than a random chemical event in the brain, as most scientists believe. I know this is true sometimes in my life.

I hope the dream I had last night is not prophetic in any literal sense, as it ends with me having my head cut off! I want to describe it to you because it has a story-like quality that is compelling. Often I have awoken and tried to make one of my dreams into a story, but I’ve never been able to. Somehow the dreams are always, uncompromisingly, themselves.

This one began in a mountain top settlement. I no longer remember how we came to be there, but I was with a lot of people. In the night, an army of muslims came up through the dark forest with torches and swords. I slipped out of my canvas tent when I heard the sounds and hid. Many people don’t know how to hide in the woods at night, but I do. You find a pool of shadow and you hold very, very still. It is moving that reveals you. I pressed my back up against a tree behind one of the wooden shacks, and several of the men passed me by. During a moment of stillness, I took my shoes off and crept forward, deeper into a bramble thicket. I heard the people I was with being captured. There was a lot of loud shouting and torchlight flickered through the trees behind me.
In the next part of the dream, I was captured. I was in a room with all the other women who had been in the camp with me. There were probably thirty or forty of us in one long room. We were kept there for a couple of days and very little happened. Somehow, I had a baby with me. A little one who was very still and quiet and pressed his head against my shoulder and never cried.

Then, one day, guards came into the room shouting and pushed us all into the hallway to line up. A lot of the women were crying and frightened, some were just puzzled. I was pressed into the line nearest the door. The men were yelling at us to space out- we were supposed to be an arms-length apart. The baby was still in my arms. The whole scene was very confused with a lot of shouting men and crying women.
Then a man entered the room at the other end. He was vividly dressed, with a scarlet sash, and he was attractive in a dark way. His eyes were black and flashing, and he didn’t look happy. He had a drawn sword in his hand that shone like silver, and I knew instantly that he had been sent to cut off our heads. He began spinning down the line like a dervish, and with every step, someone was decapitated.

As he started this, I was drawn to a flashback in the dream. I saw that in former days, I had slipped out of the building where we were held prisoner. I had the baby pressed to my shoulder and I had run faster than I had ever run before across the street and down a grassy hillside. I wanted to throw myself down in the grass and disappear, but one of the guards was following me too closely. Instead I ran into a small lake that was at the bottom of the hill. The guard followed me.

From the lake, it was impossible to see the town where we were being held prisoner. There were two twin lakes, nearly perfectly round and still. All around them the ground rose up in hills, so it was like the lakes were held in pockets in the land. Tawny waist-high grass covered the hills from the edge of the lakes up to the horizon. It was beautiful and peaceful there. When the guard followed me into the water, I stopped on a sand bar about chest deep, and I turned away from him to nurse the baby. He did nothing to hurt me- instead he stood and spoke with me. I got the impression that he admired me- he admired my freedom and my courage.

After that, whenever we could, we slipped away down to the lake. Every time we went down there my spirits lifted like a kite. The wind came down and blew the grasses and blew my hair around my face. The guard was very gentle. He talked with me. He was falling in love with me, against his principles, against his loyalty, against his religion.

Then the flashback was over and I was again in the room with the sword man. And somehow I knew that he had argued against this course of action, but had been ordered to do this thing. His killing was as precise and emotionless as a ritual dance. I turned, and while the guards were distracted by the violence, did what I had done many times before: I slipped out the door and ran.

But this time, my guard didn’t follow me. The killer did. He tracked me across the street, between the buildings, through the grass and down to the lake. I ran out to the very middle, to a place where I could barely stand. And he followed me. As he walked into the water, all the blood was washed off of him. He became clean.  As the blood washed away, it seemed like all that was dangerous about him washed away, also.  I knew he was not going to kill me now.  Instead, he came to stand on the sand beside me. And he asked me why I came here.

As I answered him, my spirit was flung up out of my body, or my body was flung up in the air- it is hard to say which- but I was flying up over the lakes. I could see the lakes and the hills and they were so beautiful! They were unbearably beautiful, and I was telling this man, this killer, all about the beauty of this place and telling him that when I came here I felt joy and freedom. I cannot capture in words how joyful I felt to be there, to be flying- the air bore me up and I slid over it with a rapture of freedom.

Then I was back in my body, and he told me to come. He led me by the hand, very peacefully, back to the killing room. It was nearly cleaned up. Men with mops were mopping up the last of the blood.  Regretfully, the man locked me in the room we had been in before and said he would go and try to intercede for me. But he knew, and I knew even then, that he would not succeed. That they would say I had to die because of who I was, and the baby with me. It was while I was waiting for my executioner to return that Michael woke me.

I don’t know what to make of this, or of the other dream I remember from last night, that came before this one.  Dreams are supposed to be a processing by our unconscious mind of everything that had happened the day before.  Obviously none of this had happened to me before!  Or they are supposed to be communications from God to our sleeping minds.  I have had dreams that were God communicating to me.  I have also had torturous, demonic dreams.  But I don’t know what to make of this one.  It was horrifying, but the thing I mainly felt in the midst of all these circumstances was a feeling of persistent freedom.  Like no matter what they did, they didn’t have the power to keep me.  Even death didn’t frighten me, though I was a little nervous about having my head cut of with that shiny sword!  It is hard to believe, but that dream was full of a curious peace.

So there you go- make what you will of that!




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