These next couple weeks until Epiphany are going to include a lot of Dream-Work. I’m sifting through the messages and images and questions presented in my dreams during this Liminal time to formulate my word or phrase or token to carry with me for the coming year.
Last night’s dream:
I am on a sort of retreat with friends at a house in a little mountain town. I sleep in a cramped little chair bed, although there are plenty of spacious and comfortable beds and couches and recliners all over the house, and my neck is stiff. The basement smells like a musty bathroom. I feel like my friends are accusing me of having created the stench, but I explain that it’s because of the old pipes in the basement bathroom.
My parents have decided to come pick me up. Even though it feels a little intrusive, I am excited to see them, and grateful that they’re coming. We decide to drive around the little town. I recognize it from previous dreams. It might even be the same town from the previous night’s dream that I was so sure was Lancaster.
When we get back to the house, some distant cousins are driving up to the house. I don’t recognize them from waking life, but in the dream, they’re a close connection from childhood. They’re conservative Mennonites. Only the father of the family is wearing a mask, and I suddenly realize that I am also unmasked. As I get out of the car, the mother rushes up to hug me, and I am frantically trying to pull my shirt up over my nose. She doesn’t notice or care, and wraps me in a giant hug, but I am pulling away and trying to cover my face. They’re in a hurry to get going, so they rush off. (This is the only point in my dream where masks seem to matter.)
While we’re getting ready to go into the house, the Evangelist drives up. He’s a famous evangelical Christian evangelist (not one I recognize from waking life). He’s attractive and charming. He’s wearing a fashionably rumpled brown wool suit. It’s like someone in the 1940s might wear–like a hip and dashing college boy, not a stuffy banker. He is charming and attractive and he knows it. And he knows we know it. It’s like a private joke between us. The press are snapping pictures and yelling questions. He’s posing and vamping for the camera, cracking jokes and being charming. His hair falls just so over his forehead. Then he gets sort of quiet and serious, and says that he has predicted the exact moment of the return of Jesus. Then he goes into the house, vamping and posing all the way.
We go inside to pack up my things. I have to remember to take the artwork that’s up on top of the wardrobe. It’s a six or seven foot high piece of lace, tacked onto a wooden frame. The pattern in the lace is of Jesus, and I have painted colors onto the lace to clarify the image.
Then I wake up.
My Dream-spinner seems to have been trying to organize some thoughts about Christians. I feel like she sent me tropes, like I already know this lesson, thanks. The loving and caring plain people of my childhood are ignoring mask mandates intended to keep people safe. The evangelical evangelisti are shallow and vampy and charming. Despite my disillusionment with so many of the forms of Christianity today, I have my own carefully and artfully crafted image of Jesus that I need to remember to take with me. I’ve started with the abstract images that others have created, and have filled in the lines and colors to create an image that makes sense to me. Some of my people may think my idea of Jesus is too fragile and insubstantial, and others will think it cheesy, like a painting of Elvis on velvet, but I am fond of it, and I keep it quietly in my own room.
I need to ponder how I am also the judgmental friends, the scofflaw Mennonites, the vampy Evangelist. After the first scenes at the house where I was at the retreat, the rest of the events of the dream seemed to happen to me and around me, and I took much more of an observer role.
What threads do I pull out to keep in my Dream Bundle? What messages rise to the surface? Jesus is a pretty strong thread. Community in many forms (with my friends, my family, the long-ago childhood connections, the town, the media). There’s the Charming but Shallow Evangelist (I think this is a message about my Leo energy).
“Stay close to those who sing, tell stories, and enjoy life, and whose eyes sparkle with happiness. Because happiness is contagious and will always manage to find a solution, whereas logic can find only an explanation for the mistake made.” —Paulo Coelho
“Souls love. That’s what souls do. Egos don’t, but souls do. Become a soul, look around, and you’ll be amazed —all the beings around you are souls. Be one, see one. When many people have this heart connection, then we will know that we are all one, we human beings all over the planet. We will be one. One love. And don’t leave out the animals, and trees, and clouds, and galaxies—it’s all one. It’s one energy.” —Ram Dass
“We’re all just walking each other home.” —Ram Dass (1931-2019)
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” —Ram Dass
“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.” —Ram Dass
“Your problem is you’re… too busy holding onto your unworthiness.” —Ram Dass
“Only that in you which is me can hear what I’m saying.” —Ram Dass
“We’re fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” —Ram Dass
“Start from where you are—not where you wish you were. The work you’re doing becomes your path.” —Ram Dass
“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”
“We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness. True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources. In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.” —Wendell Berry
“Sincerity? I can fake that.” —Hawkeye Pierce
“There is a way of beholding nature that is in itself a form of prayer.” —Diane Ackerman
“The best way to know God is to love many things.”
―Vincent van Gogh