Monday, January 25, 2016

"in restless dreams…."

"in restless dreams
I walk alone,
narrow streets
of cobblestone…"

Emiliana Torrini's hauntingly beautiful recording Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence," was waiting for me when I woke this morning. This may not be an obvious "spiritual" post. And I am not really even sure I will be able to make the written connection that I feel in my heart. But this blog is all about speaking from experience -- honest experience -- and this is mine. So here goes.

I am a prolific dreamer. This is not something I am alarmed by -- at least, not any longer. As a child I was what is referred to as a lucid dreamer. I only had to close my eyes and I would dream. Often two or more dreams at once. I was aware I was dreaming. I could turn my head and change from one dream to another -- depending on the level of terror, or joy, a particular dream was evoking at that moment. When I'd return to the dream, whatever had disturbed my peace would have passed, and I could re-engage with what brought me respite from reality.

No, I am not kidding. My childhood was pretty scary. These dreams were my escape from the "real" terror of being me, in the world I was living in.

I became very adept at initiating these dream-retreats from reality. I believed that they saved me from madness. I still do. As I grew up, and discovered prayer, I was less inclined to disappear and more willing to stay in the moment, where I would pray for clarity, courage, and a calm trust in the power of good to overthrow evil.

But there was one dream scenario that I hoped would never fully disappear from my life. In it, I walked the narrow stone streets of an ancient village. The pages I held were not in book form, but in scrolls. I read hungrily, as the sun warmed my shoulders, and the scent of lavender swarmed like honey bees around my head. 

I was often alone, but occasionally I sensed someone by my side. If I turned to look at my companion, the dream would end, and I would be back in my bunk bed, alone in the dark -- facing the terror of a long night, just waiting for dawn. If I continued -- without turning, I stayed in the warm sunshine, reading from fragile pages, until morning. At some point, I just stopped turning to see who was with me.

As childhood turned into young womanhood, the presence of this "other," was something I actively sought out when darkness threatened. If I thought that I would even catch a glimpse of "him," I would close my eyes to avoid waking. I wanted nothing to interrupt those hours of peace where I was wise, innocent, and free.

Then in 1971, I was hiding away -- tucked into the crooked arm of a tree, my little aqua transistor radio playing as I read -- when Simon and Garfunkel's 1965 hit, Sound of Silence, came on. I can't explain why I'd never caught the lyrics before -- perhaps because I'd really only heard it on the car radio with 5 other siblings talking and screaming in the backseat with me -- but for the first time they spoke directly to me. I'd been there too -- on those narrow streets, during restless dreams. I felt known.  And I felt not so alone in the universe.

I can't tell you what all this means. I only know that, suddenly,  I wasn't so lonely and afraid of my life anymore. You see, no matter how many times I'd been told that God loved me, I didn't believe the person saying it really knew what they were talking about. They were referring to a God that I could accept was loving and good. But they didn't know me, and all the darkness I had faced.  

They didn't know all the terrible things that had changed me from a little girl, to a creature who escaped her nightly terror by retreating into dreams of ancient villages and make believe stories.  I could believe all they said about God, but not that He could possibly love me.  But the "other" that I walked with in my dreams was warm, kind, quietly present.

It would be another 30 years before I would have the courage to open my eyes in a dream, and look into the face of the person who'd shadowed me during those long walks down the narrow streets of a warm village. I was not disappointed.

I guess what I am trying to say is, don't be afraid. You are not alone. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy makes this remarkable -- and deeply compassionate -- statement of encouragement:

"Whatever inspires
with wisdom, Truth, or Love 
— be it song, sermon, or Science — 
blesses the human family
with crumbs of comfort
from Christ’s table,
feeding the hungry
and giving living waters
to the thirsty."

Those dreams, and later the song that made me feel "understood," were crumbs of comfort from Christ's table for me. Now, when these dreams come in the night -- they are sweet reminders of God's love for the little girl I was, and the woman she was allowed to become.

You see, you just never know where someone is, what they are facing in the darkness, how they are navigating the narrow streets, or who they are being chased by in the night.  And you never know whether it is the "waking dream or the sleeping dream," that seems more terrifying to them.  But if you can just "be there." Silently when needed, and sometimes without a face -- but always with a prayer, there will come a time when they will find their way into the light. And they will remember -- and give thanks. I promise.

offered with Love,



  1. Love every word you write. So tender, so kind, so true.

  2. Love every word you write. So tender, so kind, so true.