My sister-in-law, Lisa Redfern's recording of "Oh, Dreamer," is the perfect accompaniment for this post. And, I so love her voice.
Two weeks ago I was facing a demanding travel schedule. In order to be at the airport early on the day of my departure, I made plans to drive over the pass the day before, have dinner with my sister, and stay the night with her and her sweet husband.
After a lovely evening we all turned in and I was grateful to fall asleep quickly and peacefully -- as I was anticipating very little sleep during my 25 hours of in-flight travel the next day.
About two hours later I woke with a start. I was feeling the symptoms of something coming on. The symptoms were aggressive and the thought of heading into that demanding weekend-- so physically challenged -- was alarming. Immediately I began praying for clarity and freedom. Although the symptoms persisted, my prayers were actually quite joyful.
At some point I must have dozed off in the middle of my prayers because again, I woke with a start. This time I was drenched in a cold sweat. "Oh my gosh," I thought, "I don't want to disappoint Alison." Alison is the Ranch Director at a summer camp near our home in the mountains. I'd dreamed that I was supposed to bring two elephants from camp to the Denver airport for her, and I couldn't figure out how to fit them in my car. The feeling of panic was visceral. It had woken me up, and I was actually -- physically -- covered in damp perspiration.
Then, within moments, I was fully awake. Whew! I was in my sister's house. There were no elephants. I had not promised Alison that I would bring two elephants to the airport. Because, there were no elephants. I sat up and giggled quietly. It was just what I needed.
There were no elephants -- and there were no symptoms. Both were dreams that I could wake up from. Within a few moments the perspiration had dried, and I realized that I was also fully free of all of the symptoms that had seemed so real only an hour before.
Over the course of that weekend, there were many issues that presented themselves for healing. Each time I reminded myself:
"there are no elephants..."
And each time it broke the mesmerism -- the suggestions that tried - over and over again - to convince me that whatever I was "dreaming," was actually going on. I simply needed to wake up - more fully - to the truth of God's omnipresent goodness and harmony.
It was helpful to remember that panic I had felt that night in my sister's house -- it had felt so real. The perspiration that had drenched my nightgown -- it too had felt so real. But it was all based on a false premise -- the premise that there were elephants that needed to be taken to the airport. And from that premise, the human mind had projected a whole story about how I wouldn't be able to get them in the car, and how, if I couldn't, Alison would be disappointed in me, and then I would feel horrible for disappointing her. When, in fact -- there were no elephants. Without the elephants, my car wasn't too small, and Alison's disappointment in me vanished.
It's the same when we find ourselves feeling symptoms of fever, or pain, or depression. The human mind thinks those feelings are as real as the perspiration that drenched my nightgown, or the rapid beating of my heart. Then it -- the human mind -- works backwards searching for a cause. But just as there were no elephants to legitimize the cause of my panic and perspiration, there was no legitimate cause for the symptoms of illness -- that seemed as real as the perspiration on my nightgown. When I could see that both were a dream, the symptoms disappeared even more quickly than the perspiration dried.
One of the "dreams" I had to challenge on this trip was the one that said, "Kate, you never sleep on planes. It is impossible. Your legs are too short to reach the floor, and the angle of the seat makes it impossible to find a comfortable position. And since you will have no time to sleep, once you get to your destination you are going to be too tired to do what you are going there to do. And that doesn't even account for jet lag."
But, as I sat in my seat on the plane that night I thought, "there are no elephants." What that meant to me was that there was no reason -- no basis for -- why I could not rest peacefully on this flight. So I found the small travel pillow in my bag, laid my head back, and within minutes I was fast asleep. And according to the woman in the seat next to me, I slept peacefully -- and without fitfulness -- for the next nine hours. When I awoke, I was rested, and could hardly believe that we were being told to prepare for landing.
So much of our lives are spent in a semi-wakefulness. We go about our day like sleepwalkers. Lulled into believing that we are supposed to transport elephants, over a mountain, in the back of a Toyota. When there are no elephants!
In her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy offers this profound observation:
"Lulled by stupefying illusions,
the world is asleep in the cradle of infancy,
dreaming away the hours.”
And in her Miscellaneous Writings 1883 - 1896 she further assures us that:
"Waking from a dream,
one learns its unreality;
then it has no power over one."
Sleeping can be lovely, and dreaming fun. But when we are awake, we have the right to be fully awake, and to know that we are awake. It's important to claim our right to leave those dreams for joyful waking. To rise and sing, "I am free." We have the inalienable right to know that there are no elephants.
offered with Love,