What Have You Done?

I think all people dream.  I have read many explanations for dreams, but the most consistent and logical to me is that it is the brain’s clean-up crew processing, storing and  discarding data that you stored in a “temporary drive” during your waking hours.   Dreams may seem illogical or totally surreal, but that’s because your brain is dealing with what we call reality in a different way.  Sometimes, I think, our dreams are also a window into something else.  What that something else is may be different to each individual, or it may be a Jungian collective consciousness.

Recurring dreams are probably not the result of the brain’s clean-up crew, but something at the core of your mind, soul, or both.  I think they are a communication either from your deepest “self”, or from the vast, unseen force many of us call God.  I have had, or at least remember, three recurring dreams in my life.  In the first, which occurred over a period of several years starting in my late twenties, I was standing on a walkway, porch or deck of rough-hewn wood, looking out over a heavily wooded fjord or lake.  Behind me I sensed a cabin or similar structure.  While I could not see it, I knew it was there, and the lights from its windows illuminated the area I was standing in.  The weather was crisp, and the location was obviously far north of the Florida in which I lived at the time. The only sounds were the wind in the evergreens, a distant Whippoorwill,  and a sound from the cabin behind me of someone washing dishes.  There was no interaction with another person, and while there was a sense of time,  neither the scenery nor any other thing actually changed.  As I recall, I experienced this dream on a fairly regular basis over a period of two or three years.  After each night that the dream occurred, I would search my memory for any subtle changes or any clues to the meaning of the dream.  The only conclusion that I ever seriously entertained was that, at that time in my life, I was looking for peace and tranquility and could find it nowhere.

The second recurring dream was not only much simpler, but occurred in a much shorter time-span.  For a period of two or three weeks during my early forties, I had this dream almost every night.  A face would appear before me.  There was no background, at least that I can remember, just the face of a Black man who I would describe as a Rastafarian by his long dreadlocks and clothing.  While the man projected this singular appearance, there was no mistaking in my mind that the person in front of me was actually Christ.  He slowly and articulately spoke one sentence while looking directly into my eyes: “If you cannot love him, you cannot love me”.  Unlike what I have labeled my “cabin dream”, I really didn’t need to ponder the meaning of this one.  For whatever the actual meaning of the cabin dream, this one was obviously tailored for my simple mind.  I did find it curious that at the time, I was not having any difficulty with any work relationships or any other relationships with any African-Americans.

The third, and last recurring dream has been more infrequent, but has been over a much greater timespan.  For several years now, I have been confronted in my sleep with a short, compact man of what I would call Middle-Eastern heritage.  Somewhat weather-beaten, with curling black hair and a rough, untrimmed beard, he looks directly at me, just as the Rasta-man did, and says “What have you done?”  This is not delivered in an accusatory tone, as if I have just wrecked my car, but as an inquiry.  There is no mistaking, in my mind, that the personage of this third recurring dream is the same as in the second.  What have I done?

I need to think much harder about that question.

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I’m Going to Shock You!

I’ve been holding back (here) for a long time.  I wrote back in June of this year that some of my viewpoints were in a state of flux.  Actually, it’s been far more critical than that.

Am I a “flip-flopper”?  You decide.  If so, I’m in great company.  When St. Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus, he travelled the eastern Mediterranean persecuting Christians, or as they were called then “Followers of the Way”.  Before a political conversion, Ronald Reagan was a rabid, pro-union liberal.  In fact, he was the president of a union himself.  Here goes –

For about two years, I have been wrestling with the indisputable fact that many of the political beliefs that I promoted every day were either  against foundational principles that I hold dear, or beliefs that were created by emotion rather than thought.  This violated an extremely important principle to me.  That principle is: Thought before emotion!  I tell people “I don’t care how you ‘feel’ about something; tell me what you think about it!”  I was violating my own chief tenet.

First, while all people are not actually equal, with equal abilities, physical strength, etc., they are all equal in the eyes of God.  I had forgotten that, or at least ignored it.  Also, I was drifting into a philosophical position that events in my own life proved was a false premise.  That position was atheism.  I can clearly point to five times in my life when I acted directly  contradictory to my personality and psychological makeup for no apparent reason, and it saved my life, either immediately or over time.  This does not even take into consideration the numerous times I have made a decision against what I would at the time have considered logic, and it lead me on a far better path than what would have resulted had I stayed the course.  These occurrences were not “coincidence”.  I’m not even sure that I believe in coincidence.  Some force caused this to happen.

I have chosen to call this force God.  Some may call it something else, or dismiss it altogether.  I don’t.  Due to my early love of Mediterranean archaeology, I have always been interested in religion, specifically the Judeo/Christian/Islamic world of the Eastern Mediterranean.  But I was not actually “religious”.  I saw these institutions as forces that ordered society.  Sometimes I participated, sometimes I did not.  Thirty-odd years ago, I began to study Hinduism, which lead me to Buddhism.  I talked to a Zen priest where I lived at the time, and he said something to me which I thought inexplicable.  “You can find your answers, but do it through your own religious tradition.”  I didn’t understand that at all.  I knew where the answers were, and the gatekeeper had slammed the door in my face.  I’m sure that he knew this day would come.

Decades later, I found myself immersed in the world of “conservative” politics, where frankly, many fervently identify as Evangelical Christians, and yet dishonor the Sermon on the Mount daily by not only not practising what Christ taught, but by actively working against it.  And yet they were doing nothing that I wasn’t doing.  They were molding their religious beliefs around their politics.  So was I, such that I even had religious beliefs at all.  When did a conservative politico work at a community kitchen or homeless shelter except ten minutes for a photo op?  When have I ever?  For any reason?  We conservatives love to crucify progressives every day for denying facts that “don’t fit the narrative”.  We are monumental hypocrites!

I am not shouting from a mountain top that I have changed.  I am whispering that I am going to attempt to live a life that will, hopefully, make other people’s lives a little easier, and try to honor He who created me.  Any way I can.  I cannot “make up” for what I have done in 62 years.  I know enough about the teachings of Christ to know that this is both impossible and unnecessary.  My family and friends  may see subtle changes in me.  You may notice a difference in these blogs.  I hope you do.  If not, I have dishonored that power who saved me so many times, so many years ago.