GNL number 57

a report of doings at meeting #57, Sunday, February 19, 2012
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends

INVOCATION

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.
~~~Carl Jung (The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man)

A dream is a wish your heart makes…
~~~from Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty


THEME

Opening this conversation about Dreams, Ann said she had little to report on her own dreams during sleep, as she either doesn’t remember or doesn’t dream. But she commented on two other forms of dream: first, that the wish kind of dreams seem often affected by what we grow up in—family and/or cultural expectations and other influences. She also noticed her own habit of daydreaming, e.g., as a longtime bus driver. (Probably where she gets her best, most outrageous ideas.)

Anna was another who characteristically didn’t remember her dreams, but reported daydream moments when she felt very strongly that her parents were still alive. And as for the wish-dream, she didn’t recall having those feelings, and her dancing was not dream fulfillment so much a fun at the time. Later, she reported remembering one recent dream, and it was about word puzzles, and these were even harder and more frustrating than the ones she does in real life.

Vijaya doesn’t remember dreams regularly either, she said, but still recalls a very powerful one from the past, in which she, a small girl, saw her grandparents’ house burning, and two weeks later this did actually happen. She also cited a dream her father had as a young man that helped him understand some technology that led to the building of his manufacturing business. And she spoke of her own dreams of starting a cottage industry with area craftswomen, and of building a sanctuary welcome to people of all faiths.

First Sue read an email from Jill down in Florida, who wanted to take part in this Dream session too. (See AfterWords for a note on this). Then S read several quotes, Langston Hughes poems, and poetry of her own about dreams (for which also see AW), and spoke of her own dream experience. Noting her childhood exposure to the history of the Holocaust, she described fear-based dreams, pursuits by malevolent beings with knives, that continued until she struck one with a knife herself, and then the dreams stopped. She also described some vivid, positive dream/fantasies, like one where the young woman nurses a soldier back to health and then goes with him to try to build a better world.

Gail also reported having hard, frightening dreams during difficult periods, one series where she was threatened by packs of dogs repeatedly, until she turned and faced them, and they disappeared; and another set about her daughter being in danger, and feeling unable to help her. But first, Gail gave us such a lyrical description of the lovely world of sky, hills, and trees that greeted her at 7 am, that it was like a beautiful dream. And she also gave us the greeting of her mom, Ginny, who wished to be here sharing dreams with us.

Cynthia had had disturbing dreams too, and also at the most difficult moments in her life: first during Michael’s traumatic time, she was stalked in nightmares by ghostly evil personages till finally she confronted them and said no, you’re not going to get me! And more recently, when she was in medical crisis with Lyme disease, and in a dreamlike state, she felt/saw herself growing into a sunflower; then waking, with Tina there, and the crisis was over. Later, she said, she made a painting of a sunflower, and gave it to Tina.

Nancy was another who seldom remembers her dreams, but did recall her schoolage forgot-my-underwear dreams, and the feeling of flying, or bounding through the air in dreams. She read excerpts from works of Rachel Remen, and Arthur Miller, each about a life-changing dream. (See AW.) And she spoke of dream in the sense of a deep wish, sometimes not pursued or even faced; she felt rather in that category, with a largely unfollowed desire to make music, but felt also grateful to be able to show it here.

We decided today to send our offering to a brave dream turned action, the Occupy Albany movement, through The Social Justice Center in Albany.


BENEDICTION

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
~~~Oscar Wilde

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.
~~~playwright Marsha Norman


NEXT TIME

Sunday, March 11, 2011 (1030), at Vijaya’s apartment on Main Street, Cobleskill. The topic (suggested by Cynthia) is Contemplative Practices.


AFTERWORDS

from Sue:

Quotations—

“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”
~~~Paul Valery

“A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that has not been opened.”
~~~Talmud

“A dream is an answer to a question we haven’t learned to ask.”
~~~Dana Scully

“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.”
~~~ Charles William Dement

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”
~~~John Barrymore

Poems—

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers…
Bring me all of your Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.
~~~Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly
~~~Langston Hughes

dreams by susan fantl spivack

good dreams bad dreams day dreams failed
dreams walking dreams waking dreams forgotten
dreams perchance to dream unattainable dreams
chasing the American dream buried dreams your
dream dream catcher secret dreams unremembered
dreams of love and loss a true dream shadow of
a dream my dream dreamless dream boats world
of dreams repeating dreams broken dreams dreams
of glory lost in dreaming dream the answer dare to dream
dream the questions dream boy dream girl dreams
that drive men mad dream world dreamy so dreamy so
so dreamy behold this dreamer in a dream follow
your dreams this dreamer cometh dream time
lost in dreaming our dreams such stuff as dreams
are made on just a dreamer life times of delightful
dreaming merrily merrily merrily become your
dreams follow your dream when dreams come
true enjoy your dreams life is but a but a but a
dream

and from Jill, via Sue:

Jill sent a dream for us to consider: One of several vivid ones recently, she was carrying a backpack in it that was so heavy that she had to crawl ‘home’, and when she got ‘home’, her first husband was there and her youngest son, who then told her he wanted to drop out of college and become a professional skydiver! (Her dream self seemed to be ok with that.) She hopes to be back for March’s meeting.

from Nancy:

(a true story by Rachel Naomi Remen, in My Grandfather’s Blessings)

Many years ago I had an odd dream. It was only a single image, but I awoke deeply disturbed. I had no idea what the dream meant, but it felt like some sort of a message to me. It aroused strong feelings of sadness and a sense of being trapped. The image was very vivid. I saw a daffodil bulb planted in the earth. Lying on top of it was a large and very heavy rock. Because of this rock, the daffodil was unable to bloom.

For several weeks, I could not get this simple, powerful dream out of my mind, and eventually I described it to a friend who had a deep interest in dreams and their meanings. “Perhaps there is a conversation going on between the rock and the daffodil,” she said. …..With surprise, I realized I knew this conversation well. The rock was saying, “It’s a dangerous world. DON’T BLOOM! I will keep you safe.”

I began to laugh. “That rock sounds just like my father,” I told her. “And mine,” she said and asked if I could hear the other side of the conversation—-“What was the bulb saying?” “I need to bloom,” I told her. “Blooming is my whole purpose for being alive.” She frowned. “It should feel good to have that rock between you and danger, shouldn’t it?” she asked, “ But it doesn’t, really.” Suddenly my eyes filled with tears. I had no idea why. We let the matter drop there. From time to time I would think about it, and once I dreamt it again. It was just as disturbing.

Some years later I was agonizing over a major career change. The stress of this decision became intense, and one morning I awoke with a severe pain in my back. After the third or fourth day, I went to see my doctor, who told me that the pain did not correspond with anything anatomical he knew about. The pain went on for weeks. Finally someone suggested I consult an acupuncturist..…This was not the usual thing to do at that time, but I had become desperate and so I had gone. Dr. Rossman ran his finger lightly down my back. When he touched the place that was hurting, the pain was so intense that I cried out. “Ah, he said, “ this is an acupuncture point. The life energy is stuck here.” …..As soon as I felt the needle, the old, half-forgotten image of the daffodil bulb and the rock reappeared to me with extraordinary clarity. Suddenly I understood how the rock felt. The rock was afraid to let the bulb bloom. It knew the daffodil’s value and was determined that it must not come to harm. If it bloomed and became visible, it could be hurt. I also understood for the first time that if it did bloom, the daffodil might die.

Survival was a high priority in our family. My father, and indeed many other members of my family, had been made fearful of life by the Depression and the war. They had become experts at surviving. Surviving was a question of tenacity, of putting safety above all other considerations. Living, on the other hand, was a matter of passion and risk. Of finding something important and serving it. Of doing whatever was needed in order to live out loud.

As a child of my family, I had not understood the difference in this way before. Perhaps survival was not the goal of life at all. As I anxiously began to wonder if it was possible to protect something without stopping the life in it, in my mind’s eye the rock spontaneously began to change its shape. As I watched in surprise, slowly it became taller and thinner and more transparent until I realized it was becoming a greenhouse. Inside it, the daffodil bulb put out a spike and bloomed. The yellow of the flower was extraordinary—as if it were made not of petals but of light. Lying there on Dr.Rossman’s table, I began to weep.

In the blink of an eye, things had turned inside out. The reason the rock had given the bulb for not blooming was the very reason it was important to bloom. It was a dangerous world, a world of suffering, loneliness, and loss. Daffodils were needed.

My family had actually cultivated fear. After I was bitten by a stray dog as a child and underwent a painful series of rabies shots, I became terrified of all dogs. My father encouraged this, believing that it would keep me safe. It had never occurred to me before that fear might be the wrong sort of protection.

After the first treatment, my pain never came back. When I revisited Dr. Rossman to discuss this with him, he told me that the acupuncture point where my life energy had been blocked was called the “Heart Protector”.

Shortly afterward, I left my secure and respectable faculty position at Stanford and moved down the peninsula to join with others who also dreamt of finding a new way to practice medicine.

Perhaps finding the right protection is the first responsibility of anyone hoping to make a difference in this world. Caring deeply makes us vulnerable. You cannot move things forward without exposure and involvement, without risk and process and criticism. Those who wish to change things may face disappointment, loss, or even ridicule. If you are ahead of your time, people laugh as often as they applaud, and being there first is usually lonely. But our protection cannot come between us and our purpose. Right protection is something within us rather than something between us and the world, more about finding a place of refuge and strength than finding a hiding place.

(and these lines from the play After the Fall, by Arthur Miller)
…..I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of oneself. One day the house smells of fresh bread, the next of smoke and blood. One day you faint because the gardener cuts his finger off, within a week you’re climbing over the corpses of children bombed in a subway. What hope can there be if that is so? I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned each night until I dared not go to sleep and grew quite ill. I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes. Until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible…but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one’s life in one’s arms.

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