When the Container Breaks

Recently I found this dream recorded April 13, 1997,in a letter I had written the day after the dream to my friend, F.  The letter that I do not recall writing lay in a file and it was quite by surprise I happened upon it last week.

 

Bound to a Red Destiny

 

Dream: I was in my workshop, my woodworking shop at the time in real life.  I had a can of acid or lacquer thinner in my hands. It broke in two and the acid spilled over my hands and down the front of me and onto my dog Jack who was with me onto his head and back.  I did not act quickly but sort of in a sleep walk state—I went to the sink and filled a bucket with water and soap.  It was the kind of automatic calm that can overtake you in an emergency.  There was a rag with a lot of soap powder on it.  I was holding Jack in a tight embrace, washing his head and back with the soapy rag. This part of the dream was so visual—there were already big scabs formed on his head and I remember thinking how I must have waited a long time to wash him and the acid must have really burned his head and back to already have formed scabs. It must have laid on him full strength a long time. The water bucket fell over a couple of times while I was washing him and I had to stop to right it. The water went everywhere and under things and I kept wondering if anything had gotten ruined from it, but I felt out of control to attend to everything and I felt myself unable to do anything about so many things, like the situation was bigger than me and the only tangible thing was this dog and myself. Perhaps I had been cleaning myself off during this time but I don’t remember. At this point in the dream my friend, F’s voice came in as an overlay like a radio broadcast.  She was telling me a story she had heard on NPR about a man who had been whipped by his commanding officer for some failure on his part, and then ordered to whip the men under his command. And that while the whipped officer was whipping his own men, as he perspired, the wounds from his own flogging stung and glistened with sweat and heat. I woke up with my arms tightly wound over my chest still holding Jack to soothe him.  Jack allowed this tight enclosure around himself so sweetly as if he had abandoned himself to me completely.

The soul is a strange doctor. It reads you your cure in reading you your turmoil and anguish.  It slows the meter down and drip-by-drip you see the eventuality of your spirit.  Your body and mind and feelings in a pile-up on the expressway, but the beauty of its telling is its fondness for you, the tightest embrace, utterly human in dimension.

It is nineteen years since the dream occurred. A big cycle of completion. And nineteen years later I see more clearly that Life is largely holding paradoxes in our hands.  Things break.  Containers of love break.  Love contains darkness and light. It contains pain and joy, despair and hope, it contains vulnerability, it contains sweetness and surrender. Love contains everything. And when its container breaks in our hands, for no apparent reason or perhaps we are holding it too tightly, perhaps we are not paying attention— who knows but it breaks, the paradoxes of love and life spill over us, we get burned AND we are held tightly in that wounding AND we heal.  In the dream I feel surprise that the burns Jack has experienced have already begun to scab over. Jack surrenders completely to being washed and held. He is my model and guide.  I feel overwhelmed and only able to attend to the burns and the washing.  I feel that no matter what else has happened this is my task.  The soap powder is mysteriously already on the rag.  The water spills over and over in the dream soaking everything running everywhere.  Life’s essence the souls essence is uncontainable; it is what cleans us washes us heals us.

The man who is whipped because of a personal failure is ordered to whip his own men and while he is carrying out his orders he feels his own wounds smarting, glistening in the heat and sweat. He does not protest, but he feels this pain in his own awareness and the pain has made him conscious; through his pain he is learning about his own humanity, his failings and his anguish. A thoroughly human being and a true warrior.

 

 

 

The Woman Who Is a Complete Human Being

Reflected Love One of the most heartbreaking realities in our culture is the fact that all of us have grown up with and been taught to see our worth and our essence through the reflections back from family, lovers, institutions, job performance, career success or failure, how we look, to name a few.

And from these erroneous assessments we go on to believe that we are something inferior; not the beautiful Beings of light that we are, but somehow always on the outside of a perfection that we perceive to be in others or in the future but not now, not in ourselves. We go on to attack ourselves in this way, continually trying to fix ourselves, to fit in with others, social situations, public institutions, in order to feel that we are okay.

As women growing up in this culture the reflection often is fused with how one looks, or acts or if we are acceptable in the roles we have taken on. And so even our sexuality becomes a torment of trying to be something for others and in doing so we subjugate ourselves to something we perceive as a measuring tool for our goodness.

I went to hear Robert Waterman speak, an original founder of Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM last year. The title and prologue of his talk, drew me in a powerful way:

The Good That is Seeking You from Within

"The fear began when, in our curiosity, we stepped away from ourselves. The sensation of separation, while initially exciting, settled in as fear. From then on, we interpreted love through its reflections. Reflected love is a contrary and perverse partner. Love itself continued below the surface, growing in stature, yet undetected by fear. Our addiction and defense of fear masquerade as a dark lover. All this time, and we are ancient, while we fought the dragon, love continued to mature within us. On the surface we have come to believe we are experts, which effectively hides from our awareness the true mastery by which we guide our lives. When we discover how we actually make our lives, living from love is easy and powerful."ROBERT WATERMAN

I was personally and deeply touched by Waterman’s workshop that day. He is a calm very humble man whose presence is an abiding loving one.

Linley Solari of Taos, also attended this workshop and wrote a clear summary of the day’s offering by Waterman, which I include here in part:

“…And then he[Waterman] began, in earnest, by saying that our discomfort, our pain, our fear, our anger, our confusion is NEVER about what is actually happening but lies solely with our relationship to what is happening. “The difficulty is never the issue; it’s our relationship to the issue.”

“EVERYTHING is a reflection back to us, “he said. “It is not something to be judged or fixed or defended or protected. You are not something trying to find God…that is the reflection. You are already God trying to find itself in this world.”

What Waterman was addressing is the basic and fundamental split in our psyche between what we hold ourselves to be and what we actually are. We have all been hypnotized through thousands of years of imprinting into believing we are something separate from the foundational intelligence of the universe. We have all come to believe in the innate limitation and inadequacy of the individuatedself. And so we seek…we seek to find “something” in the “outside” world that will make us feel adequate: love, sex, money, family, knowledge, status, religion, accomplishment, power. We are seeking to somehow complete what we feel is incomplete: our very selves. “We interpret Love through its reflections.”—End of Solari’s summary.

the nature of illness

the nature of illness

Here is the dream I wish to end this year with…it is a celebration of human existence as learned from the woman in this dream. I pass it along to you.

2013   The Woman Who Is A Complete Human Being

I dream I am at a sitting with M and 3 other people, another woman and two men. M is sitting facing us and we are sitting 4 square facing him. The room is without light, it seems to be twilight. There is a knocking sound against the building. The woman behind me thinks there may be someone at the door. I know it is a tree branch but I cannot control my body from responding. My body crawls down to the floor and out of the room. When I cross the threshold I am facing an open door and it is broad daylight. I am in a beach town and the air and light have that quality and color to it. I walk out the door turning right without any idea where I am going. I wonder how or if I will remember how to get back here. I meet a child and she takes me to a house of an older woman. I met these woman years ago-she remembers what I wore, a silk shirt that she admired. The woman is lying on her back. A man friend is there who is my age, and she is showing him her chest, that is bleeding below where her left breast has been removed. Both her breasts are completely gone. The scars are there and her chest looks like a battleground-it is purpled with bruises and blood is seeping from below her breast scar. I am reminded of the portraits of Jesus on the cross. I don’t know if she has an infection or the wound is still healing. She shows this to him without any self-pity. To simply reveal herself. Then she is standing up and she has with her in her hands two of her favorite objects, which she seems to be gifting to him. One is a silver pen that she holds in her left hand. The pen looks like nothing I have seen before. It is about an inch and half wide, it is tapered at each end, it bulges a bit in the center. The ends that are tapered look a bit like the feather but it is symmetrical and very unusual. In her other hand she is holding a piece of silk, a small square of it about a foot square or a little smaller. The silk is gold but luminous gold, luminous from within the weave of the material. I love the realness of this person, and she strikes me as a complete and total human being, not simply a woman although she is certainly that.   I find I love her relationship to the man, the child and to life. It imprints me. I go to leave and as I walk out I think I am going back the way I came but I gradually see that the numbers are getting larger in the addresses and I see that I will not be going back the way I came. I feel at peace to be somewhere so foreign.

This dream in a way speaks for itself. I still see and feel the woman’s chest, my chest. I feel as if she lives inside of me and as if this potential is the most human and most awakened part of me. All that it means to be a real human being. The wounds, the pen, and the silk. Our human journey including our injuries, our creative ability to express ourselves and the essential fabric of our existence—the golden and luminous truth of who and what we are.

We can relearn our understanding of ourselves, our real selves, and begin to see that in others, honoring the truth of our realities to one another and to our children.

star gazers

star gazers

I wish you a very peaceful holiday full of joy and promise and renewal.

Patti