My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
Sometimes the week is a collective of hard things. Things that, if I'm honest, I rail against. I feel self-pity. I have a dress rehearsal as the victim of "Life Most Unfair." The title of my imaginary play is apt. The client's son died a year ago at age four, and she misses him. "I sit in his room sometimes,"she says. "I remember him laughing. I still see him laughing."
Another day I bite down on a Skittle. I never eat Skittles. It is purple. My tooth breaks. My tongue keeps darting to the tooth's ragged edge, even with the bonding material the gentle dentist placed on it for a temporary repair before the crown can be affixed. I looked at that little sliver of white in my palm when I bit down hard and realized it wasn't the shell of the purple Skittle. Such a small thing to break.
Broken hearts. Broken teeth. Where does God fit into the cracked places? Does he speak to us?
Another dream. I'd been out working with a young man (some type of mission work, no less). I was tired and looked forward to relaxing. But when I returned home, there wasn't a door on the house--just an open rectangle. My husband was on his hands and knees applying some type of gooey substance to the tile floor. I felt burdened that our home was filled with overwork. I'd literally be glued and stuck there by the gooiness on the floor--rest impossible.
Over my years in interpreting my own dreams, I've learned from the late John Paul Jackson of Streams Ministries to "flip" the dark ones. In other words, when the dream is shadowy and gray, what would the opposite dynamic be? In this particular dream I felt smudged with dread, confidence in self-effort and performance-based acceptance (mission work), guilt, shame, weariness, powerlessness and hopelessness. The flip, what God would have for me is: hope for the future, awareness that I'm the beloved of God with unconditional acceptance, consciousness of grace and forgiveness rather than sin consciousness, rest, peace and holy confidence that Christ is in me and I in Him. The "flip" is a way to create a door to keep the distorted and shadowy thinking at bay.
Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.~Alan Keightley
Finally (Finalmente! as they say in Italy) we felt better--could get out of the house and go somewhere. Still weak from a dreadful cold, but no longer contagious, Giovanni and I ventured over to Il Museo Del Violino--The Violin Musuem. Cremona, my husband's hometown, is also the home of Antonio Stradivari who lived and made violins during his lifetime in this little gem of a city. Even today there is a school in Cremona where people come from all over the world to learn the craft of makng violins.
And so that day we toured myriad rooms of violins encased in glass and watched with fascination video clips of how violins are made. We read the handwritten notes of Stradivari himself. We ended our tour in an intimate, state-of-the-art auditorium where we waited for a vilionist to take the stage. There weren't many of us in the audience--Giovanni and me, a small cadre of elderly women, and a few grammar school students. I could the hear the whispers of our little group, like the quiet murmuring of water gliding over stones in a river bed. And then she appeared.
Stop trying to work things out before their times have come. Accept the limitations of living one day at a time.~Sarah Young
I remember being fascinated that my late, mostly lab Emma, would spend countless hours on the couch looking out the living room window. She loved this "activity." Sometimes she would doze, other times she would emit a few barks if a squirrel scampered across the grass. Often I would note her head moving from side to side as if scanning for something important. I loved that she could remain peaceful with such rudimentary entertainment.
During my second week in Italy I found myself in a similar situation. Learning from Emma. I awakened one morning of that second week feeling horrible. I'd felt exhausted and weak the night before, but believed it was from a busy day of visiting and walking in the brisk air of the little town of Cremona, near our house in the Italian countryside. This was not the case. I could barely breathe, yet my nose ran like a faucet. I felt like someone had stepped on me. Flattened. I knew I wasn't strong enough to carry out the day's activities. "Giovanni, I have to cancel our plans with your sister." And so Giovanni left me there supplied with "fazzoletti" (Kleenex) and cold medication to recover.
A kitten begins dreaming at about one week old.~Sign on a local vet's office
And like the kitten, I dreamed while in Italy--the first night in our little house that was like a sanctuary. In the dream, I saw a blue door with a prominent doorknob. I lay hold of the knob. It felt large under my palm. It was heavy. I gave it a good twist and heard the hopeful click of a door opening. (Is there not a better sound, especially when you fear the disappointment of a locked portal?). I pushed the door open and stepped over the threshold, and then was awake.
Blue in dream symbolism is the color for grace. And in other ways as the trip unfolded, it seemed to symbolize the color of peace. Other times when I'd been to Italy, I felt almost constant anxiety, especially because I had such trouble understanding and speaking the language. At family gatherings my hands would sweat profusely, and I felt so panicky, what little language I knew and understood would fly out of my brain. I went mute. This time, though, I kept telling myself, "Just walk through the blue door. Breathe. Be mindful of the love around you. Be kind with what words you have. Ask open-ended questions. Smile." And so this worked. It was as if a warm breeze kept blowing through my mind reminding me of truth. The Holy Spirit, no doubt.