Not Who You Are

Jennifer and I were on the second floor of a very familiar house. A man was holding us at gunpoint. Another man held a group of about fifty young adults (between the ages of, say, twelve and twenty-five) downstairs. Jennifer, being Jennifer, waited until the man’s attention waned, then said to me, “Go. I’m right behind you.” Without an instant’s hesitation, I fled through a maze of rooms and doors until I came to a window. I crawled out onto a small ledge that ran the length of the side of the house. I slowly moved across the ledge, then took a deep breath and jumped to the ground, tumbling as I landed. Just as I regained my composure and stood, Jennifer had made it to the ledge and tumbled down beside me. I didn’t ask her what she had done to the man. I knew she hadn’t killed him; but I knew he wouldn’t be following us.

We carefully made our way around the house. The first floor had walls made entirely of glass, so we were ducking behind trees and bushes trying to find a way into the house to help the kids. I found a side door, and we waited, watching as the other man pushed the kids outside and locked the door. He made them lie on the ground, but the were laughing and making weird gestures.

When we came to the main room of the first floor, Jennifer and I found a stash of golden vials. We opened one, sniffed it, and Jennifer said, “Dust.” He meant to poison the kids. I told her to watch the door, and I began emptying the vials into the sink, rinsing them, and refilling them with water. The kids noticed us then, so the man came to the door. He opened it long enough to struggle with Jennifer, pushing her outside in his place, and locking her and the kids out.

Then he ran at me, screaming vulgar things, and pummeled me to the ground. I didn’t fight him. He just hit me, over and over, telling me what a fool I was, and how the kids needed his help, and that I would die for my actions. But he was weeping as he beat me. I reached up and touched the side of his face. “That’s not who you are,” I said. He hit me again. I let him. I took his face in both hands this time, and said, “You are a child of God! You are lovely!” He stood and kicked me, and wept, and swore at me. “God’s heart yearns for you!” I said. He kicked me in the face, but had no strength left, so he crumpled to the ground beside me, weeping. I took his face in my hands and said, “You are created in His image…you belong to Him!”

And suddenly, he looked me in the eye, and his face changed. It was a woman. A woman with straight lines on her face and dark hair. She was young–certainly no older than me. All of her tears were gone. “I thought I could save them,” she said to me, “I thought I could make them forget.”

“They don’t need to forget,” I answered, embracing her. “They need to remember…and drink fresh water…and live.”

Jennifer opened the door then, and the kids followed her back into the house. Jennifer said to me, “Sarah Rattai was right!”

I woke up this morning, with a clear idea of what this dream meant. The house was so familiar to me, though I cannot recall any details of it. I don’t think it’s a house that exists; it was only important that it was familiar. Regardless, I am curious if anything about this dream jumps out at anyone else? Try not to psycho-analyze Jennifer…this was my dream, not hers.

What Is It You Seek?

One of my dreams last night led me to a garden island with a clear river dividing it north to south and a small pool at the very center. I knew the water couldn’t be very deep, but somehow I was certain that if I fell in, I would be lost in its depths forever. A woman (at least, I think she was a woman) stood behind me, taller than any person I’ve ever seen, and thin.

“What is it you seek?” she asked.

“My heart,” I replied.

She touched my chest and I could feel my heart burn inside of me, as if it were melting at her touch.

“I know it is there,” I said. “I don’t know what it is.”

She touched my chest again, and I almost couldn’t stand the feeling that my melting heart was trickling down through my body. She left me then, and I was alone at the pool. But somehow, I knew what I had to do. I ripped open my chest and pulled out my heart–which was not a heart, but a red gem. I laid the gem into the shallow pool, and the clear water dissolved into red.

And then the red water became an image that was ever-changing. It was a melody. It was a scent. It was a word. It was a flower. It was a teacher. It was a student. It was a family. It was a book. It was passion. It was sleepless.

On and on the image changed, until the water calmed back to its normal color and the red gem that was my heart tumbled out of the water and to my feet. The woman was beside me again.

“What will you do with it?” She asked.

I was afraid, so I woke up.


Not desires or pursuits, but dreams.

Two nights ago, I dreamed an odd dream. It was me. All I could see of myself was my head, shoulders, and hair. I wasn’t smiling or frowning; my face was expressionless and calm. My hair was down, which was odd, because I almost never wear my hair down anymore. I was against a light-colored backdrop of some sort. It looked like a soft and fuzzy blanket. And I was wearing red. The odd part of the dream is this: I was speaking. Now, I know this doesn’t make sense, but try to stay with me. It was as if my body were separate from itself. The part that was speaking was me, but I was seeing and hearing through a separate me, if that makes sense. It was as if I were having a conversation with myself, except only one me was speaking. Anyway, the me that was speaking was not speaking English, which is odd, because I don’t speak but a smidgen of French, and I don’t know any other language well enough to hold any semblance of a conversation. And more oddly, I didn’t recognize the language. If it had been Russian or Latin or Pidgin or Japanese, I would have recognized it. Are you ready for the really odd part? In the dream, the me that was being spoken to understood everything that the me who was speaking was saying–but the me that understood it, didn’t understand it in English. It wasn’t as if I heard it and thought of it in English; I just understood what the other me was saying. I will tell you, it was so calming and filled me with peace. It sounded like music to me.

That was two nights ago. Well, last night–or this morning, rather–I was having the same dream! The only difference was that this time, as I was listening to the other me speak, something was stinging on my left cheek. I kept reaching up to push it away. Whatever it was, it hurt. I grew very restless as the other me was speaking, and finally in a moment of panic, I woke up to find that Mullins (my cat) was laying on my side and was thumping her tail on my cheek to get me to pet her.

What are the chances that I would have the same dream two nights in a row? Does it mean something? Or was the second dream more of a memory of the first dream because I had been trying to figure out what the first dream might have meant?

And…does anybody else have odd dreams like this that make them feel as if they are supposed to know or do something, but they don’t know what?

all that burns

All that burns is not on fire.

Yesterday evening, I was sitting at the kitchen table. I was listening to an old Amy Grant Christmas cassette (yes, a cassette tape; remember those?), drinking tea, burning a candle, writing a letter to Jack, and smelling the cool Autumn breeze coming in from the back door. Both of the cats were up on the table demanding attention. Fernando, Senior Floof, was interested in the flame of the candle and went right up to it. He was about to sniff it when I swatted him away. I’m always afraid to burn candles for this very reason. If it’s not the cats sticking their faces in the candle on the table, it’s the dog wagging his tail too close to the candle on the coffee table. I have had several close calls where I swore I would never burn another candle for fear of one of the animals going up in smoke.

Hair goes quickly, you know.

Last night, I vividly saw Fernando in my dream, sticking his face too close to the candle on the table, and just as his whisker touched the flame, I jumped up out of bed and was halfway to the kitchen table before I realized it was a dream.

The good news is…I didn’t have a “terror” dream last night. Hopefully tonight will be a restful night. I would be happy with no dreams at all.

Pax Christi.



I know that dreams are often our psyche’s way of addressing fears, hopes, issues that we haven’t dealt with in our waking life. What of nightmares? Do they betray our deepest fears?

Several years ago, I went through a period of having terrible dreams. The word “nightmare” didn’t even begin to describe what I saw and felt. The only thing I could relate it to was September 11th, when I watched on live news coverage as the second plane barreled into the North Tower and I began to realize that it was not an accident. The images of that day have stayed with me all of these years, and they are the only real-world images I’ve seen that correspond in some fashion to these night terrors I’ve had. Many friends and family told me to stop watching the news, to read my Bible before I went to sleep, et cetera. All well-intended words, I know.

But what happens when that doesn’t work? It didn’t work. The nightmares kept coming. I don’t recall the details of all of them; but I recall many of them. I recall the last one I had–and I truly thought it was going to be the last one–dealt with children on a boat. It was awful.

But it wasn’t the last one. Three nights ago, I had another. I couldn’t grasp all of the details, but I recognized people, sounds, and smells in the dream that told me it was another of these nightmares. People were…ah. Never mind. I prayed and prayed–“God, give me peace; God, stay near to me; God, keep us safe.” And I, like a rational being, dismissed this again as a one-time thing.

The night before last, I had another dream. I didn’t recognize anyone in the dream except one person. I don’t think I was even in this dream, which is odd. I think it’s the first time I’ve not been in my own dream. But it was not me, it was not familiar, and I couldn’t make sense of it at all.  I don’t know that I would have even recognized it as a bad dream, except that it was “raining sand”–which had occurred in the very first nightmare I remember having as a child–and when the sand touched people, it burned. Not so much like fire, but a chemical burn. The agony of the people in this dream was unbearable. I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep because of the screams and the smell. I don’t know what the smell was, but I will know it if I ever smell it.

Last night, I read my Bible longer than normal. And after that, I finished a book about Fanny Crosby that I’ve been reading. It was well into the morning before I dared to close my eyes. And when I did, I prayed that I would not dream again. But I did. Many people were in this dream. There was a lot of fire. A lot of fire. Oddly, at one point in the dream, I got into a fight with a woman dressed in dark gray and purple.  We were fighting over a rat. I think I had decided to kill the rat, cook it, and give everybody in the room an equal bite of it; she had decided to take the rat and eat it all herself. In the end, I fought with her and won. The most terrifying thing about this dream was that we knew what was coming. We knew that we were going to be burned in the fire, but we also knew that it wasn’t going to kill us.

So tell me–will these dreams go away if I stop watching the news? The only thing I can do is take them in stride. I don’t know why I’m having these dreams again, and I’ll be glad when they stop.

God, be with my sister. Keep her safe.

Pax Christi.


Dear Insomnia

Dear Insomnia,

I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve been having dreams. Awful dreams. Recurring, awful dreams. Isn’t it odd how dreams can be awful, even though nothing necessarily awful might occur in them? Somehow, you wake up knowing that something awful was happening, or was about to happen.

The first dream was one I’d actually had several years ago. I was fleeing from men in black. They didn’t have guns or any kind of weapon that I could see, but I knew they were trying to kill me.  I went all over town trying to find a safe place to hide, but everywhere I went–they were there.

In the second dream, I was in our old church–Glad Tidings. There was a line of us walking, like we used to line up and walk into the sanctuary for our New Kids concerts. We were lined up all the way out to the parking lot. I was about 100 people into the line. They opened the doors and pushed many of us into the sanctuary, ending with me, and then closed the doors again. The sanctuary was a room full of wooden chairs and tables. We were told to sit at a table, so I found the last seat in the back corner and sat down. There was nothing on the tables except a white feather at each place. I heard an alarm sound, and the door was locked, and I realized then that we were being killed. The heat became unbearable. It seemed we were melting right where we sat–like the wax on a candle that is soft and melted, but still has its form. I tried to move, and realized that I was stuck to the chair. And I thought–“I have to find some plain yogurt.”

This is crazy, because…some time ago, I had a dream about being on an ore boat where there was a tragedy; a group of kids had somehow burned and were stuck to their seats, and my attempt to help them was the same thing–I tried to find plain yogurt. How bizarre!

In the last dream–the only one that has been a good dream–I was standing on the shore of a clear water. There were two islands offshore, one close and one farther out. I was with a good friend of mine, and we swam to the close island. There was a man there who tried to sell me a bathing suit, which I declined, since I’d already swam in my clothes. He insisted that I could not swim on to the other island unless I bought this bathing suit, but I refused to buy it. My friend stayed there on the island, she loved it. There were many people there–including two girls I knew as a child, Suzie and Nikki, whom I’m sure were in this dream for a reason–and they were preparing for a big celebration that night–a bonfire, music, dancing, etc. But I looked out toward the other island and just felt that it was calling to me. So I went alone, swam to the other island. Along the way, these beautiful, vibrantly colorful fish would swim up next to me and brush against me. It was almost as if they were speaking to me. They seemed happy. When I arrived, the island was deserted, but full of growth. It was so green. I laid down on the grass, and was happy.

But in the midst of all of this dreaming, and repeating of these dreams over the past several nights, I have not felt well-rested; I have awoken frightfully and suddenly; I have not been able to fall asleep.

I am very, very tired. But I cannot sleep.

Hence, I am blogging at 5:14AM.

Still, I will go and try again.

Pax Christi.