A Dream for Today | August 8, 2021 by Dr. Dorsey Blake
A few nights ago, I had a dream not long before the wake of day. Or was it the awakening for the day and days to come? I saw children playing, having great fun. Some I think were from my childhood; but I couldn’t be sure. There was a hopscotch diagram guaranteed to challenge dexterity and bring delight. Close by, other children were gathered in a circle playing a-tisket-a tasket. Everyone was having a joyful time. I was reminded of one of my favorite scriptures: Zechariah 8:4: “Old men and women shall sit once more in the open spaces of Jerusalem, the Lord of hosts declares, each with staff in hand, so old are they; and the open spaces shall be full of boys and girls playing there.”
A stunning sense of peace flooded my dream-being. Is this just a utopian fantasy or a utopia that could be, should be realized, concretely? Had I experienced the joy, the community, the trust before? Yes, for even amid segregation, the segregated found a way to love another, to be present for one another, to imagine together, to live beyond prescribed borders. Perhaps, children were on my mind because so many appeals have been made on television about children in need: the Shriners, St. Jude’s Hospital – children with disfigured faces, children malnourished, children abandoned. The fact that I recently participated in the Proctor Institute sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund certainly contributed to this sensitivity.
There was a student in one of my seminary classes that stated that her daughter had no playmates and suggested that this is a fact more common than recognized. She stated that her child’s generation could reflect a generation where this is the reality.
I could hardly fathom such a reality. I could not imagine a childhood without my playmates who were partners in engaging the mysteries all around us, mysteries as companions, realities to be engaged, worlds to be explored. This wonder of life and play gave a sense of grounding and freedom and laughter far more empowering than the strictures and compromises of social propriety. Childhood incorporates what Matthew Fox calls “the dancing imagination of our souls…. I endorse… Jesus’ advice that we be child-like in our joy, spontaneity and full-hearted response to creation.”
Jane Steger suggests: “The inner life may be as full of adventure, explorations, hopes and fears and ‘Perilous seas,’ as the outer life…. There is a wide other world within, deep harbors of thought, marvelous seas of contemplation, waiting to be explored.”
Dr. Howard Thurman speaks on a form of alternative living, utopias. “...in the Utopias, the created worlds were fashioned out of elements in the heart and yearnings of men who were part of the times in which they lived... Community as it is experienced in the far-flung hopes of men in all ages finds its greatest fulfillment in a picture of what the collective life of man would be like if it functioned in keeping with man’s high destiny. Man has continued to dream ever of a better world, to speculate as to its possible nature and to communicate his longings to other men in the hope that the ideal might, at least in part, become reality.”
My dream shifted. The house in which I lived was partially destroyed by a storm, or what we traditionally have called mother nature. Overwhelmed, I went to sleep. When I awakened, I recognized that an alternative structure had been built by a mothering, birthing figure. It was not a complete house; but, complete enough for me to live in and be supported. It was not meant to be the final grand abode, but something for the interim, the between times, the liminal space. The dream communicated that while the current structures are falling apart and failing, alternatives are being built – oases on the way to Beloved Community.
What is the meaning of all of this? I do not know! However, it in some ways calls us to seek our high destiny, that which is solid in us and gives us strength and direction. It reminds me (us) that sometimes when catastrophe visits, such as a house collapsing even if we have helped build the house, lived in it, valued it, the best response may not be to immediately repair what is broken. Sometimes we just need to take a break, meditate, or sleep on what is happening, and lean into a more comprehensive, fitting response through renewal of vision. There is always in our lives, the mother figure, the creator, who continues to create, build. It is best sometimes for the creator not to build that which is the end product, but to support us to find our own way and destiny. On the way, we may discover who we are and what our relationship to the utopian vision is. Samuel Miller says: “There is a world in each of us as ample and as fascinating as the world outside us. It is not so easy to draw its map or geography, but there are stars and rivers, continents and seas, deep places and high.”
What a way to begin my day this was – revelation from my soul!
I then began a voyage to the internet and found this Thich Nhất Hanh interview.
I was inspired beyond measure by the profound guidance of Thich Nhất Hanh who experienced his nation besieged by war, civil and global, and yet offers such wisdom, understanding, and compassion to each of us and the world at large. My Lord, what a morning I was experiencing!
Friday, I was reminded by poet and colleague Rafael Jesús González of the house that our nation ruthlessly destroyed with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. After many years of protest against atomic weapons, he in 1983 took a leave from teaching duties at Laney College in Oakland to help organize the First International Day of Nuclear Disarmament and to participate in direct actions against nuclear weapons. In Lompoc Federal Prison for trying to block the test of the MX missile, he wrote.
Here for Life (Vandenberg Air Force Base, January 1983; first blockade of MX Missile testing) I am here — I wear the old-ones’ jade — it’s life, they said & precious; turquoise I’ve sought to hone my visions; & coral to cultivate the heart; mother of pearl for purity. I have put on what power I could to tell you there are mountains where the stones sleep — hawks nest there & lichens older than the ice is cold. The sea is vast & deep keeping secrets darker than the rocks are hard. I am here to tell you the Earth is made of things so much themselves they make the angels kneel. We walk among them & they are certain as the rain is wet & they are fragile as the pine is tall. We, too, belong to them; they count upon our singing, the footfalls of our dance, our children’s shouts, their laughter. I am here for the unfinished song, the uncompleted dance, the healing, the dreadful fakes of love. I am here for life & I will not go away.
Thurman informs us that: “Community as the Utopian dream is a part of the basic aspiration of the human spirit. It is not important at any particular time and place that the Utopia does not become literal fact; it reveals, however, what the imagination of man has to say about the true possibilities of the human. This dream expresses what man sees as his potential if he were at liberty to fashion a world in accordance with his need, his hopes, his destiny. Deep within himself he knows that if he settles for anything less than this, he denies the profound intent of his own spirit, which is one with the intent of the Creator.”
Let us dedicate ourselves to a world where children can play, dance, and laugh the joy of creation, where our compassion enters the suffering of all with deep listening, where we build half-way houses on the roads to our high destiny.