Dreaming My Way Back Home
I follow behind the whirling naked man. Dancing freely as he dances, I am swept into his orbit. I remove my coat, my shoes… my pants! Swaying, comfortable, somehow deeply at ease. He dances by me smiling but not looking right at me. People are around me: some dance too, some watch. All sway or dance or leave. All are loved, all are free to choose.
This is a dream that I had over a month ago but whose potency rings deeply inside me today.
The miracle of this dream is that it started off in horror as I cut off my own feet to nurse a petty resentment. I hobble painfully on my stumps, off balance until I catch sight of the whirling man. I find myself slowly drawn towards him and caught up in his soundless rhythm, and step by step by step I forget about my amputation. My self-mutilation ceases even to exist, the wounded pride forgotten.
Step by step I find myself again miraculously whole.
I waded in a river of suicidal numbness during my teens and 20s blindly but successfully setting up a career I didn’t really want. In my 40s, I denied my literal, physical feelings so completely that I almost died when my appendix ruptured after three days of pain. While recuperating for 9 days in the Hood River hospital, I came face to face with the truth that I had somehow profoundly abandoned myself. Within a few years, I had quit my job, left my husband and started an intensive course of Dreamwork over Skype with a Dream Coach from Vermont, a deep and nourishing practice that sustains me to this day.
At the time that I started my dream journey, I was very effective in the world with both MS and PhD in astrophysics and a civil service job at NASA. I was competent and confident. But my dreams showed me the cold, dark castle that I lived in everyday and the numb gray wars that dragged on and on below the surface. I could not deny that these feelings lived together with my usual pride and apparent cooperativeness. The dreams sometimes tenderly, sometimes ruthlessly showed me how the ways I had learned to cope were keeping me away from my Soul.
In the Red Book, C. G. Jung calls this phase of dreamwork, “The Desert” and has this to say, “Why is my self a desert? / Have I lived too much outside of myself in men and events? / Why did I avoid my self? Was I not dear to myself? / But I have avoided the place of my soul.”
Dreams every day teach me compassion for myself. Compassion for the way that I cut off my own feet and “stump” myself because I felt like that was the only way I could ever fit in. Compassion for how I could try so hard and yet still feel so alone. Tenderness for the way that I am learning to let go into the dance and to sway and feel connected. Tenderness that I inhabit this body of infinite joys and sorrows, constantly swinging from joy to pain, from aloneness to connection, leading me toward the knowledge that the world is after all a good and friendly place. That there is Love here for me.
Even as the dreams continue to lay bare the inner fear which I would like to pretend doesn’t exist, so too do they cultivate in me an ability to open to the Divine. They show me the ways I turn away from help, from love, from connection, the way I choose control over vulnerability.
And all the while, dreams are leading me toward the Divine with winks and hugs and moments of that very Love which I both so long for and so fear to surrender to. While working with my dreams enhances their alchemy, my Guides are nudging me even in those dreams which I don’t remember, loving me with infinite patience, showing me how to love by the way that They love me.
In a simple but memorable dream, I am driving away from a homeless man sitting on a curb playing the guitar. He gazes longingly after me. I learn from that dream that my need to hold onto the steering wheel, to be in control, to be moving, is keeping me from connecting with my Beloved who, in this dream, comes to me as a simple musician. He knows that I love singing but had neglected the practice for years; HE KNOWS ME. And what is more, He longs for me, He cares for me, this Man I have not even given a home. In the words of the song Revelation by Rickie Byars Beckwith, “I discovered that God loves me, and He needs me too. Now I know why I’m alive…”
Working consciously with these blessed dream gifts, I learn to connect to this… this… what can I call this Being who appears nightly in endless guises? Who is this One who encourages me and teases me, who enters so many of my dreams, lovingly waiting for me to open to Grace, to open to the Love?
Ally. Guide. Animus / Anima. Angel. God. Higher self. Inner self. Soul. The Love. Beloved. Cosmic Being. Sacred Other. Celestial Messenger. Whirling Dervish. Nagual. Dancing Naked Man. Homeless Guitar Man… Men and Women, Children and Elders, They appear in my dreams as representations of the ALL THAT IS on a scale that I can relate to, that I can have a personal relationship with.
These Allies also bring invitations. Invitations to be my better self, my bigger Self. They help me find out what wants to be born into the world through me, what makes me come alive. My dream of the Homeless Man led me to a period of several years where I wrote songs and performed them for groups which helped me to viscerally KNOW that I am creative and beautiful and that my voice matters in this world.
The dreams whisper inside me every night with infinite humility, sending dream after dream… And they speak to me also from my intuition, from my guesses and from my instincts. In a very real sense, by listening to my dreams, I am learning to listen to myself. And so, trust grows in me for Myself, for my Soul, for the Divine. I am starting to glimpse that somehow, impossibly but utterly, I am loved, even though I could not say by what or who. Simply, “I AM LOVED.”
I had not looked for a belief in something outside myself. I was and am content to be “spiritual, but not religious”. But bit by bit these Sacred Encounters have nurtured in me an ever-deeper trust in something greater than me and in my ability to be in harmony with THAT. I can begin to let go of self-wounding and pride and let myself be swept, beside the Dancing Man, into the whirling dance of Authentic Beingness.