The Spirit Dream

February 12, 2024


"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
 

It was almost three A.M. on a summer night in 2007 and I was wide awake.

So I passed the long sleepless night on the computer, drifting from one website to the next, until I stumbled upon a bible passage I knew by heart. 

The 23rd Psalm.

I remembered how I had committed this psalm to memory as a child and how I used to recite it before bed whenever things seemed dark. So I said the old familiar passage right there over the keyboard and then I set aside my laptop and fell asleep.

I woke up the next morning with a sense of excitement I hadn’t felt in what seemed like forever. 

I didn’t usually remember my dreams, but I remembered this one. It was detailed and magical and absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. 

Heart pounding, I turned on my laptop and captured my journey through the night as quickly as I could.

*

Aside from the headings and a few minor edits, what follows is the account of the dream, as I typed it out that morning. It’s a little long, but I’ve divided it into five parts to make it easier to read and to better show the structure. 

The Dream

Part I: The Hospital

As the dream opens, I’m approaching a big hospital. I’m working as a nurse again and this is the first day of a new job and I’m not sure where to go (a common problem in many similar dreams). I go to several outside doors and find them locked. Finally, at the last door I find an elderly woman on the ground in severe pain. She tells me that she has had two difficult surgeries in the last few months and that she will die before she goes back to the hospital again.

I don’t know what to do or say, so I go in through the door. I’m looking for the emergency room and at first I am lost. After asking for (and not understanding) directions (another common work dream problem) I wander onto an elevator. There is a young doctor in a brilliant white coat inside the elevator. I tell him what has happened, and he gets off and goes with me to see the woman and her relatives, who are there with her. He tells them that she doesn’t have to come into the hospital if she doesn’t want to and they take her away.

I am at a brightly lit a nurse’s station. I have the feeling that I’ve been working here for some time. And that there are no bad feelings associated with that (which has never happened to me in dreams about nursing or in my nursing career in general). The young doctor is at the station too, looking at charts. After a moment, he stops and says that he has to move away soon and that he needs to learn the route by traveling it. He suggests that we all need time away from our work and that we should go on an adventure together.

Part II: The Journey

We take two cars. There is an odd assortment of women (presumably nurses). One is very beautiful. Her eyes are a bright vivid blue and her face is high-boned and delicate. She wears a layered gown of shimmering blue silk and I find her very exotic. Around her neck hangs a deep blue sapphire necklace and some of the bluest lapis I have ever seen.

There is an older woman, as well. She looks like a woman I know in real life. She is sweet and lost and seemingly lonely, just like her real-life counterpart. There are several other women. One is young and withdrawn; the others have already faded. As it turns out, this is a journey of discovery. There are moments of awkwardness because I don’t know anyone well, but there are other moments that seem almost euphoric.

We are on a train and I spend time alone. I am sitting in a day car with many windows. The car is rushing through a sunny countryside though I am more aware of the streaming sun than I am the scenery. As I sit, an idea for a book overtakes me. The images and characters and dialogue are vivid. And they stream through my mind so quickly it is all I can do to write them down. The story is about a man involved with two women. One is young and beautiful, but she is also married and in the end, he chooses the one who is unencumbered. The manuscript flashes by from beginning to end. Somehow I capture it.

A lot of different things happen. Sometimes we’re on the train and sometimes it seems that we have disembarked along our way. We are in a jewelry store. I see many lovely things. I look at a small locket depicting a traditionally Catholic guardian angel with children, but it’s small and drab - nothing like the beautiful pieces worn by the woman in blue. I sense that it is all that is available to me and that I don’t have enough money to buy anything else. In another scene, the women and I decide to swap clothing. I have a single article of clothing I’m proud of—some sort of gold and red top. I offer it to the woman in blue and she accepts it.

Part III: Our Destination

It seems that we have arrived at university or school. The woman in blue shows me a sort of screen that is not a television but a bright flowing blue divided into many different shades which appear as if pressed between two panes of clear glass. The screen swivels like an old-fashioned chalkboard and the many shades of blue swirl together in changing breathtaking patterns. It is vividly blue and has a shine to it that is almost metallic. It reminds me of a sand art item I saw once in a variety store but much, much better. Its beauty and the spectrum of blue is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

The women and I are together in a classroom. A book review or lecture is being delivered. A man is showing us pictures from a book he has written. At first the content seems Buddhist and then it’s something else, but I don’t remember clearly just how it is different. We’re all moved by his presentation and find it very inspiring. For some reason, we know all about him and are surprised he’s become so spiritual. It seems that he was famous in some way earlier in life and that he had a bad reputation at that time.

Then I am outside with the young doctor. He asks me about my parents and I tell him something. briefly, without going into detail. He letters a sort of monument to my father (in cobalt blue). He invites me to letter the one for my mother myself, but his lettering is perfect and I have terrible handwriting (in dreams and in life). So I ask him to do it for me and he does. The monument only has my parents' names. Or I think it does because I don’t recognize the characters or letters. The monument includes no information about who they were or what they did. But it seems complete as is.

My mother’s monument transforms into an ornament made out of clear glass with deep blue lettering. I know that I’m supposed to hang it in a tree at our family homestead and, all at once, I am there. It’s not the big main farmhouse where my mother grew up but something similar to the smaller house that she lived in before my grandfather inherited the farm. There is something about the tree having been cut back in preparation. I hang the ornament on a branch and leave.

Part IV: The Return Trip 

I find myself back on the train and discover an old book. The cover is a work of art—old fashioned, intricate, tooled leather. It is dusty and a bit worse for wear, but still handsome. I’m very impressed with it. I open it and see I have written it. I’m surprised but, at the same time, I remember.

Finally, we’re at the end of our journey. We sit at a big table and talk about how we have changed. I’m wearing a sparkling red ruby or garnet bracelet. We decide that we should exchange jewelry as souvenirs of our trip.

I don’t want to give up my bracelet, but I offer it anyway, secretly hoping that the woman in blue will give me some of her lapis. Instead, she gives her jewelry to the older woman (who has nothing to offer her in return). I feel disappointed but understand that this is the right thing to do. Although my desire for the beautiful blue gemstones is strong, there is no associated envy or bitterness. I feel strongly that all is as it should be.

The young doctor thanks us and tells us that he now knows the route he should take to his new home. He does not return to the hospital and I am not sure if the women return either. I have a sense of parting. It is bittersweet, but I know it feels right and I have no regrets.

Part V: Back to the Beginning

Finally, I am back at the hospital. Someone is holding a funeral for the woman who was lying in pain just outside of the door when I first arrived. The funeral is being held on the other side of the large parking lot. It is far away, at the edge of the lot, but I can see a seated effigy draped in red and understand that this effigy represents the woman who has died.

I am now inside the hospital. A patient on the floor where I work has passed and I remember that he was the man who taught us when we were away. I know his history, so I’m not surprised that he died alone. I’m not sad about it either because I remember his lecture and know that he was at peace.

As I am leaving his room, or perhaps the floor, a young girl comes in and asks for the man. She says that she is his granddaughter and I tell her he is gone. Surprisingly, I find the right words. I tell her that it’s alright, that he has changed, and for some reason her tears are cathartic for both of us. We leave the hospital together and I have the feeling that everything has come full circle.

*

I finished typing out the dream and turned off my laptop.

I was sitting on the same couch I’d slept on, wearing the same sweat pants and t-shirt I’d worn the day before. The room was still small and cluttered, and the stereo from the house next door was already blasting.

But everything had changed.

_________

This post is excerpted from my upcoming book The Spirit Dream.

© 2024 Barbara Graver. All rights reserved.

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