Last night I had a dream. There was a tree. Actually there was a whole row of trees along the sidewalk I was moving on. I walked under two particularly tall and strangely arched trees and as I was passing, I turned to look up and see Gail and Mary ambling at the top. Their knees bent against the trunk which, itself, was bending in an arch over the sidewalk. They were not looking at me but farther to the top where the wood was thin and there were mostly leaves. Pale green leaves. My thought was they probably didn't want me to see them there, so I turned and continued walking.
"Hi Eddie!" Mary called to me from her height. I turned again to see both of them smiling and waving with one hand while holding to the trunk with the other.
Then they were down and we were all together in some other space. Their children appeared - Lorado, their oldest and adopted son, came and wrapped his arms around me then looked at me with a knowing smile. Next came Jason, the tall one and their first biological son, who bent and hugged me as well. He said something I don't remember. Charlie was next. He is closer to my height and by some standards, overweight. Yet he also carries with him an energy and a twinkle of something extra. I'm not aware of anyone who has gotten to know him, who hasn't also fallen in love with him. Next came another tall one, yet not quite as tall as Jason; Sam. He's the one with a gentle smile and a soul that will wrap you in warmth if you let it. He has a so much love it's nearly impossible to miss. Yet he's also a bit of a weasel. He uses both qualities to reel you in.
Some of you may know such a family. You may even know this family. If you do, you may ask why I've fictionalized some of the names and not others. Or why I've fictionalized my own name and given it to the tall son. The truth is I'm not exactly sure why. I like to tell stories. I like to make schtuff up and let it go where it will. The dream I had was real, at least as well as I can remember it. But some of the other things I tell are added for flourish or for detail, or just because I feel like it.
This family is one that enjoys telling stories and they also have a thing for disguise. As if each of them has a special ability to enter their own personal photo booth or phone booth or some other kind of booth, and viola - you get another someone on the other end. Someone who finds people work, or gives them a great place to live. Someone who tells jokes and makes you laugh. Someone who appears to you in dreams.
When I woke up from the dream, I wasn't exactly sure why I had dreamed it, or if it meant anything at all. But the trees where Gail and Mary 'lurked' and the way they were arched, stuck in my mind.
I went about my day, dragged myself from the bed, made myself shower and dress for church. Went to Starbucks and then, since I was late and it was hot as the dickens outside, I grabbed a car to take me to 128th and Lennox.
During the first meeting I sat next to two little girls. They alternated between sitting on each others' laps or one in the chair and the other standing. I pulled out my iPad and looked in the applications for a book with pictures that might keep them entertained. I found Sam I Am.
"I have that book at home," said the girl in the chair when i showed the first picture. I turned down the sound and just flipped through the pages for them to look at.
When I came to the the characters driving up a tree, I paused. This was the exact arch of the trees in my dream. Less arched when I first saw them, then more arched when Gail and Mary climbed higher. Nothing else was parallel. The trees in my dream were not cartoon, nor were they yellow. There was also no food I can remember. But they arched exactly this way.
The fact that I took notice of this parallel is what keeps my attention. Jung would call it Synchronicity - meaningful coincidences. He would also advise me to pay attention when it happens.
In Sunday School, we talked about Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. She was preparing what she saw as her last meal. When she had made it up, she would go in, she and her son would eat it, then they would die. I imagine her state of mind was as dire as it gets. When she gave some of her meal to Elijah, the oil and flour from her supply somehow continued from day to day. Can you imagine a starving Elijah telling her he doesn't like flour. Or oil.
I do not like your flour or oil
I'll sit here slumped down in the soil.
Do not tempt me with that cake
I can not will not shall not take.
I'm no Dr. Seuss.
In the story we have, the widow gave and Elijah took. And somehow they all lived. Lived day to day. Later, the widow's son became sick and actually did die. Luckily there happend to be a living prophet on hand and Elijah brought the son back to life.
In class, we talked about various things we feel are imporant about all of this. Someone always mentions how the stories in the Old Testament point to Christ and the Atonement. One thing that came to my mind was how such a small tale points to this thing Christians believe is the greatest, most meaningful event in all of history. Surely there were countless starving people and widows in those days. Surely there were heroic military acts and great gifts given by kings. But the story we have on record today is a simple one of a widow and her son and some flour and some oil. It follows that later, Elijah did not find the Lord in a fire or the great wind. He found the spirit of the Lord in the still small voice. What is smaller than a widow who will make a flour cake and then go in to die.
That's it really. So I'm trying to pay attention to small things, like when I see a tree's arch in the road. I'm not sure yet what to make of it all.
Something about it gives me hope.