11 August 2022

More shorts: August dreams

Summer in Elektrostal. Videography and music by Sergey Kadyrov.

Dreams of my mother. 

Last week I saw my mother in a dream.

I dream about my father's parents fairly often. In one memorable dream, I was aboard a ship that came so close to shore that I could touch lampposts on land. I was not at all surprised when the ship slowly made its way past my grandparents' china cabinet in their dining room in Oslo, while I clung to the railing and reached out to touch the glass, and my ship then passed by the sofa on which my grandmother always sat.

But I can only remember two dreams before last week in which my mother appeared. In both cases, she appeared to be the age she was when I was a teenager, although I myself was an adult in those dreams. Both dreams were made memorable by fire. In one of them, the wall behind my mother was on fire, and in the other one, the ceiling and roof were burning. They were strange flames--no noise, no heat, and no sense of danger, although in both cases I was aware I needed to leave. Also, there were no interactions with my mother in either dream.

This last dream was very different. I was on the second floor of an apartment building, and I could see my mother on the sidewalk, approaching the entrance to the building. She was elderly and bent over, looking very much like she did the last time I saw her. I thought to myself, "We are so alienated from her, I am not sure I want her to see me." She climbed the steps and came into the apartment (apparently the second-floor apartment we lived in during most of my teen years, in Evanston, Illinois), and I held back. She saw me, I saw her, we both froze for a moment, and the dream ended.

No reconciliation, no resolution, but even so, in my long quest to grieve my parents, maybe this dream was progress.

More dreams. In many of my dreams, I'm driving a car that is forced to stop or change course for one reason or another. Sometimes the car becomes a motorcycle or vice versa. Sometimes I have to park the car, but other times I can keep driving up one side of an obstacle and down the other.

Konotop, Ukraine. (View from our train.)
In the most recent car dream, a couple of days ago, I find myself in some kind of zone where construction equipment and bulldozers are all around, and causing the open space where I'd parked to be smaller and smaller. There were tall concrete walls on three sides. In the little space that remained, I suddenly saw a group of sidewalk vendors, who were selling huge toy animals. I bought one of the animals--an enormous tiger--and made my way back to the car. As I was walking with my big purchase, I overheard someone whisper to someone else, "We get some odd people here."

When I woke up, I realized where the images of huge toys may have come from--a scene we saw through our second-class coach windows as we were traveling by train from Kyiv to Moscow back in 2009.

Occasionally, in my dreams I'm riding a bicycle through a city that is a combination of Richmond, Indiana, and my childhood Evanston, Illinois. Once I was riding a horse.

Basement nightmare. I once had a nightmare that seemed incredibly detailed and realistic. In this dream, a war was going on and bullets were flying. My child and I had taken shelter in the basement of a solid-looking brick building. To my horror, a bullet came through a hole in the basement wall--the above-ground part, near the ceiling--and struck my child in the forehead. Death was instant.

That dream came vividly back to me when I read this report on the death statistics from the Russian occupation of Bucha, Ukraine. 

After months of meticulous, painful and at times gruesome investigation, officials in Bucha said Monday that they had reached what may be the closest they will get to a final accounting of victims of the murderous rampage by Russian troops that set off worldwide outrage over alleged atrocities: 458 bodies, of which 419 bore markings they had been shot, tortured or bludgeoned to death.

As Liz Sly and Kostiantyn Khudov note in their article, these statistics mean that one of every ten of the 4,000 Bucha residents remaining in the town when the Russians took it over died violently during the course of the occupation. What will we find when places still under occupation are investigated with similar thoroughness? We watch and pray.

Adria Gulizia asks, "Do Friends still need the peace testimony?" She cites several examples of Friends becoming (in my words, not hers) more liberal interpreters of formerly strict disciplines. Wouldn't it be ironic that with this increasing liberalism in parts of our church, the commitment to peace became weaker?

It reminds me of a comparison I heard long ago--perhaps from Vail Palmer. Many Friends who applied for conscientious objector status had worked out careful rationales, but Vail remembered the simple statement of a Mennonite farmer's application: "I am a follower of Jesus Christ."

Konstantin Kolesnichenko's blues harp at Pepper's Club, Kyiv, February 11, 2022.

No comments: