Monday, April 19, 2010

A Dream

How truthful are dreams, I wonder? How much are they flattery, and how much are they our waking selves, writ small?

I dreamed last night I was in a war; I believe it was the WWII. Somehow, I'd been drafted, and I was being shipped to an army camp of some sort. After a while, I looked down at the rifle in my hands, puzzled.

"Wait--" I thought. "This can't be right. I'm a Quaker. I don't fight."

And they came and they gathered up those of us who said we wouldn't fight, and told us to stand in a circle in the middle of the troop of soldiers, and they trained their guns on us, and asked us if we still insisted that we could not fight, and we said yes.

I didn't think they would actually kill us--I thought there was some rule, even in my dream, that Quakers did not have to fight--but I wasn't sure. I wasn't very afraid, and I didn't want to die, but it seemed possible.

And then the soldiers fired at us, but they fired blanks, and then took away our guns, and we didn't have to fight. And I felt so peaceful, so good: the way I felt on the first morning of summer vacation when I was young.

A little later in the dream I was doing stand-up comedy to promote glbtq rights, with fellow-blogger Mike Shell. We were working on a routine around the Bible, and having a lot of fun.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the sequence was its lack of drama. At times I was confused, or worried. But mostly, it was a peaceful, centered state of mind I found within myself.

It was a very peaceful, contented dream.


Caen25 said...

Awesome dream recollections.

I'm still working on memorizing or remembering my own dreams it's an uphill battle as I'm an Aries and always hard to keep my attention focused on any one thing haha.

Interesting mix too, pagan quaker. I'll continue to read up.

BlueJoker @

Mary Ellen said...

That's a powerful dream! I like that you held your ground in the face of the obvious peril - and that allowed for the transformed energy. Brava!

kevin roberts said...

cat, the first part of your dream of soldiers and rifles is real. What you described is exactly-- exactly-- what real Quakers wrote of their experiences as non-cooperators in the American Civil War.

Melissa Foster said...

Re Kevin's comment, I just read a very interesting book (available for free online...or for 99 cents on Kindle...)"The Record of a Quaker Conscience, Cyrus Pringle’s Diary" which describes what he and a small group of Quakers from Vermont went through after they were drafted during the Civil War and refused to serve.

Yewtree said...

@ kevin - do you mean including the firing of blanks? That's really interesting.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

I don't know if I would, in life, have the ability to hold to my convictions like that, though I know I'd want to.

I suppose nobody ever does know for sure unless they are tested; I remember hearing that many Friends in Kenya thought of the "peace testimony" as, essentially, a luxury that Friends in wealthy, privileged places like the United States worried about--you know, as a kind of hobby of political dabbling, as opposed to the daily work in the trenches against poverty that confronts a Kenyan Quaker.

And then, of course, came the stories of the incredible courage of many Kenyan Friends, in the face of the post-election violence two years ago.

I tell you, I'd like very much to apprentice in my peace testimony in the company of men and women who discovered the power of their own in the face of machetes, as they stood to protect their neighbors from their neighbors.

Something out there has a lot of power to keep us right, may be. I hope I am open to that Light if ever I need to be.

May we be faithful.

Thanks, friends. *smile*

Yewtree said...

I don't know if I would either, but I am pretty sure I would be unable to kill anyone. Amazing story of the Kenyan Friends.

kevin roberts said...

Yewtree, I can't find the original source that I have in my head. Quaker conscripts in the American Civil War were beaten, strung up by their thumbs, pinyoned to the ground with bayonets in the sun, and subjected to mock firing squads.

As I recall, conscripts were also grouped together and shot at with blanks. Metal cartridges only came into limited use with the repeating Henry rifles at the end of that war, so a blank charge was easily made up by just filling the muzzle-loading muskets with powder and wadding. I seem to remember the circle, but I might be wrong about that.

Yewtree said...

Hi Kevin, thanks - I wasn't worried about the source, just interested as to how much of Cat's dream matched up to the historical incident you described. Thanks for elucidating, though it sounds very harrowing.

kevin roberts said...

It was a specific autobiography of a particular Friend in the war. There was lots more.

Bright Crow (Mike Shell) said...

Hmm...Bible-based, GLBTQ rights-promoting, stand-up comedy?

Sounds like scary fun, and I'd be glad to work with you. :-)

"David and Jonathan walk into a bar...."

Thanks, Cat. I don't often do guest appearances in other people's dreams...that I know of.

Meanwhile, it's interesting that we usually talk about having to practice the peace testimony in extremis.

I find that the most difficult part of the practice is in the most trivial, mundate moments. Driving to work each day is a prime example: I strike out every morning before I ever finish the few miles to work, because I lose my temper and curse other drivers.

Why do I say that those cases are the important onces? Because those are part of the thousand daily mini-insults which I commit as I dehumanize any stranger who gets in my way.

Blessed Be,

Bright Crow (Mike Shell) said...

BTW,"the thousand daily mini-insults" is an expression which was coined by Troy Perry (I think) back in the 1970s, as a way of describing what GLBTQ people experience living in an unfriendly culture.

Shoe on the other foot?


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