Tag Archives: dreams

to the north

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to the north

The breeze was whipping past my face as I sped near the edge of a cliff, traveling parallel but closer and closer all the time.  I was standing on the back of a truck, holding on tightly, staring out to the scenery flashing by.  Finally I was right at the edge, because this is what I came for, the glimpse over the edge…I looked down and there was no guardrail at all, just the edge of the road, a strip of dirt, and then nothingness until far down I could see a thick cushion of treetops, dappled by sunlight.  There was the white facade of a church peeping out of the trees, along with glimpses of a few other building from the town.  Lifting my eyes up, I could see the greenness turn deep blue as my vision extended to the far hills and mountains.  Then I decided I’d rather see this from behind some sort of guardrail, so I looked for even a small one that I could stand behind.  There was a small one, of sorts, but we were traveling so quickly past it.  (and that’s how you can tell it’s Central America,  few guardrails!)

Now I noticed a beautiful sound, a song that I recognized, playing past the rush of the wind.  I started humming along with it, as I looked down at the treetops and breathed in the clean fresh mountain air.  The cliffs and mountains were on my right, but  now we were turning left and I could see some ruined buildings.  I knew it was a part of Antigua.  There were all sorts of old ruined cathedrals and bits of old walls and columns.  I wanted to look at them all, but we were approaching so quickly that my eyes fixed on one that was painted bright pink, and I gazed as we drove past at golden lions intertwined among the black wooden railing on the window boxes.  I dearly wanted to see the other ruins and was determined to come back with my camera….

And then Henry said, “Good-bye, I’ll give you a call later”….and the music in my dream tapered off and the ruins and mountains melted into the daylight behind the curtains in our room as he kissed me goodbye.

Yes, that was what I was dreaming about 2 hours ago.  If you know me, you know that I have very vivid dreams, and remember a lot of them (too many, my Mom would say!)  I can hear and taste and smell in my dreams!  I dream in both English and Spanish.  And yes, Guatemala is my favorite place to dream about….it’s probably where 90% of my dreams take place, go figure.

A few minutes later, I “happened” to pick up a book I’ve been reading, and read this quote:

“Oh hurrah!” said Shasta.  “Then we’ll go north. I’ve been longing to go to the north all my life.” –THE HORSE AND HIS BOY, CHAPTER I, “HOW SHASTA SET OUT ON HIS TRAVELS”

And then after some more quotes from that book, where the boy Shasta is setting off on an adventure to the North with Bree the talking horse, this book continues on:

For while Shasta, like Reepicheep, was motivated by desire, his was a desire of a very different kind.  In part, it was nothing more than a vague sense of not belonging, of being a stranger in the only place he’d ever been able to call home.  But it went far beyond this.  For reasons he didn’t comprehend and couldn’t have explained, Shasta was consumed with a deep, almost inarticulate desire to go north.

“So is there in us a world of love to somewhat,” wrote C.S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy (quoting seventeenth-century English poet Thomas Traherne), “thought we know not what in the world it should be.”  This is Shasta’s story in a nutshell.  He was a victim of what the Germans call Sehnsucht: an ardent yearning after a nameless, indefinable object.  Lewis referred to it as a “lifelong nostalgia—-”  “our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside.”

This for sure stuck a chord in me.  I know that I do long for Guatemala, but really, I know it’s deeper even than that.  Farther on in this chapter the authors add:

Have you ever felt that bittersweet pang, that stab of joy, that soul-piercing arrow of heartbreaking loveliness and longing that, for Lewis and Shasta, was “shot from the North”?  It comes to each of us in a different way.  We encounter it in the light of a red gold sunset, the melancholy of a misty seascape, the cold gleam of stars among bare branches on a winter’s night; in “the smell of a bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of Kubla Khan, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.”

Wherever we meet it, it confronts us with inescapable evidence that we, like Jack and Shasta and the Old Testament patriarchs, are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13), exiles in a foreign land, hoping to discover a way back home.

Put yourself in Shasta’s place.  You’re sitting on the seashore, absently mending the nets, gazing off longingly toward the north.  Do you sense the undertow of nagging restlessness?  Can you relate to the undefined feelings of homesickness, the ache of unspoken discontent?  If you can, you may begin to have some idea of what the Bible means when it says that God “has put eternity in [our] hearts”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The implications are well worth pondering.

REFLECTION:  We were meant for bigger and better things.

And so ends the chapter called “NARNIA AND THE NORTH” in the book Finding God in the Land of Narnia by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware, published by SALTRIVER, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2005.  I have really been enjoying reading this book and what I read this morning really complimented what I experienced in my dream today.  I recommend it for every Narnia fan!!  It’s something to think about today….

I wanted to include some photos of Guatemala that remind me a bit of my dream, so I found these on my friend Sam Ovalle’s facebook page and grabbed some of the ones of his climb of the Pacaya Volcano in 2000.  (Thanks for permission Chrissy!! 🙂scene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovallescene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle scene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle  volcano photographed by Sam Ovalle scene from pacaya volcano photographed by Sam Ovallevolcanos of Guatemala photographed by Sam Ovalle

Guatemala C.A.G. dream sequence

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There’s a place that I visit frequently, for no reason at all.  It is full of flowers and trees and good and bad memories.  Always fenced in, I am free to wander and look.

Night before last I visited that place…long ago and oh so far away (as the song goes).  I found myself at my old school in Guatemala, by the side entrance.  And in my dream, I determined that I was going to walk the whole grounds and see and remember every bit of it.  So I started by the side entrance, looking up to the steps where I used to sit and eat my lunch, listening to the church bells toll and watching the fruit trees and birds and whatever traffic rumbled down the side road.  I could feel the cement under my bare feet, and then some dry leaves crunch as I moved closer to where the old metal swingset was.  Looking up up up I could see the detailed canopy of a huge ancient tree that guarded the stone wall of the corner of the school, and also the small stone steps that crept up and around, near the tether ball court.  I walked past the swingset to the far corner, the living fence following along beside me.  In the corner of the playground I turned around and looked back, over the whole soccer field and playground…and strangely enough, I could see it two ways, with the giant eucalyptus tree and without it.  It was as if I knew that it no longer existed and so looked at it through my little girl eyes, when it was solidly there, complete with tire swing, and then saw the scene again with my grown-up eyes, which knew that it was gone.

All of a sudden, I was inside the building, walking through and testing my memory.  I stepped on the checkered tiles as I went through the upstairs high school, then down the steps, hearing the sounds, even smelling old scents.  I could hear the hum of a machine under fluorescent lights….or maybe it was the hum of the lights themselves.  Past the washrooms, past the library and off to one side where there was a kitchen painted a greenish-bluish color.  (this part puzzles me a bit…I’m not sure if there really was a kitchen there. I think there was, since the building was originally a large house, but if so, this memory would have been from when I was in early elementary school, I think).  I also checked out the curving cement staircase that came down the back way, with the circular cut-out windows in the stone wall and the planter that usually only housed a few scraggly plants, if anything at all besides dirt.

It was like I was testing myself, to see if I could conjure up that old place.  I drifted out of the dream and into my cozy bed, and felt satisfied that I had passed the test.  I had seen, felt, and heard those old memories: the crackle of the fallen leaves, the sun playing in the leaves of the green green trees, the dustiness of the field, the close-growing trees strung with barbed wire in the “living fence”, the chalkiness of the hallways and hum of the fluorescent lights.  Especially that ceiling of leaves, high above….and that is what hurts the most, because as I wake, I know that that beautiful tree does not exist anymore, nor do any of those places I walked…except for in my memory.

At the moment, I have no photos to add to this post, I own very few photos of that place in that time.  And the ones I have are buried deep.

The school is gone, the lovely giant trees are gone, the flowers and playground are gone.  And sometimes I scare myself by visiting a place that I know does not exist.

An interesting P.S.: later on that same day, out of the blue, a message appeared that said “hey class, how about planning our 20th high school reunion that’s coming up next summer?!”  How’s that for a coincidence 😉

(I made the graphic using an old digital kit called The Pickleberry Tree from pickleberrypop.com)