Your Old Men Will Dream, Dreams, a short story by Long Hammer at Spillwords.com
Aaron Burden

Your Old Men Will Dream, Dreams

Your Old Men Will Dream, Dreams

written by: Long Hammer

 

Part One

My use of the ancient meditation practice called Lectio Divina has been interesting to say the least.  You see, while there are times I’m mystified, most of the time it sees nothing more than an exercise in futility.

My meditation session begins by browsing through sections of the Bible or other sacred text until I come across something that seems to speak to me.  Once I have found a passage I like, I’m supposed to ask God questions about the ideas contained in the reading.  In the third part of the process, I silently invite God to encourage me to let go of something that is holding me back or to take some new action.  In the final part of the process, I simply rest, reflect and let God’s love wash over me.

In my practice of Lectio Divina to date I do well in the first two parts of the process.  I enjoy looking through the scriptures until I find something that catches my eye and certainly have no problem asking questions about the concepts in the text.  Unfortunately, difficulties arise in the third part where I am instructed to sit back and wait for God’s invitation to undertake some action.  I wait, but all I seem to receive in my mind’s eye is something like an old-time television test pattern, backed up with a buzzing white sound.  In other words, pretty much nothing.  After what seems like hours, but in reality, is less than 30 minutes, I give up.

All of the scriptural texts that I have contemplated have been good food for thought but occasionally a reading will stick with me and I will find myself turning the words contained in the text over and over in my mind.  One passage from Acts 2:17 became almost an obsession.  It reads: In the last days, I will pour out my spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions and your old men will dream, dreams.”

This passage seems to refer to the end of time when Jesus will come and conduct a final judgement on mankind.  People have been predicting the last days for centuries and yet it has failed to occur.  In fact, it seems that speculating about the timing of the end is a surefire way of liquidating your credibility.  Some people believe that they have been born into the world at the worst possible time and that nothing in the past could possibly match the degradation of their world.

I empathize with those that feel that things in our world is on a descending trajectory.   After all we seem to be witnessing a structural collapse in the old cultural values that once underpinned western civilization.  There is both a moral and spiritual dimension to this collapse which sees a raising hedonism, waning religious observance, an ongoing break-up of the traditional family and a general loss of civil coherence.   Our political and governmental leadership has often shown themselves to be both inept and corrupt.  Many people upon becoming senior citizens find that the retirement they had on order is out of stock.  There are wars and rumors of war.  Many of our once beautiful big cities have degraded into crime ridden, drug dependent, lawless, hellholes.

The most alarming thing for me are the plans that our elites are proposing as solutions to our many problems.  They are promoting law and drug enforcement policies that are unlikely to achieve the desired results.  They are putting forth an energy sustainability agenda that is based on wishful thinking and destined to fail.  They seem fixated on provoking never-ending wars of choice. According to those in charge the only way forward is to give them more power and for us to accept less freedom.  All of their plans have these two things is common, they put money in the elites’ pocket and ensure that they retain their place at the top of the heap. Perhaps western civilization is past its prime and on the downward slope, but it is not the first civilization to collapse and odds are that it won’t be the last.  If our civilization is truly collapsing, the end could come about quickly or it could take many decades to unfold.

 

Part Two

Sitting quieting in my room contemplating the scriptures waiting for God to answer my questions has not proven to be a way forward, but something very interesting has occurred.  After reading and meditating on the text of Acts 2:17 I starting DREAMING.  Now I’m not talking about the kind of dreaming I’ve done all my life, you know the occasional nightmare or the usual disconnected and disjointed stuff.  I mean vivid, intense, memorable dreams.  I start dreaming as soon as I fall asleep and it goes on all night.  I wake up in the morning exhausted from all of my nightly adventures.

Shortly after this barrage of dreams started, I decided to do a little research and like a good modern, consulted the internet.  I found the usual wide assortment of opinion and conjecture.  It seems that despite a great deal of research there is still no common understanding about the phenomenon.  It is still unclear if individual dreams carry deeper meaning.

Sigmund Freud described dreams as the royal road to the unconscious and by studying them you could discover the hidden desires that lead to neurosis.  His contemporary, Carl Jung, believed that dreams are a mechanism that allows the unconscious mind to balance things.  Most materialist theories of dreams suggest that they do not reveal your true feelings or reveal unknown facts.  They conclude that dreams are a product of biological components or are even due to sleep positions.  When you enter the realm of popular culture things get really interesting.  There is an entire industry devoted to helping people interpreted their dreams, for a small fee, of course!

Standard interpretations of common dreams go this way: dreams about falling means something in your life is not going well, dreams about being naked in public mean that you feel afraid to reveal your imperfections, dreams about being chased mean you are trying to avoid something and dreams about taking a test reveal you are afraid of failure.

Frankly, I didn’t find any of this to be particularly helpful or relevant to the dreams I was experiencing.  Looking deeper, I was not surprised to find that our ancient ancestors had a very complex system for evaluating and interpreting dreams.

A 5th Century Greek named Macrobius wrote a commentary on dreams entitled Somnium Scipionis.  In this work, which was very influential during the Middle Ages, he described a system which envisioned five types of dreams.  Three of the types he believed were “veridical” and two contained no divination.  I had never come across the word veridical, so I looked it up: “Veridical – A) knowledge about future events or apparently unknowable present realities. B) Showing what is true or real and non-illusory.”

The five types of dreams are as follows according to Macrobius:

Veridical Dreams
1. Somnium – Truths shown veiled in allegorical form.
2. Visio – Direct, literal pre-vison of the future.
3. Oraculum – Dreams featuring a parent or other authority figure that openly declares the future.

Common Dreams
4. Insomnium – Dreams that just repeat working preoccupations.
5. Visum – Dreams at the margin of sleep and wakefulness which are disjointed and chaotic. Nightmares are in this group.

In an attempt to categorize my recent deluge of dreams, I think that the vast majority are in either the Insomnium or Visum type.  Most of these dreams are like the ones I’ve had all my life.  Dreams which seem to be a continuation of thoughts and preoccupations or the kind of topsy-turvy dreams that most people report having.  My nightmares are also of the ordinary type: flight from animals, naked in public, fear of taking a test.   I guess that means I’m afraid to reveal my imperfections, afraid of failure and trying to avoid something, this is definitively not news to me!

My dreams that don’t fit into the bottom two specifies are the ones that concern me.  I don’t know enough about allegorical interruption to know if I’ve had dreams that fit in the Somnium category.  Likewise, I’m not sure I’ve had dreams that directly pre-vision the future, but I do think I’ve had a number of dreams that are of the Oraculum type.

These dreams are like no other.  They are vivid, organized, calm and easily remembered.  They feature people like doctors, nurses, professors, experts of one kind or another and most importantly my father.  Before I begin describing my dreams, I want the reader to understand why I place so much importance on the dream which featured a message from my father.  My father passed away over thirty-five years ago.  I can recall a couple of dreams where he was a part of the supporting cast of characters but never the lead.  These dreams were always of the Visum type and upon waking I was never sure about any messages they might contain.

Like many lucky boys, I enjoyed a good and loving relationship with my father.  He was of the old fashion stern type, but he also liked having fun and had a wonderful “dry” sense of humor.  Most importantly, when the chips were down he was always in my corner.  A small story will illustrate this last point.

When I entered the 10th grade in high school, like all the other kids I was expected to enroll in a foreign language course.  I could pick from French, German or Spanish and I chose the latter.  Spanish at my school was taught by, let’s call her, Ms. Espanyol.   She was a small, fiery native of Madrid who gained celebrity by always wearing nothing but black and taking a taxicab to and from school.  Ms. Espanyol’s brand of Spanish was Castilian, including the lisp.  In school I had a great deal of difficulty reading English due to dyslexia.  I was now expected to read and understand a foreign language which was a simply a bridge too far.  I recognized from the get go that I was going to fail this course, so I adopted the persona of the class clown.

Ms. Espanyol would take it in turns to call on each student to speak before the class.  When she called on me, I would fumble through the reading and greatly exaggerate the Castilian lisp.  This of course prompted gales of laughter of the other students.  Ms. Espanyol was NOT amused and expelled me from class and sent me to the Vice Principal’s office.   After class, Ms. Espanyol came to the VP’s office and demanded that I be expelled totally from school for my blatant display of disrespect for the Spanish language.

The Vice Principal declined to take action at that time and instead called my parents requesting an immediate conference.  I remained sitting outside the VP’s office, sweating bullets until the end of school that day.  Finally, shortly after the last bell had rung my parents arrived at school.  My mother looked very distressed and worried, my father, still dressed in his work clothes, looked angry.  Soon Ms. Espanyol arrived at the meeting and the VP gave her the floor.  She repeated her demand that I be immediately expelled from school, although being Spanish she may have preferred I was turned over to the Inquisition.  She then went on to accuse my parents of neglecting to teach their son good manners and respect for authority.  My poor mother hung her head in shame and my father simply stared at the wall.  I, on the other hand, thought my young life might be over.

The ever-practical VP crafted a compromise.  I was permanently removed from Ms. Espanyol’s Spanish class and enrolled in yet another shop class, where it was felt I could do little further damage.  Leaving the VP’s office, I walked like a condemned man to my father’s 56 Ford and took my place in the back seat.  My parents got in and we started the drive home.  I knew that Ms. Espanyol had gone for the jugular with her comments about good manners and lack of respect for authority.   Both of these topics were very high on the parent’s list of things to instill in their children.

We came to a halt at a traffic light.  My father, who had said absolutely nothing to this point, turned toward the back seat, smiled, and said, “That Ms. Espanyol is some bitch”.  With that pronouncement, the matter was closed and never spoken of again.

 

Part Three

My recent unusual dreams have come in three basic forms.  All three forms share some common characteristics.  They lack the disorganization and randomness of regular dreams, they don’t inspire fright or confusion on my part and I am able to retain the content of the dream over a long period of time.

The first type, I call “lecture or narrative” dreams.  In these dreams I am comfortably seated in a classroom or perhaps a private study.  An unseen speaker who might be a professor or some kind of expert delivers a long, detailed narrative about a certain subject.  I passively listen to the lecture and at its conclusion wake up.  The lecture proceeds in a completely logical and systematic way i.e., point A followed by point B and so on, to its conclusion.

One lecture dealt with fiat currencies and their eventual and inevitable ruin.  The speaker pointed out that only precious metals have been accepted as a medium of exchange for the past 5000 years.  This detailed and persuasive lecture could have been delivered by a spokesman for the World Gold Council.   A second lecture of this type dealt with the inability of the “Green Revolution” to meet its stated objectives.  Once again, the narrative was detailed, including statistics, showing that green energy sources cannot be scaled or stored to a level which will allow them to replace fossil fuels.

I think, that while these dreams are certainly unusual, they may be of the Insomnium type as I was aware of the information and was in agreement with its conclusions before I had the dream.  However, the level of detail and the systematic organization seems very usual.

The second type of dream, I call “tactile” or “feeling” dreams.  In this type of dream a coherent story is told from beginning to end and I feel sensation of touch during the story.

A recent dream of this type went as follows: I am the father of two young Hispanic boys about ages 7 and 4.  They are playing on a dock or raised boardwalk over a swampy area.  The boys jump into the swampy water and the younger boy does not surface.  His older brother calls for help and tells me the water is not deep.  I jump in and find the smaller boy trapped under the structure.  I pull him out and discover he is not breathing and his heart has stopped.  I place the youngster on the boardwalk and begin CPR.  When I start mouth to mouth resuscitation, I can feel the boys’ lips beneath mine.  As I blow air into his lungs, I can feel his lungs filling under my hand.  I start cardio and soon feel his heart starting to beat again.

The scene shifts to an Emergency Room and the boy seems fully recovered and is being examined by a doctor.  An older woman dressed like a nurse enters the room along several other women.  They ask me to outline the steps I took in saving the boy.  I outlined my actions in detail for them.   They nod their heads in agreement and then ask me how I knew what to do.  I answer that I was trained as a Hospital Corpman in the military.  I wake up.

This type of dream may be of the Somnium type as it seems to be allegorical in nature.  I’m not the father of two small Hispanic boys in reality and I don’t understand the symbolism of saving the younger boy or the questioning about my actions by the nurse and her associations.  I do possess knowledge regarding CPR and have used it in an emergency situation where I experience some of the physical sensations experienced in the dream.

The last type of dream I’ve experienced is clearly of the Oraculum type.  In the dream, I have a face-to-face visitation from my long-deceased father.  The place of the meeting is a pleasant and brightly lit space.  My father does not look like he did in the hospital ICU before he passed away.  He looks younger and in good health, relaxed but serious.  I am overjoyed see him looking so well.  In the very serious manner, he tells me:

“Prepare your children for the hard times ahead.  Teach them to be self-sufficient.”

I don’t think he conveyed this message to me using his own voice, but that I heard it somehow directly in my head.  After he gave me the message, I woke up.  I had a great sense of happiness and contentment after seeing my father.  Somehow my worries about his fate lessened and I felt he was OK.

Unfortunately, his instruction to prepare my children and by extension my grandchildren, for hard times in the future is easier said than done.  I have no doubts that my children and grandchildren love me, but for quite some time, I have felt they regard me as something obsolete.  My refusal to use Facebook, TikTok, Messager and the like has branded me as a relic from the distant past.  Added to their confusion about my mental state, is my loyalty to ancient religious practices and devotion to the cultural norms of the past.

My fear is that if I tell them I had a dream about coming hard times and the need to prepare, they will think I had taken leave of my senses.  Especially, if I tell them that the warning came from their long dead ancestor.  Any attempt to back up my concerns with facts, will be discounted as “your facts” as opposed to “real facts.”

For now, this remains a problem set aside for the future.  I think I must wait patiently for inspiration, praying that I will find the way to deliver my father’s dire warning in a manner so that it will be accepted and acted upon.

My experiment with Lectio Divina appears to have opened a door into the supernatural realm and now I must live with whatever pops out of that world.  I don’t find that prospect distressing as the information comes to me in an orderly and calm fashion.  My overall attitude to my dreams has been almost clinical.  I feel like an observer with not the slightest hint of personal threat from the messages.  In 1 Corinthians 14:33 it says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace,” and my recent experience bears this out.

Trying to make sense of my recent experience, I think that if someone makes a serious attempt to gain access to the supernatural realm, they will receive some form of response.  In my case, I don’t feel privileged in any way and I certainly don’t think I’m a prophet, seer, or necromancer, just an old man dreaming, dreams.

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This publication is part 3 of 3 in the series Reassessment