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28 March 2008

"Inclusio" of Two Dreams

With apologies for this not being light and fun….

Five years ago last month, I had this dream of three planes crashing. I remember less than a single dream a year, on average, so it stands out that I remember these two.

Dream, 2003:

It was on one cloudy afternoon, and I was driving my car near Hillsboro, Texas. I had my children with me and that nasty creature I used to call my wife.

As we were driving, we saw a low flying corporate sized turbo-prop, and knew something was wrong. One engine was smoking and it kept loosing altitude, crashing a mile or so after passing overhead. Alarmed, of course, and trying to figure out how to get to the crash site to see if there was anything we could do, we got lost. Out of the car trying to get our bearings, we saw two big jets coming down, one perhaps ten miles away and the other much farther. Suddenly, I realized that I could not find my children; and I could not find my wife.

In real life, at that time, the shuttle had just disintegrated over my home, and I had heard sonic booms from some of the lower flying debris. That had been a month or so before the dream. At that time, I did some volunteer chaplain work with a ground team unit which specialized in search and rescue operations for downed aircraft. I trained with them so that I would know the functions of each member in the unit, even though my role was limited as a Chaplain.

I remember the day the shuttle went down, and waiting for the phone to ring with a mission activating my unit. It never came, yet pieces of the shuttle had landed within a mile of my residence. That day, we were not activated, and I recall the frustration of an urgency to try and save lives, but being withheld from doing so by discipline. That was the real content of the dream—the catastrophe for which I was prepared to respond, but discipline restraining me from doing so. In hindsight, I knew trying to help was futile anyway, but in those days, I lived in hope.

Dream, 2008

Last night, I had such a similar dream. I was driving again, and this time, two large planes went down near ABIA as I drove. Each came as a surprise, and the first one went down and I said, "O God, no." There was no exclamation this time. It was a quietly muttered surrender to my inability to do a thing about it, but I heard others screaming at the horror we were witnessing. This time, it was strangers with me as I drove. Only a few moments later, I had stopped to let myself process the horror that I had witnessed, when another jet liner streaked into the ground already on fire and exploded on the airport grounds.

Like the 9/11 events, one was an accident, but two meant it was the result of evil and malice. Each dream had multiples—each dream meant evil has power. The dream last night, meant I now know I cannot fight evil and win, that there is no hope against it.

I know that most people do not believe in any evil in terms of a malicious entity (or entities). Most people may use the word to describe actions, but deny that there is any thought or purpose or intent that drives the actions. Those people scream in alarm at the horrors of evil, as I once did, and then begin the work of ignoring an "aberration" and falling back into being blind to it. But now, I merely mutter a quiet prayer that I know will not be answered. I can’t help it, but I cannot engage in the fantasy anymore—the evil is tangibly before me at all times.

I once found meaning and purpose in my part of that futile fight. I was so easily taken out. No brother in arms searching for the wounded behind enemy lines, no brothers at all—no arms at all. I keep my head low, and try not to be a target, but I don’t know why. Surviving without fighting because you believe you may be rescued and healed when all indications are that such is a fantasy never to be realized is the only thing less meaningful then fighting a battle that cannot be won and will surely end in one’s own destruction.

Maybe I may pick up my wounded self, grab something to fight with, and take up the battle again. I was once healthy and disciplined, but I still lost. Yet, at least I was fighting. So what if I am now weak and fear my discipline is questionable because I so rarely need to call upon it anymore? The battle will kill me this time, but it beats lying here waiting to finish bleeding to death.

Those two dreams, five years apart, meant something, and I knew it after the first one, but could never understand it. Now I know, that they form an inclusio within a time of my life. One cannot have full meaning without the other. An inclusio is a literary device used to mark a beginning and a completion reflective of that beginning—sort of bookends within a shelf of books, setting those within apart from the rest.

The first was a scream-producing horror that I was about to undergo in the presence of my family and the horror, itself, is what left me alone. The second, only among strangers, is a horror that I accepted alone, with no one to worry about, no one covering me—I think I should run into the flames of the wreckage, leaving the screaming ones safely behind and see if there is anything that can be done to help those doomed to death in the result of evil’s work.

Funny, I just realized this account of a dream and the meaning I find in it, is exactly the same theme as the first blog I made here (about the Vibert "The Return of the Missionary" painting). I suppose it comes down to not being able to face being a "wounded veteran" as the end of my life to live out. I didn’t survive to find my "ticket out."

Again and again, I hear, "Like a polished arrow I have hid you away…" Perhaps, I am beginning to understand what He means. Just now, my own heart screams, but not in horror, but with deep purpose of my favorite words in English Literature, "Once more into the breach." If it keeps screaming that, maybe my mind, my body and my soul will get up and act on the call to battle.

How , exactly, do I do that? Anyone? Anyone? Buhler?

Copyright © 2008 W. Crews Giles

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