A dream, an interpretation, and a question

I love dreams. Fascinating juxtapositions of familiar and new things, wonderful symbolisms, surreal fluidity.

The Dream

I hid first from someone coming to the house, because I wasn’t yet dressed; then the husband told me to hide from her again at church because he thought I had been rude.

Stung, I left the church, first trying one of those emergency exit only doors, setting off an alarm that declared via loudspeakers, “The emergency door has been activated. This crime is punishable by death (something that sounded like ‘sometimes,’ then more garbled words).” While crowds gathered at all the emergency doors, excited to see a criminal, I slipped away in search of a regular exit.

I found the youth group that I volunteered with (this seems to be the church we attended in Richmond) and searched out Tim, the youth leader, feeling desperate not so much for a mere hug, but a hold. He saw me and started towards me at an unhurried pace, ready to start a normal conversation, but when he finally understood the desperation in my eyes and gestures (could I not speak?) he came near and held me, and I held on tight for a moment.

Finally leaving the building, I was in the street at night, wearing black; maybe I would be hit by a car — that would show him, and it would solve my desperation by ending everything.

Later, in what seemed like a distinct dream, we were in an auditorium, as if at a youth conference, waiting for the show to begin. I was reconciled with someone who seemed to be the husband, but didn’t look like him, and I don’t think we were married.

Along came Chris, who sat beside us, carelessly spilling most of his Coke on the carpet and making no move to do anything about it.

Curiously, Chris looks like Scott Savol, my least favorite American Idol contestant. I’ve had mixed feelings about Scott; inclined to dislike him and think he’s a phony, but suspecting I should give him the benefit of the doubt, and that perhaps he’s actually more real than some of the other contestants.

I tell him (Chris) that he ought to go get paper towels or something. He makes no move. I threaten to tell the building managers who’s responsible for this damage. Chris’s youth leader feels this to be an attack. He gets up and comes over to tell me that I’m not loving; that the loving thing to do is not to nag or threaten, nor to ignore the mess, but to clean it up myself. My youth leader (Tim again, although this time it seems I’m a youth and not a leader) chimes in, saying that it was wrong to make the threat.

Some Ideas of Interpretation

I think hiding was part of the first dream because yesterday I was in a recording studio, sitting on the floor while the engineers did something in the control room; I wondered if they could see me through the window, since I was sitting on the floor. In the dream, I was trying to hide by a window so I could see without being seen, but I felt that I misjudged and placed myself where I could be seen.

I have no idea why I had such a strong reaction to the husband. Telling me I’d been rude doesn’t seem to merit a suicidal desperation to leave. Likewise, I imagine the penalty for wrongly using emergency doors is hefty; but it can’t possibly be death. I think this subtopic merits more reflection.

I’m not sure why I turned to Tim… except he’s certainly a familiar face and someone I trust. We worked together for four years, had our differences, but came to understand and appreciate one another. But I’m not sure why he was there, and not some other person I also know and trust. He was probably there because the setting was church, but why were we in church?

The hold vs. hug makes sense. The idea of hold is a psychological thing. The maternal hold is the ideal mother’s ability to hold close a baby out of control with rage or grief or want. She doesn’t withold love by going away or putting the kid down until he’s calm. She isn’t manipulated or threatened by him either. I desperately need this kind of hold, because I’m the irksome girl, full of rage and grief and want, and I need my friends and family to bear with me — neither withdrawing nor giving in. God, of course, is the best hold.

In the other dream, I’m curious as to why the husband didn’t look like himself. I’m also curious as to why Scott Savol showed up at all, much less with a name. And why Chris? I can’t think of any Chris’s in my life that would make sense in this dream.

The Question

What especially intrigues me about this second dream is the question of responsibility for other people’s sins. On the one hand, the Bible seems to indicate that we should be accountable to one another, and that we should — with proper humility — help one another confront our sins. On the other hand, with the question of lawsuits, someone (was it Jesus or Paul? I can’t believe I have to ask that) said, “why not rather be wronged?” In other words, clean up the Coke myself. Just like we tell kids in school or youth group, “I don’t care who threw it on the floor, please help me pick it up.”

Spilled Coke is not a big deal. Easy enough to clean up myself. But what if Chris is habitually careless, and habitually cleaned up after? Is it sinful to “enable” this bad behavior? Is it good “tough love” to require him to clean up after himself? Can there be good holding? i.e. can a demand for right behavior coincide with continuing love? “Tough love” sounds like good holding, doesn’t it?

So why am I being yelled at by these youth leaders?

Maybe they’re right that I’m being unloving. But maybe they’re wrong about identifying the loving thing to do. Maybe my action is correct, but my heart wrong.

Anyway, the question reminds me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Forget what you know of the story, and go read the book. It’s short, and quite different from the version(s) floating around popular culture. Most of the book is narrated by Jekyll’s friend, who is committed to not interfering in his friends’ lives. Perhaps this non-interference is at least partly to blame for Jekyll’s demise. When I was student-teaching we compared this situation to the too-common one of students having friends who are into drugs or other dangerous behaviors. Jekyll’s friend thought it was more loving to let Jekyll go his own way, whatever danger it might have posed. Was he right?


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