I rarely dream, but last night I dreamt that I was worried that a room in a house might be on fire. The room belonged to someone I worried about a lot, who had been perplexing me. I was worried he would burn the whole house down. Instead, someone showed me what was really going on inside. There was a large cylinder filled with liquid. Sparks were coming out of it, like electricity, which had only looked like fire. Inside, there was an animated skeleton at a workbench building other skeletons out of bones.
Usually in dreams, it helps to look at a "first feeling" and a "first association" in order to find out how the dream may speak to us. My first feeling was awe and happy surprise in the cleverness and originality. Also, relief that the "fire" was contained and no danger. My first association was of the "culture of death." Seems such a paradox- creative activity as the dead create more dead. Yet, this is what goes on in the majority of society today. That's what's happening in the "mass mind" of American culture.
It was not a "black and white" image, but animated with many facets of human experience. Unlike what Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead," the dead are creating the dead- They are using their creative power, the power of life, to create more death. The sad thing is how very few people see what's really going on.
For those of us on the outside, our first reaction is often alarm. We genuinely fear for the well-being of people because of the self-destructiveness that often results from "life" in the culture of death. We don't want to lose our friends and family members. The truth is that if we can be mindful of the emotion of fear and detach from it, it is possible to see how people are creating beauty from the "bare bones" of life. Just because someone is a part of the "culture of death" does not mean they don't also have those amazing sparks of life in them. It's on a continuum, not a case of "us and them."
When I wrote Borderline and Beyond, I had the same emotions as the ones I had in the dream. Basically, I backed up from the train wreck of my life and saw the beauty in the worst of circumstances. My ability to write and produce art slowly helped me find my way out of the darkness that threatened to destroy me. We need to hold on to and nurture those strengths. If we are to help those who are struggling and lost, we should show them the light and not only disparage the darkness we see.
I can't forget how intimately I know the culture of death. For those of you who don't know what that means- The culture of death is about despair, self-absorption, apathy and poverty. Some say it is about abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, suicide and so on. I say that that despair and self-absorption often lead to these things, but the "culture of death" is a much wider concept. It permeates our media. And yet, in those creative sparks, so much hope abounds!
I loved the movie, "The Nightmare Before Christmas." I have found joy in the Mexican celebration of the "Day of the Dead." As in Ezekiel, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." (Ezekiel 37:4-5)