Thursday, October 22, 2015

Healing dream

At the worst point in my bout with pneumonia, I dreamed of staying in a decrepit college dorm with some frightened roommates. "The homeless ones are coming," they told me. There was a knock on the door, and 3 dark figures pressed forward wordlessly, carrying blankets and pillows. "Wait," I said, pressing back against them, "there is no more room here. Go down to the student lounge and wait there for me. I will help you find a place to stay." They departed silently, and I awoke soaked with sweat, and for the first time in many days, my lungs were clear.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Many years ago, in Indiana, I was visiting in a nursing home and happened to glance out a glass doorway at the end of a hallway and was struck by the stark image of dry, standing corn in the field behind the facility. The sky was gray and the corn stalks brown, shuddering randomly in the October breeze. "If you lived here," a voice sounded noiselessly in my head, "that cornfield would be your salvation." 
     A less appealing future is just as hard for me to imagine now as it was then, but to today that same image, brittle and brown as ever, appeared to me as I dozed in the hospital where I reside for the time being, hoping to recover from pneumonia. "Where do you suppose that came from?" I wondered. But there was no question as to which corn, which bleak prospect, or which Jonathan was being evoked and summoned.

Last night, pneumonia-ridden and feverish, I dreamed a familiar scenario of attending a conference/family reunion/deer camp in an unnamed seaside hotel. The event went into recess for the night, and a group of us stepped outside onto the beach. It was full night, with the white sand and low surf reflecting the moonlight. There was no sound...except for someone coughing. Coughing? It was me, gasping for breath as I felt myself drowning in pulmonary fluid. 
  Awake, I reached over to wake Nancy. "I can't catch my breath." "Have you used the inhaler your doctor gave you?" Bless you, Nancy, for your unfailing sense of timing. A couple of puffs, and the spasms slowed, at least for awhile. 
    But the image of black water and bright, empty sand remains, alongside the Indiana cornfield at the of a hallway. These are not cheerful visions, but neither are they simply downers. I understand them as somehow purgatorial, stark rather than menacing, invitations to an oblivion that, after all, includes Nancy and this hospital and the potential, always present, for some obscure salvation.