It has been a busy week at home, but away from work, it’s been very pleasant, the winds in a wild dance each day. As the crossing winds sang and chattered with one another above us, we tended to our dailies.
Still, a tiny voice in my heart asked, Where is my Christmas joy? The little trickle of joy from a few months back had fallen still. All was quiet within me, the little bells of joy suddenly hidden from my spirit.
3 days ago, before I slept off, I mentally traced a cross on each of my ears, asking God to speak to me.
Then, I dreamed.
On a brightly lit night in town, I was working, heading somewhere, intently pushing my new car. Turning to look back, I saw my children huddled together outside a building, worry in their eyes as they watched me leave them.
As I pushed my car, I glanced inside at the dashboard screen. I saw the indicators for the various functions.
And all the indicators showed that the power was dropping and dropping fast. Desperate to complete the job I had to do, I pushed harder, the distance between me and my frightened children increasing.
Unfortunately, soon, the power in every part of the car depleted and the car came to a dead stop. I desperately tried to restart it but the battery was dead.
For some reason, I couldn’t just backtrack and return to my kids. I needed to get my job done. Frantically, I calculated how much time I needed to get to wherever it was that I was going and to make the return trip to collect the kids, but I realised it would take far too long. The kids would be all alone and not safe.
Sobbing, I whipped out my cellphone to call my husband but I knew he was at least 3 hours away. The car was dead. My husband couldn’t get to us in time. And I was too far away from my poor kids. The anguish was too much.
The dream ended and I awakened, immediately alert, the dream very clear. But although I was upset and sobbing in the dream, I woke up completely calm. Nevertheless, the dream didn’t make sense. It wasn’t like me to neglect the children, to leave them alone and in danger. And why on earth was I pushing the car and not driving it?
I wanted to dismiss the dream but guilt and fear kept it before me in my waking hours. What if it was pride in myself as a mother making me want to ignore the dream? What if I wasn’t as committed to them and as vigilant as I assumed I was? Maybe it pointed to the future. Maybe I was going to make a work related decision that would ultimately hurt my family.
Mentally, I vowed to myself that no matter how enticing, I would not accept any promotion or new job offer that would put my family in second place.
But a caution within me warned me against leaning against my own interpretation of the dream. It was the first Wednesday of the last month of the year, so I hurried to St. Joseph’s door. St. Joseph, I prayed, Discerner of Dreams, tell me what my dream means.
He didn’t speak immediately but I never left him and continued to pray.
Late in the evening, standing at my window, contentedly looking out at the bloom blessed garden and listening to the winds chuckle and sing, my dream flashed before me. Then, a quiet voice spoke,
Burnout!! I was stunned! It wasn’t what I expected, and yet … it made immediate sense. The signs were all there. The exhaustion. The mental fog. The slow recovery.
St. Joseph’s answer had an unexpected effect on me where little else worked. I immediately put the brakes on myself. I slowed down a little. I listened harder to the winds in the trees, trying to make out the words to their song. To enjoy it.
For 3 days, even as I cared for my family as any wife and mother would, I trained my heart on enjoying them. But another question soon peaked up at me. How long before I return to what I am? How long before I return to that worn road of relentless pressure? To that of guilt, guided by the accusing voices of old which continue to live somewhere near?
So often, far too often, responsibilities overtake and overwhelm me. But even when they do not crook their finger at me, I’m never far from the workwheel, troubling what doesn’t need to be troubled with.
Because guilt is always near when I am at rest. Seeking to remind me of who I really am – as others from my past assert over me. And it is those voices that spur me to my feet, telling me that rest is not for me, that whatever others do, I must do more, eschewing help – because I didn’t need that help; I was merely choosing the easy way out.
That is why, as depicted in the dream, I am pushing a car which others in my place would have driven. In much of my doing, I choose the harder road – and not always because it needs to be so. I do not always accept the help I’m given. Guilt makes that choice for me.
Guilt hovers close, reminding me that if I chose otherwise, I would not be loved.
How long before I return to what I am? Not long. For that is a snare that never needs to hide itself. Then the cycle of madness and knocking on heaven’s door seeking for help, resumes. That is life as I know it, as it will always likely be.
The skies change their robes. The rain clouds gather once more, making their way towards us, and the sun goes into hiding.
But the winds toss their airy heads and carry on. If anything, the winds frolic more, deep in throes of ecstatic glee. The gathering rain does nothing to hold them back. I hear the winds laugh harder amongst the evergreen boughs, in gay abandon.
In some newfound joy!
On this final First Friday of a fast aging year, I return to my promise of atonement and reparation. It is then that I hear the most tender of Voices.
I hear love. Love as never before.
And I hear the words,
Look at Me, dearest