Saturday, November 28, 2015
The Storyteller Visits the Prison at the End of Wilmot Road
Only rarely does the prison visit my dreams. Last night was one of those rare visits. In the dream, I and the inmates were all seated at a long banquet table, and yes, we were, as is the prerogative of dreams, drinking wine and eating bread. (Yes, the Big Guy was at the center of the table, but nobody was paying much attention to Him. We were more interested in the Earthly delights than airy spirituality.) The rational part of me wondered how I managed to smuggle all the wine, cutlery, settings, and platters of food into the prison, but rationality has little sway in dreams, so I didn't stay for long in logical disbelief. We, the inmates and I, were all drinking deeply and stabbing at the piles of food with our usual irreverent abandon when I noticed a figure outside the door in the shadows, watching the scene. I was the only one who seemed to notice this amid the clamor of the feast. He was watching me in particular. I could tell he was about to bust me for bringing in the food these guys needed. I felt an ice pick of panic pierce my gut. The party went on. He stood there in the shadows watching. I asked someone to pass me a beer. I knew he would come for me. It was just a question of when.
I woke with the dream still vivid in my rushing blood and short breaths. What the hell was that? I thought. Just the psyche shrugging off some of its dead skin? The voices offered some speculations: You've eaten too much over the past days and can't sleep for all the digesting. It's prison day and you are worried about being up enough for the workshops. You're just a weenie worry wart who sees danger everywhere. And on and on.
All of this will fade as the sun burns off the haze of sleep and dreams. I'll get dressed, pack the tubs, organize the materials, and make copies for discussion. Today will be a routine day -- just guys sitting around a table talking about life, ideas, stories, and ways to make sense out of chaos. We will try to hold despair at bay, find comfort in the courage of others. Just another day. I just have to do my part. One foot in front of the other. Pass the beans and the brew, comforts for the heavy weight of this ephemeral, fragile, and easily frightened body.