Into the Wilderness
Last night I dreamt I was being sent away into the wilderness. There were two of them with guns and the two of us together being sent. We were told to turn away from the road and keep walking toward the woods. Not to look back. They could have shot us then and there, but we weren’t afraid and it wasn’t terrible, this being sent away. The two with the guns weren’t angry or mean. We simply could no longer stay in the society.
The ground ahead sloped down and was fairly open. We couldn’t walk in a straight line because there were various hazards poking up through the ground. The leaves had fallen. The trees were bare. Ahead seemed safer than behind. We didn’t know the territory but weren’t afraid. We knew we had to go deeper and deeper into the woods to find our way.
Then I had to figure out how to get people to go into the wilderness. In the dream, this seemed important and logical, an issue I should find a solution to. How to get more people to go into the wilderness. How could people get beyond that fearful moment when you have to turn your back on someone who is pointing a gun at you? This would require people to be very clear about their commitment and their motivation for going. They would have to balance clarity of purpose with an openheartedness to be able to survive in the wilderness.
Upon waking, I am surprised by the calmness and naturalness of this dream. I’m not a very brave or adventurous person – even in my dreams I’m afraid of a lot of things. But in this dream, there was no fear. I wasn’t being brave, I was just walking into the wilderness. I felt no animosity to the men with guns that were sending us away. I almost felt as if they were helping us.
My immediate association with the dream is of Jesus in the wilderness—of his being tested in the beginning of his ministry and also of the many times he would withdraw from the crowds and retreat into the countryside. Wilderness is a place of danger and hardship but also a place for nourishment and revelation.
This morning, as Black Friday dawns and the acquisitive frenzy of our culture reaches its zenith for the year, I am comforted by this strange dream.
Our problem is not just Trump, but a culture that has lost its moorings amidst the greatest abundance known in human history. The still growing chasm of disparity between the rich and the poor. The desperate sense of isolation and meaninglessness in the midst of so many bright and shiny things that stubbornly refuse to bring us satisfaction and ease.
A turning away is of course required. Ready or not, we are sometimes forced into the bountiful darkness and must find our way in the wilderness. Leaving home is the beginning of the journey.