Recently, as part of its fundraising, the St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota mailed me a dream catcher. The legend of the dream catcher among Native Americans of the Great Plains is that the air is filled with both good and bad dreams. The good dreams passed through the center hole of the dream catcher to the sleeping person…the bad dreams remained trapped in the web, where they perished in the light of dawn.
Covid and the year 2020 felt like that. A lot of bad dreams trapped in darkness. Now, the pandemic is on the wane, sparking possibilities…indoor dining, splitting dessert with a friend, maybe even a trip to the airport.
For Native American tribes, sharing a dream in community was considered a privilege, not just for the dreamer, but the listener. I felt that many times in our Women’s Writing Circle, a circle like the center of a dream catcher, conjuring timelessness and the universal experience of life told through stories.
One of my recurring dreams this past year was about the American Southwest. I can’t say how many times I’ve dreamed it, but at least half a dozen. In the dream, the same thing happened again and again. I didn’t want to leave. I lingered over lavender and orange sunsets and breathed deep the pungent aroma of the desert floor after a monsoon. In the dream, I kept postponing the flight back to Philadelphia and the darkness of winter. A psychoanalyst might say I was avoiding coming ‘home’, preferring to escape reality…the isolation.
Writing about my dream now, I sort through my thoughts. Where do I go from here? How do I move on from this life-altering year? What brings comfort and contentment? No matter where I am, desert or suburbia, it all comes down to me. Only I can invent my own destiny. So, I put pen to paper…I write for no one but myself.
I also believe new stories will not find their way to other women unless we write them, share them, break the isolation of the past where women remained voiceless and silent.
April is upon us, the month when winter’s detritus is replaced with pink splashes of magnolia and chartreuse trees. Mid-morning sun warms me with hopes that summer’s long languorous days are not far behind. I step out on the deck, soaking up heat and light. My yellow lab, Lily, rolls in joyous abandon and rubs her back on the grass, long white-blond legs pointing skyward. Maybe later, I will start looking at those flights out West. That’s my dream now. Not escape, but renewal.
Many of us are alone and in our sixties and seventies and beyond. Who is the woman alone and what makes her find within herself the strength to carry on when so many have left or died? Maybe the legend of the dream catcher holds the key? Dreams must be shared in the circle of faith, of other women. Bad dreams perish, rendered harmless in the dawn of a new morning.
Now that the pandemic is on the wane, what is your dream?