Dreams, A Staircase and the Organic Gifts at Our Feet
Dreams and dream study have been a significant part of my life journey.
Since I was young they have guided me to heal when health challenges have surfaced, commanded me to apply for jobs I wasn’t thinking of doing and getting hired for them. They showed me who I would marry and years later how it would feel as the mantle of becoming a widow came over me before my husband was even diagnosed with cancer. A premonition prompting me to better prepare for my financial future with him gone. They have been invaluable in healing grief and often lucid and insightful for my own personal growth in all the domains of my life. At times, they have also carried a different quality. Profoundly transcendent in that ineffable, unexplainable way; waking up filled with so much love I couldn’t move and calling me to surrender to the gift offered. They have often changed my perspective on life and the journey here, in the now. Fears and anxieties melt away organically in those sacred moments.
Have often wondered why most people pay so little attention to the importance of dreams yet they provide such a profound, organic opening to a greater awareness of the mystery of life if we just take the time to acknowledge them. They are right there for us all, naturally, it is simply a matter of slowing down and opening to them. It is also fascinating to me how dreams and visions often become more heightened as people near death. Or while in grief.
Many, many years ago when I was deepening my own spiritual exploration, I had a lucid dream that recently keeps coming back into my mind. In the dream, while hiking, I arrived at a landing, more like a ledge. It was solid, narrow with a flat rock face wall right next to it. The next step, or invitation if you will, was to somehow make my way to the ledge above. Looking up it seemed out of reach it was so high, towering against the backdrop of a vast open sky. Had to stretch my neck far back to get a glimpse of the destination I was being called to. The choice was to go back (in the direction I came), stay on the ledge or embark on an adventure to continue forward. If the decision was to go forward it was clear that it would open me to a whole new vista that I had not yet experienced.
There were two avenues that then appeared as options to get to that higher level. In front of me was something that looked like a conveyer belt you would see at the check out in a grocery store. It was continually moving, quite quickly with the belt on a pully that went from the bottom ledge to the top or next level. A crowd of people was gathering at the base of the conveyer belt. There was a buzz in the air and excitement reigned at the prospect of hopping on the belt for the thrilling ride to the top. But as I stepped back and watched there was range of mixed experiences. It was a bit tricky to catch the belt as one had to jump on and take hold quite strongly. The initial thrill bringing quite a rush. Some managed to catch the belt and get part of the way up but then were thrown off by the speed of the belt unable to keep their balance or grip. Others barely made it past the initial try. Then there were others that neared the top and almost caught the upper ledge but then lost their grip and fell back down or were thrown off (though thrilling) just as they attempted to grip onto the ledge. Hands slipping and they fell back down due to a loss of balance. The few that did make it and managed to stay took some time to catch their breath and take in the view. It all happened so quickly it took a while to integrate. They had to slow to orient themselves after all the excitement.
In my peripheral vision, far to the left, I noticed on the bottom ledge was another option. It was a single staircase. Incredibly narrow with many small stone steps and no railing. They had been carved with great care and detail. Each step seemed just big enough to place one foot with little room to make a mistake. No railings rather a sheer drop off on either side. Balance was key to each meticulous step taken. Presence, attention, and focus would be needed as one foot was carefully placed in front of the other. Slowly, with great intent, one could make it to the top.
The fascinating part was that NO one was waiting at the stairs nor was there anyone I could see already on the steps making their way to the next level. It was clearly less thrilling and arduous an option to make it to the higher ledge. No heightened “buzz” of excitement like the conveyor belt was generating.
After observing the people on the conveyer belt, and the range of varied outcomes, in the dream I decided to take the less popular option of the stairs. Knowing it would ask greater responsibility of me didn’t seem to be an issue, my curiosity was strong and drew me in that direction.
Each step would require discipline and focus. Balance was key. Halfway up the stairs I remember becoming gripped with an all-consuming fear as to whether I would fall. Frozen in place and questioning whether I had the strength and skill to continue. In those moments to melt the fear I had to focus on my breath, lean in more deeply to trust, and summon the courage to continue. Much like how I felt years later during a wilderness hike I did in my “real” life when traversing the ladders on the West Coast Trail. When fear took hold, I had to slow to the moment at hand and focus simply on the next step in front of me. This moment in the dream also reminds me of so many of the moments in my life when fear has taken over and I have had to breathe into its invitation to calm and continue on.
When I finally made it to the top ledge it was quite an accomplishment. Well earned, my footing felt solid and anchored as I stepped onto the upper ledge with ease. The view was beautiful, vast and I felt internally strong and renewed. With heart open I took a moment to drink in the breath-taking view before me.
Then I woke up.
The dream was impactful in so many ways and carried a clear message for me that still provides a constant reminder. When I want a quick fix or answer for something I am challenged with in life I try to slow down and focus on what I can do now, in the present moment. Remember to open and be curious instead of forcing or reacting. Which I clearly do sometimes better than others!!!
There is a beautiful quote by Helen Keller posted on my wall. For those of you who don’t know of her she was both blind and deaf and despite the challenges became a well-known author and lecturer. Her words….
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task,
but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great”.
Throughout history many rituals have been celebrated to open us to the mystery of life. Each tool offering an avenue for exploration. Some often used in conjunction with others. Nature connection, dreams and visions included. It does take more time and discipline to pay attention to dreams yet I have discovered they are like acres of diamonds at our feet to be harvested when opened to and held for the sacred gift they are.
Dreams of those nearing death become naturally heighted, more lucid, and carry a sense of reality for the person experiencing them that cannot easily be explained yet are profoundly healing. When respected and fostered, they clearly help those facing death have a smoother transition to end of life and also offer comfort for family and staff who are witness.
May we all find a way to take time to honour the profound wisdom in dreams and become more curious about what they have to offer. Organic gifts, right at our feet, that open us to a greater perspective and wisdom when celebrated for the rich insight they invite us to embrace not only in life but as we transition in death.