I’ve been down. I’m tired and down and I’ve been reading Dante and Dostoevsky. That is probably not the best plan, but it is what I have to do for school right now, so I am doing it. I am really learning a lot. Being down and being tired doesn’t mean the learning stops–far from it! The learning might be even more intense, but I have found it difficult to put my thoughts together and find the energy to write. I have missed my blog. It energizes me to get my ideas down and send them out into cyber-space and those of you who kindly read what I write have been a tremendous encouragement to me throughout this difficult year. I can’t really share all that I have been going through. I have not been sleeping all that well and last night as I tossed and turned, I didn’t really have a dream, but I did have a sort of vision, not a supernatural vision, but a creative one. Reading allegory makes one think in that mode in the middle of the night. Who knew? Anyway, here’s the first part of my allegory with sincere apologies to my new friend and inspiration, Mr. Alighieri.
Though I am very weary, I find myself lately falling asleep quickly only to wake up a couple of hours later unable to go back to sleep. My mind races and I toss and turn. Last night as I tossed and turned, however, I must have fallen into a deep sleep and in that sleep, I had a dream.
I dreamed I was dressed as a runner and I was preparing for a race. I found myself standing on a huge track surrounded by other runners, coaches and officials. The stands were full of people and more were flowing into the stadium to take their seats. There was excitement in the air. Our coaches spoke to us encouraging words. They said we were a team that each ran for the other and all ran for the King. The told us the race would consist of four laps of the vast track. All who made it to the finish line would win. They encouraged us to pace ourselves, said they would be behind us all the way and told us to run from a place of inner rest. We were not sure what that meant, but it sounded good and encouraging.
Before the race began I was called over to the sideline with six other runners. We were given weights to be fastened around our ankles and we had blindfolds placed over our eyes. We were told not to worry, that we would be guided along the way, but we were also told that we must stay together and run the race as a group. I was given charge of making sure we stayed together. This made me nervous, but I knew the King wanted us to succeed, and I believed He would help us stay together. We hobbled to the starting line in our ankle weights and held onto each other for guidance since we could not see the way. I was more nervous than I had ever been at the start of a race. We practiced guiding one another around in our blindfolds, trying to get the hang of it.
The time came for the race to begin. The gun sounded and we were off. I found it easy to stay with two members of my group, but it was not as easy to stay with the other four. We ran at different paces and sometimes we ran in different directions. It was so hard to run with the blindfolds! I tried to keep the sound of the crowd on my left, but as the crowd got louder, it was hard to tell one direction from another. The coaches yelled directions, too. Sometimes different coaches yelled different things. It was confusing. As we ran, from time to time we would hear the sound of young voices surrounding us. I knew in my dream that I was supposed to be guiding these young voices. I had to learn to recognize the individual voices for which I was responsible and I had to learn how to get them both to follow me and to run together. It was not easy. Sometimes it seemed impossible. Some of them didn’t want to run. Some of them didn’t want to run for as long as they had to run each day. Some were not well trained. Some did not understand the race. When the young voices would drift away each day, we would get back into our group and encourage one another. I did not know what I would do if it were not for my group.
The weights made running difficult and the blindfolds made it frustrating. As my group got more and more into a rhythm, though, we found it easier to run. We ran best together. When one of us was discouraged, the others would lift him up. It was when we were almost through the first turn that we began to hear jeering and booing from the crowd. Because of our blindfolds, we could not tell exactly who was yelling at us and because there was so much noise, we could not tell exactly what they wanted us to do. Sometimes we did hear directions, but often they were conflicting. Some said we ran too fast for this point in the race, others said we ran too slowly. Some said we needed to learn how to run. We were trying. The young voices that joined us each day were getting more familiar. Most days they made running easier and made the time pass quickly. I was thankful for my young followers.
Sometimes other runners, not from our group, would come and yell discouraging things at us. These other runners complained to the coaches about us and about our running. It was the hardest thing we faced in the first two laps of the race. I think a few of them were given weights like ours. When they saw our weights, they assumed that they were given the weights because we had weights first. We tried to explain that this was not true, but since we could not see them, we didn’t know the proper direction in which to speak. I sobbed as I ran and clung to my group members. The other four of our original group were also struggling. Sometimes we were able to run together and other times we drifted apart. Near the end of the first lap, we lost one of our group members. Now we were down to six. We kept running, leading our young voices each day, trying to keep up with our group. Sometimes we ran into each other or stumbled against one another. It was difficult, but we kept going and the six of us finished the first lap. We were tired, but we were learning to run together and we had come a long way. We were excited because of all we were learning and because of all that the young voices were saying and we knew the King was cheering for us