I wrote in “In Dreams Awake” about a dream I had that came true not long ago. Now I wish to write about another dream I had a few weeks back. It’s rare for me to remember dreams at all, and nearly unheard of for me to remember them in this much detail. So here is a dream that has not come true, at least not yet.
To unpathed waters, undreamed shores. – William Shakespeare
Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you. – Marsha Norman
I dreamed Mary and I were sitting in folding metal chairs – the gray and somewhat wobbly kind you see by the hundreds in church fellowship halls and outdoor events everywhere. We looked down and grass began to appear under us. The grass became mottled by dirt – bare places in the expanding grass – and was made uneven by tree roots slowly emerging from the ground.
Around us, buildings slowly began to reveal themselves, forming the boundaries of what became an enormous quad, a great lawn also ringed and permeated by oaks and magnolias. Then a sea of chairs coalesced all throughout the quad. Soon they were filled with people – an endless variety of families it seemed – from every generation and from every walk of life you could imagine, but none of whom we knew. They formed fully into being, sitting in perfect geometric arcs around the quad like a great parabola with a stage as its focal point.
A large, square formation of neat rows of chairs filled the space between the arcs and the stage, filled with students in their navy gowns, mortarboards, and tassels. Graduation? But for whom? I realized the ceremony was already well underway. Some students were lined up on the lawn to the right of the stage, waiting for their turn to cross the stage. One student was walking away from the stairs on the left side of the stage, holding her diploma in her hand, waving it triumphantly to her family. I could finally see the stage clearly, and it was filled with the usual dignitaries – principal, administration, teachers.
I still didn’t know for what person we were there. We have numerous nieces and nephews, friends working on higher degrees, or was this the past? I didn’t have a clue.
Then I noticed something very odd. No more names were being read. The ceremony had just stopped. The middle-aged man at the podium did not call out the next name. It was like everyone was holding their breath. Instead of impatience, I could feel anticipation swelling through the formation of students. You could see heads turning throughout the crowd. Many of them craned their necks up and around; some stood up to get a better look. The crowd knew something important was about to happen – everyone, apparently, except us.
For the longest time, nothing seemed to happen. But everywhere we looked, every single person was smiling. Many had tears in their eyes. All of them radiated happiness, drinking all this in like people savoring history. Then I realized that all of those jubilant faces were now looking at us.
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