The soulful aspects of surgery

I have talked about the outward aspects of getting ready for hip surgery. However, I have not talked much about what is going on inside my head, much less inside my soul. Part of the reason is that I am a very private person and part is that I believe that something other than me is guiding my life — something  I don’t like to belabour, as I know many people don’t share that point of view.

I believe that energy is something eternal, even God if you will, and not only that, it makes itself known to me through the symbols in my dreams.

Not surprisingly, this odd assortment of personal characteristics can result in all sorts of reactions from other people: from enthusiastic  mutual understanding, to kindly sympathy for one’s forgivable peculiarity, to scepticism, ridicule and downright intolerance and even expressions of hatred (although I have not personally  experienced the last of these — at least not yet, as I haven’t yet sent this into the blogosphere).

I have been worried about the surgery, as I suppose most people would be to some degree and as I described in a previous blog. However, my recent dreams seem to tell me a different story.  Perhaps the message is to fear not, and as Julian of Norwich attests, realize that  All manners of things will be well.”

I am going to share four dreams just briefly:

October 7, 2014: I can walk again

… [at the end of a long-ish dream] I find I am walking by myself. Suddenly I realize that I am walking perfectly well — in fact, I am striding or hiking,  walking fast and energetically. I am thrilled: the operation was a success. I am walking on cobblestones, well-worn but still not smooth like concrete. It is only two days since the operation and I am not remotely needing a walker. Wow! I say to myself. Beside the wide walkway, the buildings are stone and old and about three stories high.

I enter a church where people are singing and see a staircase where one verse of the hymn is written in fine calligraphy on the riser of each step. “Cool,” I think and head off to the parish hall.

This is quite self-explanatory at least to me at this stage of the game.  Symbols I note are the archaic nature of the cobblestones and  the stone buildings, as well as the unexpected calligraphy on the steps of the church.

A few days later I had this dream:

October 13, 2014 I leap into the water

I am on a shore beside a large body of water – an ocean perhaps. There is no beach, just  a grassy verge and then very rough waves. I actually enter the waves . There is no undertow, and  there is a solid bottom on which to stand. The water is not all that deep, but the waves are one or two feet high.

Now I am further out in the water looking towards the shore. Other people are with me. Even though the water is rough, I am not afraid. I believe I call other people to come on in with me. Perhaps my middle child  is there too. I encourage others to come on in.

This doesn’t sound too impressive, but it is unusual for me because although I frequently dream of water, this is the first time in a dream that I have actually been in the water. The symbols of the ocean, the waves and rough seas have so many biblical and archetypal associations!

The next dream was just an image — no story-line at all:

October 13, 2014 I see black cows in a green pasture

I am looking at a meadow. The grass is very very green. Behind the field is a dark woods. There is a small heard of a dozen or so black cattle. They are quietly and peacefully  eating the grass.

That is all. I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of well-being.  What occurred to me in that fuzzy space between dreaming and awakening was the 23rd psalm: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he restoreth my soul …”

Later, with my spiritual director and in answer to his question, What comes to your mind now as you think about this dream?” I paused and then  said, “peace, order, and good government” —  likely one of the few times anyone has quoted the British North America Act during spiritual direction, but that’s what came to my mind.

He threw his head back, laughed and asked why! “Peace” is fairly obvious (contentment, lack of immediate danger); “order” suggests to me the natural order of things and the on-going never-ceasing cycle of life; and “good government” I take in this context to mean providence or in the words of the hymn, the love of God which “over and around us lies” (so no resonance with political governance by any means!).

Oddly or synchronistically enough, this afternoon, one of my Facebook friends alluded to a poem by  American Poet Laureate Billy Collins entitled Afternoon with Irish Cows.  You can enjoy it at this link where I found it on-line:

Admittedly, the cows in my dream were Aberdeen Angus beef cattle, not milk cows, and they made no sounds, but there they were: cows in a pasture. I have observed several herds of black cattle over the past few days, as we have travelled in the rural area around here.

Images I am thinking about include cattle, meadow, green, black, forest, eating, being eaten, grass.

The final  dream  ended with a frequent image in my dreams: train travel.

October 16, 2014  I travel by train

I am travelling with some young male apprentices on a train going east in a long brick tunnel occasionally punctuated by archways, through which to my right,  I can see Lake Ontario. The tunnel is very old and covered with moss and vines, and I reflect in the dream it might have been used by smugglers.

Suddenly the train leaves the tunnel  and before me is a magnificent glassy city. When I look more closely, I see it is really in two parts — a marina to my right, filled with lovely sailing ships, and the town itself to my left, full of moderately high, glassy buildings, light, bright and gleaming.

Suddenly I think the train has gone west not east, and I am disoriented, but upon reflection, I realize this is not Vancouver, but is really Kingston and that we have indeed gone east along Lake Ontario; I am not mistaken about the orientation. I look out at the city again and am really enchanted by the sight of it sparkling in the sun.

The overwhelming association I had with this dream was with the words in the  prayer at the end of the Eucharist: “the city of light where you dwell with all your sons and daughters,” itself a reference the vision of the new Jerusalem seen by the author of Revelation 21-23.

Symbols engaging me in this dream were the glass, the city and  king archetypes, the old wall made of bricks (old stony material being a recurring motif) and the smugglers.

I could go on and on about the images, but the over-all sense I had was of being upheld and  calmed. Perhaps this is where explanation pauses and  poetry may start. Over the next little while, in relative inactivity, I shall play with these dreams and perhaps write some verse, a sort of response to the call in my dreams.

5 thoughts on “The soulful aspects of surgery

  1. Liked this. Sounds like your inner self is looking forward to some relief. I wish you peace, order and good government and hope we can go for a hike while you are in Kingston!

  2. What surprises me Lorna, is how well you remember your dreams. I often wake up with a clear picture of a dream, but a short while later I have forgotten it totally. I have, however, had one dream since childhood and seem to have it reoccur again and again over the years. I’ll tell you about it some time, as it is too long to write about here. I sometimes dream about people, who I haven’t seen or heard from in ages. I always interpret that dream to mean I need to get in touch with them…and I do so within the day. There is never a deep dark reason for the contact, but it is always fun to connect. I trust your dreams mean you will find peace in the days ahead. With your surgery tomorrow, I wish you well and look forward to hearing about the happy outcome.

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