In my dream, I was scheduled to play golf with a friend. Never mind that I haven’t played golf in over a decade, gave my clubs away a few years ago, and wore-out my golf shoes by using them for yard work (they aerated the lawn while I walked!).
I scrambled to borrow some clubs and found a pair of athletic shoes that I thought would give me a little traction and not damage the greens. By the time I got all the equipment together, dusk was approaching.
I decided that I would drive my yuck-colored 1965 Chevrolet Biscayne, with gold shag carpet in the back window and perpetually standing water in the trunk, to the golf course. Of course, I haven’t owned that broken-down car since I was 19. In the dream, it was parked behind my house, next to my first car, a creamy yellow 1965 Ford Fairlane, with a straight-six .289 engine, an engine uncomplicated enough that I could actually work on it. The Fairlane was actually totaled in a wreck when I was 17.
I couldn’t get the Biscayne started and the Fairlane was out of gas, so I got a ride from a friend to the golf course. The clubhouse looked strikingly like the parsonage in which we lived when we served the First Baptist Church of Locust Grove; it wasn’t near a golf course, but sat in front of a sprawling cemetery.
In back of the “clubhouse” was a rusting swing-set which I had bought and assembled new at another house. Eliot, now an adult, called (these things only happen in dreams), to say that, since I am getting rid of broken things, he’d arranged to have the swing-set delivered so that I could take it apart and junk the pieces after I played golf.
It was dark, completely dark, when I finally was “free” to tee-off, so, needless to say, I didn’t play.
I don’t have a subtle Dream-maker. My subconscious knows that, if it wants to get an important message to me, it needs to use vivid and unmistakable imagery.
My youth is long-gone, as are the oil-guzzling Biscayne, with a headlamp held in place by, I kid you not, duct tape, and the Fairlane, a fast and fun car, which became scrap-metal after a woman backed into it when I was on my way to school.
Golf, which I played with and for my Dad, is dead for me, as is he, so it’s fitting that the course seemed to be located at the same cemetery in which he is buried. I am aware, too, of how multiple myeloma, a progressive and incurable illness, keeps the fact of my own death ever-present in my consciousness.
My children are not “swing-set age” any more and haven’t been for a long time. They are bright and strong people who are making their own ways in the world. Part of being a good parent to young adults is, I think, learning to disassemble the structures we provided for them early on and trusting that they know how to provide for their own work and play. My role, it seems is to provide sheltering love when they need to “go back through home again” (Carlyle Marney’s phrase), and to encourage and pray for them as they become their honest-to-God selves.
Just before I woke up, I “remembered” that the Biscayne and the Fairlane were long gone.
My dream provided a counterpoint to the quiet gratitude I feel for what remains: God’s love, mediated through worship, creation, and the love of family and friends; meaningful work to do, especially the challenges and gifts of teaching and writing; enough health, despite its diminishments, to enjoy being alive in, and for, the world; and a dream, not of the past, but of God’s future, when all shall be well for all of us and all creation.