Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 30, 2009

You’re Innocent When You Dream

I’m a convict, prisoner of this present storm, dreaming of lost innocence.

“You’re innocent when you dream.” –Go and Ask Her, Bill Mallonee & Vigilantes of Love…


Sleeping, dreams of isolation & connection again… earlier in the week, had a dream of Norma, a friend’s mother, as a bush pilot, flying me into a wilderness, but also flying me to freedom.


Today, after only 3 hrs sleep (up late doing grades/work catch-up), I had a dream of explaining my own lo-tech college undergrad life (1983-1987) to my current college students. No cell phones, no email (except GES & the other computer geeks on campus). Computers were only beginning to be privately owned –my first was my wife Sue’s original Macintosh cube w/ NO Hard Drive… it worked (and still does!) strictly off of a floppy, including for startup. I was age 26 when we got married (1991).


Then my dream moved toward my son Graham and a vision of him with a mentally ill (low-affect? depressed? medicated?) woman (Wendy but not Wendy). She was also me. She put him on a crowded city bus at his current age (6), but did not get on herself. (A dream partly about responsibility & avoidance of same as a parent, and about my own isolation or fear of abandonment…) Cut to him on the bus: terror slowly dawns in his heart, on his face, as he realizes he is alone and lost/does not know where he’s going or why.


Half awake now, considering the bonds Graham shares with Sue & I. Considering the fear of abandonment he shows in certain situations, like not wanting to be left strapped in the car when we quickly run into the house from the driveway, having forgotten something inside. Or when he thinks he’s in the house alone, and then tearfully/anxiously comes around the corner into family room or bedroom when we have not heard him calling, or have not answered him yet. Though he chooses to occupy himself with other business more independently each year, at age six, we are still his context, his only dependable means of navigating his entire world (beyond the confines of his 1st grade classroom, at least… the one place where he’s mostly out of our reach, where we must trust he is safe and being taught the right stuff… maybe a real fear for certain immigrants who have a hard time trusting this process, or at least used to be a real fear 100 years ago).


More on interdependence: talking yesterday with WW teacher Betsy re her other teaching (pass/fail!!!???) at Truman College & Nat’l Louis… she admitted to having “grading angst” … we shared a laugh re: our school’s sucky Gradequick computer program. Another teacher (Rory) and I commiserated with her. Most teachers hate grading & assessment, especially standardized tests. We dislike measurement in general… At least most teachers in the humanities. Education should be touchy-feely, …right?


I also had, as part of this morning’s waking dream, a section where I went back to Reba Place Church to share at the microphone during worship re our family’s current status & journey. It was this coming June, a year after we left. I may actually go there some Sunday soon and do this for real… to “explain myself” & say thanx. Lately at Redeemer I’ve been missing that “responsive” or co-owned quality of the RPC worship opportunity… 


On my recommendation, Phil (a friend from my menswork) showed up at Redeemer last weekend. He lives very near the church, knows people who attend, but had never been there himself for a service. He showed a curiosity about the prison ministry Redeemer is beginning to explore. I’m glad to be a means of possible inter-connection, especially for men “on the fringe” that I encounter now and then. We all desire community, of one sort or another.


 — —

Listened to podcast Tuesday of a This American Life show: included a harrowing cautionary tale of religion gone bad, among the Fundie LDS Mormon followers of Jeff —-  , who had the gall to ban the color red (nyah nyah…) , and to restrict the lives of his flock in such oppressive ways that the treatment amounts to abuse. Why would anyone remain in such a system? Cuz they’re trapped, but also cuz they don’t want to not belong to anything/anyone. They can’t conceive leaving the only “home” they’ve ever known. The isolation/disconnect is tougher to bear than the abuse. (Is this called Stockhausen Syndrome?)


The connections between the FLDSers and other insular communities (including Amish and Mennonites, somewhat) are not lost on me. Main difference is the freedom: Anabaptists (& Benedictines, & other relig. orders) choose to subjugate their own will somewhat to the group out of love (for God, and brothers/sisters)… they know they can leave, but don’t want to, …PLUS it’s not fear but faith that keeps them rooted in a place, in relationships, in community w/ each other. This is what keeps it (usually) from slipping into more of a cult-like existence.


“We take care of our own.” – – I think also of the Travelers/gypsies, as depicted in the recently-canceled FX tv show The Riches. Power & love… a deadly mixture sometimes. Add God to the mix, and anyone would be hard-pressed to keep the scared/rudimentary/sinful self in check.


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Give us your safety. Let us be weak, trusting in Your mercy. 




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