One day last week I was sitting in my rocking chair in the den reading King Lear. I fell profoundly asleep. Usually when that happens I drop the book or magazine which wakes me up. This time that didn't happen. I was glad because the tome on my lap was the collected work of William Shakespeare. A drop would likely have caused serious damage to my feet or the book, or both.
Suddenly I was brought wide awake by a voice saying, "Ross, there you are!"
The speaker came down the stairs just outside the den and walked around the end of the hall to the kitchen. I never saw her, but the voice was that of Ermina Bowes, my foster mother.
It was daylight when I fell asleep. It was now pitch dark except for the intermittent light from a street lamp over by Mudford's house. I looked at the clock. Six on the button. My first thought was that I must have slept in the chair all night. Sanity came back quickly, probably because this falling asleep happened a few months ago, but it was the telephone that roused me on that occasion. Then, too I thought I'd slept all night. In my stupour I asked, "Who am I talking to?"
"It's your son!"
"I know that, but which one?"
It was Mark in Corbeil making his usual weekend call. He must have been alarmed. The old man has lost it. Luckily, the cobwebs cleared enough to relieve his mind before we ended the conversation.
Having fixed the time, I leaned forward to look toward the kitchen. No light there. Although the voice sounded like a living presence, a live person would have turned lights on. Had to be a dream.
An aside. Mark played a part in this event. He advised me to read Fool by Christopher Moore for a laugh. I did. Moore's narrator is Lear's jester. Shakespeare hints at hanky panky in the castles. Moore gives us The Full Monty.
I was checking the Shakespearean text to assess how closely the Fool's version followed it. Pretty accurately, actually. Dead bodies all over the bloody stage in both final scenes.
Doug, the son I thought I was talking with on the above occasion, the Rev. Cordell Parsons and I talked about dreams over lunch on Sunday. Cordell told us of a man who makes a living interpreting dreams. I think Cordell's acquaintance follows Karl Jung's school in his search for meaning. Personally I prefer Sigmund Freud's school of thought. The two were friends but they fell out over some professional jealousy on Freud's part. My concern about Jung is his move from scientific evidence to mysticism in his later years. He kept to himself the belief that the creator took on human flesh because he was jealous of his creation. Jung was afraid he'd be attacked for such a belief, and that was before twitter.
Dreams are taken by the writers of scripture to be God's way of communicating with people. On the whole it's humane compared to slaughtering sheep and looking for messages in their guts. Gazillions of chickens have suffered the same abuse. Tea leaves are much to be preferred for prognosticating. Not only do they inflict no pain, unless you slop hot tea on yourself, they don't assault your nose. I can give personal testimony to the odour of chicken guts, having myself cleaned many a bird not for fortune telling but for enjoying a chicken dinner.
Each night when I snuggle into my bed I anticipate dreams as does one who enters a theatre.