Dreams, Signs, and Wonders

It is a soft morning. Heavy fog has given way to watery sunlight that has turned the surrounding landscape into the purple, beige, and pale blue of a faded photo. A gentle breeze is coming in the window and the neighborhood is peaceful. Our calendar is blessedly empty so it’s a perfect time to do small tasks and just be.

Wandering through the house with coffee cup in hand has brought me to my desk and a sympathy card I wanted to send. On the card was a quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson.

“Ah, that it were possible for one short hour to see the souls we loved, that they might tell us where they be.”

I wrote out the card and found myself in a nostalgic place thinking about those who had passed. My thoughts were not about an empty place in my life that should be filled by a certain family member, friend, or animal companion. I was wondering “where they be.” 

There are many sacred scriptures and books about the afterlife. Some people who have died and come back may have been there briefly, but their experiences are so diverse that no one really knows what it is like to call the next place home. 

If you are like me, you sometimes see signs, or have dreams or feelings that powerfully remind you of someone you loved. You may even feel their presence. I believe being out in nature can facilitate these experiences. One day while watching a flashing orange and black monarch butterfly that danced around us, my daughter in law Marlene, shared that every time she sees a monarch butterfly, she feels her mother is nearby.

Sometimes folklore comes into play. One legend is that when you see a white feather after an animal companion has crossed the rainbow bridge, it is a sign sent to reassure you that all is well. Once I had heard this, I looked for white feathers when we would lose one of our precious dogs or cats. And I always saw at least one. Maybe it is folklore or maybe not.

But consider this. One evening John and I were in the lower level of our tri-level house reading when we heard the unmistakable clicks of a dog walking across the hard wood floor above. Since this was a rare time when we had no pets, it was rather startling. We looked at each other and went to explore. No canine was in the house. Maybe a dog was going by outside, but all the windows were closed tight, looking out the window no dogs were in sight. The late evening light revealed a completely deserted neighborhood.   

And what of the night? I frequently dream about those who have gone ahead. Some are silly. Some seem very poignant. Have you ever awakened from a dream so vivid that you can still feel the remnants of a loved one’s presence? I like to think of these experiences as visits.

One dream was particularly significant. Shortly after my mother (Mary) passed, she visited me in a dramatic and very beautiful dream. Mom was standing in front of a group of people that were shadowy and unrecognizable.  A young Mary, younger than I had ever seen her, was clearly recognizable. Her face radiated happiness and peace. She was dressed as a 1940’s bride, in a white satin suit with a peplum. At her small waist, she held a bouquet of huge magnolia flowers. As she looked at me, she stepped forward and handed me the flowers. When they touched my hands, they turned into her recipes. Mary Jane Miller’s most treasured possessions were her recipes.

These experiences can make us ponder life as it is and what it will be. And so collectively we wonder, what are you doing right now loved one and do you sometimes think about or reach out to us who are earthbound? Do you hear us when we talk to you? Is that really you in our dreams or is it a bit of memory wrapped up in unconscious thought? 

I believe that one day we will find the answers to these haunting mysteries when we are joyously welcomed into that imagined place of joy and peace where hope is fulfilled. In the meantime, we can dream and look for signs and wonders.

photo by Michael Visencio

October 9, 2022

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