I keep having this … recurring thing.
I do not know how to describe it.
It’s a visual thing.
A repetitive vision?
A visual thought?
All I can say is that it began as a dream I had a little over a week ago.
I woke up last Sunday (the Sunday that came before the day before yesterday, mind you) from what seemed like an extremely vivid portion of a dream….but I wasn’t quite awake and I wasn’t all the way asleep.
I know this because the volume of a program on the television in my bedroom had gotten really loud – loud enough to awaken me enough to wonder in a split moment or two if the sound was loud in my dream or if it was reality – but I had not opened my eyes yet.
But then the sound went entirely away and I heard a loud ‘click’ – and I assumed that the sleep timer on the television had just gone off.
So I rolled over and started to fall back asleep, feeling thankful that my husband had thought to set the sleep timer (rather than letting the television blare all night as he sometimes does, unfortunately.)
I was aware of the possibility that it might have been early in the morning because I recall laying there in bed, with eyes shut, but sensing the light in the room.
And that’s when it happened.
Though I had lain there in silence – newly aware that the silence existed because the tv had shut off and feeling tired on the edge of returning to sleep again – I was acutely aware of the fact I was dozing off, and I felt pleased about it.
And the visuals that bloomed before my eyelids were the typical blobs of color that I’ll usually see as I am dozing off and I watched as they slowly formed into different abstract shapes, as that slow process is how eventually, I allow myself to fall asleep.
But then as clear as day – suddenly I saw a sharply defined image of an older woman – as clear as a photograph – in my mind’s eye. I could not place her – she did not look like anyone I knew. And I was a little shocked – because if it was the beginning of a dream, it came on pretty quickly and I felt a little concerned.
You see, the woman was crying loudly.
She wanted some soup. She was asking me for soup.
Please make me some soup, she wailed, please give me some soup! Please Pleeeeeeaaaasssseee….Why won’t you? Why won’t you?
And it was very strange! I was awake and aware enough to have a rapid string of thoughts, such as that I was in bed, and I would have to get up and most importantly, did I have any soup to give her?
I didn’t think so.
I recall actually rolling over and saying aloud, I’m sorry! I don’t think I have any soup and I recall that my mouth worked fine, my voice was clear and I was fully awake then…so much so that I opened my eyes and looked around the room.
You see, the sound of my own voice answering this dream-visual woman had woken me up.
And on that Sunday, I was certain that I had just had a rather vivid dream.
And so, I forgot about it.
And then this past Tuesday, I was sitting in front of my altar just as I was beginning to meditate, and I saw the same visual…of that same older woman again.
And the memory of that vivid vision of her and her wailing request for soup came rushing back.
To my surprise, I even felt a wave of nausea and guilt, as if I had broken a promise.
(But at the same time I also felt a bit foolish for feeling guilty. I mean, that whole thing had just been a dream, right?)
But as much as I tried to meditate, I couldn’t focus.
Wednesday into Thursday, another short interlude of that woman interrupted another dream I was having.
In the dream, I was walking down the street, in the midst of a conversation with someone else. I don’t even recall what that person and I were talking about, I just know that suddenly I felt a hand pulling on my clothes, and I looked behind me and there she was.
That same old woman standing in the middle of the sidewalk, trying to get my attention
And she was still crying, wailing those same words, that same request
Please make me some soup.
Please give me some soup!
I didn’t know what to say to her, but her sudden appearance in my dream was enough to shake me awake.
On Thursday afternoon, lunch-time, I found myself looking in my pantry-closet.
And though I was there to look for something else, it occurred to me that I should see if I had any soup.
Turns out I have a two cans of chicken noodle, and one can of beef stew.
I wonder what kind she wanted – broth or stew?
I was watching T.V. on Saturday, involved in watching a film I’d seen before, a comedy I enjoyed. I was laughing, focused on the dialogue.
And then, I was suddenly overcome with a thought of the old woman!
The vision of her just floated through my mind.
I can guarantee you that I wasn’t thinking of her even a moment before, but then I was.
I don’t know why the thought of her – complete with that same vivid image in my mind’s eye of her tear-stained face, and me watching helplessly as her wrinkled mouth opened and closed, as she choked over each word, her voice clogged by emotion that dragged over the long insistent vowels of please and why.
It occurred to me that when the vision of her comes, I cannot seem to shake it away.
And though her tears, her insistence affect me deeply, I feel helpless to speak to her.
I feel this wave of guilt and nausea when I see her, and though I feel those feelings, I don’t know where they come from when they come.
That probably doesn’t make much sense.
I feel a bit haunted, to be honest.
I don’t know what it means or who to ask about this strangely repetitive thing.