In this dream, I do not see the implement with which he works. He is half turned from me. But the woman, in her soft, flowing skirt, is near. I watch the rise and fall of her chest, hear the suh-shu of her skirt on the stone floor as she bends and turns. I raise my hand in greeting and realize that this time she does not see me. They seem unaware of my presence, these people who have given me succor so many times in my life, in this dream.
The grandmother sits at her low fire, patting a white corn tortilla, making it small and flat and round. She lays it on a rock nestled among the coals, just large enough to hold it. When it stops sizzling, she flips it with her hands. I do not see her fingers touch the disk, so quick she is, but I hear the sizzle and pop as it slaps the rock. When the tortilla is crispy brown around the edges, she picks it from the rock, slipping it from hand to hand till it cools a bit, then uses it to scoop a bit of mushy meal from a small bowl warming near the coals.
With the other hand, she drops some herbs into a cup full of liquid near the fire, picks it up and carries both to the man lying on a stone bench. I recognize this bench. I have lain just so myself many times. The first time I dreamed this cave, I was lying on that bench. This old woman and another fed me mush, dripped warm, fragrant teas into my parched mouth, and held me in their arms until I was well and no longer sobbing.
Today, the old woman ministers to her charge alone. They are flesh and blood. I, merely a ghost, watching. The light flares and I see clearly the man lying on the bench. He is wearing a dark blue, nearly black, suit and a red tie. The man is George W. Bush. He is pale. His breath is shallow. The old woman drips the tea gently onto his cracked, dry lips. Like a little bird, he opens his mouth. She squeezes more of the liquid onto his tongue. His Adams apple bobs rapidly as she gently drops a bit more and a bit more of the soothing fluid.
I know the comfort of that tea, the gradual return to consciousness. I smell the mint and fennel and something bitter I do not recognize, and I find myself opening my mouth as if to receive even as I watch the grandmother set the bowl aside and pick up the waiting tortilla.
Gently, she squeezes a little of the mush to his lips. He tastes it carefully, then greedily as she pushes a little more into his mouth. When she has ministered the last of the tea and mush, she eats the tortilla herself, chewing slowly, her eyes closed, moving no other muscle. Then she raises her hands to the former president's chest and touches him.
This touch, too, I know, for I have felt it many times. I know the heat that comes from her hands, how it joins with the heat of my own body and spreads, upward through my throat, into the bones of my face, behind my eyes, into my brain, warming my skull; how it spreads into my lungs and down through the organs of my body, sets the marrow of my bones nearly on fire all the way to my toes. I know the gentle persuasion of this heat, how it heals my body and my soul from the inside out.
I know the release of breath escaping the president. I look for the smile on his face, that small half smile, the Mona Lisa smile, and yes, there it is. Not the smirk of 9-11, that smile he could not stop from spreading on his face as he addressed us that horrible day. This is the smile of peace, the smile of one who feels so loved in this moment it would be impossible to feel any thing else.
I release my own breath--a huge cleansing breath. What is this man doing in my dream?
Without acknowledging my presence, without so much as a nod or a gesture, the old woman, the grandmother, shows me the rest of the the cave. Everywhere are stone benches carved from this self same rock. On each bench reclines a world leader. Some, like the former president, are living today. Others, like his nemesis, Sadaam Hussein, are long dead. But here, all are living, and all are receiving the same tender succor and care.
Pay attention, I hear, not with my ears, but in my head. Pay attention. We love you all equally. Those who do evil, those who do good. We love you each as tenderly. We care for you each as gently as our own babes.
I see their faces, briefly. Many of them. People I fear, people I know to have done the most heinous of evils. A couple of people from my own life, who have harmed me along the way, lie here, reaching their little beaks to the moist herbs. Members of Congress who seem to care nothing for human tragedy, human suffering are here. Lobbyists who stuff millions of dollars into the lawmakers' pockets as we might stuff a five dollar bill into ours, lie here.
Newscasters who distort the truth and those who tell egregious lies are here. People who fund projects designed to coerce us to believe there is no threat to our way of life, that climate change is not happening, that it will not destroy us, and that if it is, there is nothing we can do about it, lie here. People who coerce and cajole us into wanting and buying things we don't need, to forget that it is our actions, our consumption that puts the world at peril, are here. The preacher who wanted to burn the Koran, and the Ayotollahs who plan to stone a woman to death who may or may not have committed adultery--they are here, each tended carefully by a grandmother, gently ministering healing herbs and the healing touch.
Pay attention. This is what saves human kind. This is the work that restores the Earth. Find a way to love.
Awake, my body glows with the warmth of coals spreading from my heart to my brain and down to my toes.
I will not question the wisdom of the grandmothers who speak to me in a dream. I will find a way to forgive and to love.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.