Electric Dreams

A View from the Bridge
August - September 2006

A month and a bit

Kathy Turner

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Turner, Kathy (2006 October). View from the Bridge: August - September 2006.
A month and a bit. Electric Dreams 13(10).

Dreams seem to be naturally rhizomic. A hat becomes a person becomes a sky becomes a light. Image links to image in fast memory connections. An endless dance.

On the Bridge our central interests are peace and dreams. All of our ideas flow into and through these two principles. But what we link up to these concerns is sometimes truly amazing.

This month and a bit review traces just some of the major rhizomic connections we have been making: the war on Lebanon and continued destruction of Iraq; weeds and flowers; dealing with awareness of the sadnesses of others; dreams and peace events.

Of the invasion of Lebanon and continued destruction in Iraq

The barbarous and senseless Israeli invasion of Lebanon shocked many of us on the Bridge. The worst moment was the massacre in Qana. Thirty seven young children and some elderly people killed as they tried to shelter from the Israeli bombing of their village: too afraid to leave as others had been killed doing just that. But it was not just Qana that shocked: it was the merciless Israeli bombing of ambulances; of citizens, of attacks on hospitals and on the bombing of the capital of Beirut; it was the 1 million refugees (1/4 of the country’s population); it was the disastrous environmental destruction as Israel bombed a power plant and flooded the Mediterranean with oil; it was the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure of roads and airports and water and electricity; it was the silence or even active support given to Israel by particularly the US and the UK.

The invasion tested us on the Bridge too. Some were horrified, sending message after message of information; some remained silent; some expressed afterwards that it took them some time to realize that the horror expressed in email after email was not anti-semitic – just horror at war and what the Israeli government was doing.

In the midst of this we found out that the young Iraqi woman raped and murdered along with her family by US soldiers was Abeer Qasim Hamza. She was just 14 years old. Ilkin said her name is "Fehriye" in Turkish and added with such sadness: "meaning 'honorary'. But they took her honour by the worst way".

Ilkin asked that this month’s DaFuMu be for "Lebanon Children/ Civilians and Peace".

And Kotaro from Japan (gently remembering and older war, and an older destruction: unconditional surrender in World War II in August of 1945) reached into his heart of compassion at the horror of Qana in Lebanon now and found a blue dragon. He wrote:

The bombing at Quana damaged my heart so much. Last night, all the way in the train to my home, I was chanting the Heart Sutra in my mind as I could sit down on. Then, suddenly an odd image appeared clearly in my heart. It was a horrible darkness, at the bottom were the fires, and I could see a blue transparent pipe was climbing up to the dark sky. This image was fullfilled with my heart sutra chant. I could not recognize what it was but as it was so clear.

And Anna replied reminding us again how it is balance that is needed:

Yes, the Blue Dragon - Water IN Fire - not just after. I keep thinking & feeling that we NEED the Fire - it is not to eliminate it, but to use it well - and that can only be done when it is balance. Our human way -to always try to go to extremes, not respecting the natural balance of all things...we try to draw a straight line renting the spiral of life, and it damages. We in the US seem to want all for ourselves at time (I write with shame and confusion) - not seeing how, as in the yin/yang image, that leads right to nothing for us or anyone. where if we'd only surrender to balance- some for all - ALL (us too) might prosper more...

I can't see images sent to the list - I can well imagine the Blue Dragon, though, the Beast of Fire in Water, our ally.

And Victoria, our archivist, finds one of her earlier dreams of a dragon. It too has the dragon in a place of respect, though fear accompanies the dream:

During some of this dream I had a sense of fear; of being out on a limb without obvious support from anyone. I was in very dark woods and something with a big dragon's eye that sometimes looked like a cat's eye or the eye of another animal as looking at me. This thing was tremendously powerful and worthy of respect. When I made myself look beyond my fear I could see that it wasn't trying to attack me; that perhaps it was new. Just because something seems big, doesn't mean it can't feel shy too.

Our dreams and images of balance meet up with the growing instability in the Middle East. Ilkin reports the terror she feels at the escalation in violence in Turkey as the PKK (Kurdish "terrorist" group) uses the summer tourist season to attack Turkey and as the Turkish government discusses both sending Turkish troops to Lebanon (as part of the UN "peace" keeping force) and as it prepares to enter northern Iraq to attack PKK camps.

The occupation in Iraq and the instability in the Middle East was increasing.

Ilkin begs us to try to understand what is happening. She writes:

I was telling about my worries for a long time (I was telling about the gathering of troops at the border)...I can only repeat what I wrote to Jean and some other friends several times, again and again; "please, please follow what is happening at this area of the world closely"...

Today as I write this month's review, Mary sent in the latest news from Turkey of a bomb blast in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish-majority city in Turkey's southeast, with 7 of the dead being children.

Of dreams

Of course some of our dreams link directly to the terrors we hear about daily. One dream was from Mary:

It was something about terrorists trying to blow up something (I hear an explosion and see smokey-cloudy-gray color all around me) at the Michigan and Canadian border.

Is it a precognitive dream? For Mary it was very specific and had a clear link to previous dream:

My guess is this is coming from my last dream about seeing the red Canadian logo on the plane that "almost" crashed into a very high-tall mall.

Joy was our dreamer for the DaFuMu this month – and a very appropriate dreamer too as she is from Lebanese background. Her first dream is stark:

I dreamed a child took me by the hand to show me something that he had found disturbing. It was indeed terribly disturbing: an animated diagram of a child who had been playing alone in the tall grass outside his town, smashed by a helicopter's circle of destruction so that only his upper half remained. I wished I hadn't seen it and I was glad it was a line drawing rather than a graphically realistic horrifying bloody image. But there was no escaping it. It was on the Internet; it was on a bag of bread. It was a reminder of what really happens to the children of war and the imagination can do the rest.

Later as I woke, that anonymous dream-voice that speaks sometimes on waking said cynically, if I remember right now: "There are one thousand one hundred eleven of them - but the one doesn't matter." I thought the point must be that of 1,111 every one is ONE and every one matters.

Another dream from Joy:

When I hoped to dream something more healing post-DaFuMu, the most vivid dream I had was that someone had picked the two green lemons that I'd been watching slowly grow on my little lemon tree. I recognized them immediately - one almost full-grown, one small, both still very green -and I was so angry. Why would someone do this? Couldn't they see these were nowhere near ripe yet, and now they'd never ripen?

Joy comments:

I always wanted a lemon tree especially for flavoring Lebanese food - almost every meal has a lemon in it - and just this year finally got a dwarf lemon tree that I can move indoors in my non-Mediterranean winter. Pulling my cherished first new lemons from the tree before they have a chance to grow and ripen is surely an overly-gentle symbol for killing the children of Lebanon. Where does the healing come in?

Which Joy answers immediately herself with the memory of a book called The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan. The book concludes with an “account of how Jewish and Arab children have together planted seeds salvaged from one desiccated lemon tree planted long ago behind one stone house.” Here is a review of the book: http://www.bookpage.com/0605bp/nonfiction/lemon_tree.html

Sonia gives us her first dream: a very appropriate one. The memory of her German ancestors; their involvement in the holocaust helping where they could; their dream state now (opening to happiness):

I always wanted a lemon tree especially for flavoring In the first dream I was in a big mansion as the other dreamer stated she was however, my time period was the present except in the attic of the house. I have been in this mansion in previous dreams, but the attic was always old and had no life to it. This time I went upstairs and I heard lots of talking and laughing behind the door. I opened the door and the first thing that came to my mind that these were people that had lived in Germany during the holocaust. There clothing matched the time period and both my grandparents (that are now deceased and Germans) were there. Everyone looked nice and healthy and were gathering for a big meal. Besides my grandparents I had never seen any of these people before.

The second dream I am not sure was even a dream because it happened so fast. The shape of Christ (made with pure white light) appeared with a black background. It was hard for me to see, but I had no doubt who the shape represented. The shape moved closer and closer and then disappeared and I woke up.

And Rita sends us a chapter of her book detailing her own "dreams and experiences of healing [her] ancestral war wounds". The book is beautifully titled: Following my dreamlines - living from the inside out.

Of weeds

Where does our discussion of weeds begin? It is hard to say. “Seeds” as a symbol of peace (and conflict) weave throughout our discussions. Jean reminded us that one of the very first dreams was from Jody: "The New Age Seed Company".

But weeds specifically: where did the discussion start? Probably unconsciously we made a link to an article that Jennifer sent us from Starhawk (environmentalists and peace keeper) in which she links the idea of exterminating weeds to the use of force in war as a means of stopping something we don’t like. Interestingly, that unconscious link came through in a conscious request from Kathy to our two great flower photo senders (Kotaro and Jennifer) for some pictures of weeds.

We received beautiful images of weeds from Japan from Kotaro and wonderful native flowers from Joy in the US. More, we entered a whole discussion where the question of weeds and invasion wove together.

Joy sent us her thoughts in which she weaves her love of native American plants with stories of hollyhocks in China and Tibet and a mediation on how to roam and not be invasive.

People tip the balance to where Mother Nature, who has to work with what she's got, takes it from there. To name examples near my home, people scarcely know what the hills of coastal California used to look like before oat grass arrived (with cattle, in the historic past); and much of eastern Nevada will never be sagebrush again since cheatgrass took over (all within about the last 5 years).

I don't want to take the analogy TOO far as there are things I'll do to a plant or plant community that I'd never advocate for a human or human community! - but it goes back to what I remarked about the world scene a week or two ago: we have to start where we are. If we apply more awareness and a different set of values, we may be able to influence future change to be less catastrophic and devastating.... in whatever realm we can influence.

I'm pretty dedicated to defending an all-native flower garden. Almost all-native. I might plant some hollyhocks.

Now this is important to me: I don't want anyone to run with my analogy and say that people who go where they're not native become weeds. People are people; we belong to the whole world; we wander and people new places; it's our nature. We also cling tenaciously to ancestral homelands. We also, alas, invade and conquer. The extraordinary thing about people is our capacity as individuals to choose to behave like cheatgrass or hollyhocks.

Cheatgrass cheats by getting a head start: it sprouts in the fall while the native plants are dormant, so by spring it's robbed their water and nutrients. By summer lightning season, it's dropped its seeds and dried to a fine tinder. Flash! - a fire rages across the landscape, killing everything. Next spring, the cheatgrass seeds germinate unharmed – and miles and miles of sagebrush country (with all its native wildflowers and birds and lizards and voles) have been converted forever into rolling golden hills of beautiful waving cheatgrass growing so densely that nothing else can ever again take hold. That's called a cheatgrass invasion.

Hollyhocks were my dad's favorite flower; I used to plant them for him. They grow as well here in the high desert as they do in an English country garden. When I went to China this summer I was delighted to see them flourishing among brown rock walls in the mountain villages of Sichuan. When I tell people back home, they wonder, "How did they get there from England?" - before it occurs to them that it might have been the other way around! So far my searching turns up equally-authoritative claims that they're native to China and they're native to the Middle East. Trade between China and the Middle East is ancient indeed. This woman of Middle Eastern descent and her partner of Chinese descent rode a bus onto the Tibetan plateau marvelling at all the hollyhocks along the way without knowing which of our ancestors first carried a pocketful of seeds which way along the Silk Road.

I've never heard of a hollyhock invasion. I choose to be a hollyhock, big and adaptable and colorful and slightly goofy-looking. I'd like to thrive and be loved anywhere, gently without crowding anyone, and make a few seeds of brightness that the future can take or leave.

And Diana takes the point to a longing: "I wish life was as elegant as our ideals. But it always gets so complicated".

Of relating to the sadnesses of others

This month Sonia asked a question that must arise for anyone who deliberately opens his/her mind to the pain of others. She asked:

How do you deal with the pain of knowing how others are suffering? The more that I try to do for peace and make an effort to help others the more intense the pain seems to get. I become aware. By pain I mean like an emotional sadness. A sense of helplessness.

Joy found her answer in the Buddhist practice of Tonglen quoting from Pema Chodron's book:

"The essence of tonglen practice is that on the in-breath you are willing to feel pain; you're willing to acknowledge the suffering of the world. The essence of the out-breath is the other part of the human condition. With every out-breath, you open. You connect with the feeling of joy, well-being, satisfaction, tender heartedness, anything that feels fresh and clean, wholesome and good. That's the aspect of the human condition that we wish were the whole show.... You connect with that and you breathe it out so that it can be experienced by everyone."

Olivia (just spinning in) has her own methods that are remarkably similar. She wrote:

How do I deal with the feelings? I just let them wash through me, go and blow my nose if I must, and if it's something that makes me feel angry and helpless I send up a prayer, often in the form of light enveloping the victim, if it's related to pain, or death.

Rita has gentle methods too for dealing with our awareness of pain:

I allow whatever I feel to move through me, whether it is pain, sorrow, joy or happiness. It is rather simple in a way if I don't get my head in the way labelling it or doing something with it.

Kotaro sent a "small opinion" making the difference between understanding and "feeling" the pain of others:

To understand the pains of others is completely different from to "feel" them or at least to try feeling them. So in this meaning, our imagination and creative efforts will be needed at first.

Of dancing and action

And finally, one last rhizome. Some of those on the Bridge have been involved in peace activities this month:

Sonia organized An EarthDance International Festival, held on Saturday, September 16 http://www.worlddreamspeacebridge.org/peacemonthevents.htm.
Some of the proceeds are to be donated to the World Dreams Peace Bridge project: Aid for Traumatized Children http://www.worlddreamspeacebridge.org/aidforchildren.htm.
Jean and Stephen were there, adding to the fund raising by distributing soft toys (a gift from Mary) to children for a small donation.

Jean and others are working on the Tidewater Peace Alliance Celebration of UN International Day of Peace on September 21st. http://www.worlddreamspeacebridge.org/peacemonthevents.htm

The World Dreams Peace Bridge is a group that uses personal dreams for public world peace. You can find out more about the WDPB at: http://www.worlddreamspeacebridge.org