Dreaming the Present

out of wonderWhile trying to process the massacres this past weekend in El Paso and Dayton, I was reminded by a friend, colleague, and Tribal Elder of the importance of prayer in our life’s journey.

I’m keenly aware that in recent years, “thoughts and prayers” have become synonymous with political inaction. Yet for many of us, spiritual grounding can be necessary in order to take effective action in troubled times.

In my case, I do not subscribe to any organized religion. Still, spirituality occupies an important place in my life. Over the years I’ve developed my own rituals and techniques to center my heart and stay connected with my personal truth. These range from acts as simple as a walk through the woods to more in-depth meditation and reflection.

Because of my friend’s words, I undertook to meditate and pray over the tragic events in El Paso and Dayton. After I finished my evening ritual and went to sleep, I had a remarkable dream.

In my dream, after helping a young woman escape some threatening men, I was transported to a large structure or house, somehow suspended in the sky. At first, I wandered through the rooms alone but unafraid. In the moment I realized this “house” was a place to rest and heal from the dangerous world I’d left behind, a person appeared. This person informed me I would soon have to leave the house and return to the dangerous world, to the work I had been doing there. I didn’t argue against this message, but it made me sad.

ReboundMy new “guide” showed me one more room before I left, in a school or kindergarten. I had some connection to the children there. They were my children, or nieces and nephews, or wards – I’m not really sure. Their teacher – engaging, fun, and fully dedicated to his students – was reading the poetry of Kwame Alexander.

I joined the class, and we dove into Alexander’s very special rhythms together. The room filled with joy as we explored the power of words, laughing and giggling and even dancing in circles. The children especially liked one stanza that we chanted like a song:

Boom shaka laka laka Boom shaka laka laka Boom shaka laka laka BOOM!

I woke up from the dream at 5:20am, a middle-aged woman in my Midwestern home – someone who maybe watches basketball once a year if KU is doing well in March – and found myself repeating a basketball meme I couldn’t recall having heard before.

Boom shaka laka laka Boom shaka laka laka Boom shaka laka laka BOOM!

I searched for phrase on line to find out what it means. Here’s what the urban dictionary told me (emphasis mine in all cases):

  • The sound heard when someone makes an awesome slam dunk!
  • An onomatopoeic “in your face” to express a feeling of joy and dominance while at the same time trying to show the world who you are and where you stand in society.
  • To rub your achievements in an opponents or challenger’s face to let others know you are in control and they cannot stop you.

Reflecting on my dream and the context in which I had it, I remembered the revolutionary power of poetry, the way it unites us in joy and defiance.

I was first introduced to this power through the Latin American poets during my years in Central America. That power has been reaffirmed in the United States through voices like Kwame Alexander, who I had the privilege of seeing at the Tucson Book Festival this past spring.

  • To rub your achievements in an opponents or challenger’s face to let others know you are in control and they cannot stop you. 

crossoverI believe this was the message of my dream, what I need to remember when racism and white supremacy try to tear down the beautiful colors of this nation and shred the fabric that makes us whole. Unity against our opponents is important, as is anger and defiance. But so is joy. As we persist, we must celebrate our achievements as a diverse nation and rub that pride in their faces. We must remind them we are in control and they cannot stop us. We must do this until we stamp out the rot and disease of racism once and for all.

I am not sure how to get there, but I hold this goal in my heart, and every day I look and listen for ways, big and small, to help make it happen. 

Experience has taught me the act of searching will invariably reveal the path.   

Boom shaka laka laka Boom shaka laka laka Boom shaka laka laka BOOM!


2 thoughts on “Dreaming the Present

  1. Es muy fácil trabajar la violencia de manera lúdica, pero no borra el hecho de vivir en una sociedad llena de violencia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tienes toda la razón, Lisette. Desde mi punto de vista, hay varias estratégias, y cada una tiene su momento, pero a final hay que dirigirse a la meta mayor, que es enfrentar y ojalá acabar con la violencia social con que lidiamos todos los días. Muchas gracias por comentar; siempre recuerdo nuestras conversaciones y el tiempo tan lindo que pasaba con vos y Aquiles. Que estén muy bien. Abrazos!


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