This morning I awoke from a dream, and I will share it.
I dreamed that my Mother was going to bury me in the small Southern Baptist cemetery at Slate Springs, Mississippi – the church that kicked me out because I wouldn’t quit dancing. I was alive, and others who were going to be buried were also alive. As the good lay minister I am, I was running around trying to help get things ready for the burials.
Mother was waiting with the families of the others who were to be buried.
I suddenly realized that I had always said I wanted to be cremated when I died and that I specifically did not want to be taken back to Mississippi and buried in that cemetery. I had given my designated plot for my sister-in-law’s body some years ago.
When I realized this, I ran from the front of the church a long way around the cemetery and a great field where the others who were to be buried were playing softball to the back of the church and panted into the waiting room where I found my Mother.
I said to her: I know you will have the last word when I am dead, but I told you two things. I want to be cremated when I die, and I told you that I never wanted to be buried here in this forsaken little place.
Then I woke up.
The first symbolism I realized is that my Mother had always stifled me and tried to keep my eccentricities buried – unsuccessfully. I don’t know how I was supposed to get from being very much alive (I ran such a long distance.) to dead enough to be buried. I remember wondering that no caskets for the dead were visible though I saw a contraption that lowered the body into the ground. It was wooden – a very beautiful thing that looked like an oversized luggage rack in a hotel room.
The second symbolism is that of baptism. Being buried alive in the living waters and raised to be a new person. That was a scary thought because this time I wasn’t being buried in the living waters but in the ground.
But, I was baptized in that particular church, though I can’t say that the Holy Spirit moved me to that. It was more an apology to the preacher for screaming obscenities at him when our smokehouse caught on fire. He was spraying the house with a tiny water hose to keep it from catching afire also, and he kept hollering “The house is gonna go. The house is gonna go.” My mother was already panicked, and I told him to shut his damn mouth or I’d shut it for him.
My Mother decided after the fire was out, and the house was safe that it was time I was baptized and began attending church more regularly. So, that summer in revival, I went forward and was subsequently baptized. During the process of immersion, the preacher held a cloth over my nose and mouth and leaned me backwards into the water saying the prescribed words. Unfortunately, I slipped and he dropped me. My thought was, “Well, I really am going to die.” Not true. He recovered and grabbed me before I hit the bottom, and it was only three feet deep anyway. But, I was baptized by immersion that evening at that tiny Southern Baptist Church in a village of about 150 people in the middle of nowhere in the Mississippi hills.
Yesterday on a trip to Lowe’s Building Supplies, I had a panic attack, overwhelmed by the thought that I was with my mother on a trip that she blamed on me and that I was wrong and despised because of it. Although I made it through the buying of a new showerhead, I felt as if I were going to explode all afternoon. As evening fell, I began to calm down and realize that, once again, my Mother had taken over my mind/emotions.
Now she’s been dead six years, and I’ve been in therapy much longer than that over our relationship – codependent and toxic. This is the second time in recent months that she’s slipped into my life in scary ways. After the first one, I wrote her a letter asking that she butt out. Apparently she didn’t get the letter or ignored it.
Still, the symbolism of the dream lingers. I’m reading Sue Monk Kidd’s “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” about her journey from patriarchal daughter to ....well, I haven’t gotten far enough to know where she’s going. She has undoubtedly gone through the dying and rebirth.
This morning’s dream was the dying. I remember in 1993 saying to my husband (divorced now for 9 years), if you leave me here with Mother, I will die.
So, is this about my spiritual life or is this just more of Mother’s guck? It’s a powerful dream whatever it means.