DREAM - Butterflies
John left me with several small brown objects. They looked like nuts or seeds. I thought that one seemed to be a spider, so I carefully picked it up off of my bathroom sink and flushed it. Then, the house was filled with butterflies, and I knew that the objects were (sort of) cocoons.
The butterflies were all over me. They were very similar to the paper cutouts I had been making in shapes of flowers. Each was unique, like a drawing of an individual butterfly. I knew that they had only short lifetimes and that it was not necessary to take them outside, but I walked out of my back door and threw my arms up to let some fly into the sky. There was a great abundance of beauty and delicacy and flight.
AND SUDDENLY - Leaving LSU
Every coffee and smoothie and sandwich stamp card that I carried punched full the next to last week I was in Baton Rouge. My time there had been a gift, and after three years, I felt right leaving.
I had chosen LSU in early spring when the landscape was in full, lush bloom. Foliage and flowers nearly swallowed houses and school buildings. Live oak trees stretched up and out and over and bent and touched the ground and reached again. This was before I made the landscape the focus of my work, but in a way, I chose the school for its landscape. At the time, I was studying Isaiah and pondering natural world symbolism: well-watered gardens, oaks of righteousness, plantings of the Lord, cedars of Lebanon, trees rooted by rivers…
Three years later, as I was leaving my Tiger Stadium studio for the last time – standing in its doorway looking at the empty space and smelling the way it smelled in May, I heard, felt a powerful crash. An oak tree next to the stadium entrance had fallen. It looked completely healthy. The wind was gentle. Its roots stayed in the ground.
From Baton Rouge, I went with my family to the beach and resumed reading from Genesis to Revelation in Daniel with his interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream – about a tree that fell but left its roots in the ground.
DREAM - Annabelle the Seahorse
I was in an airport waiting at the Southwest gate. It was sort of like being inside an aquarium, but the sea animals were swimming in the air among the passengers. They could go in and out of something like a birdcage.
A seahorse came up to me and tried to perch on my arm. She was brown and white like one of the prickly seashells in my collection. Her skin was rough like coral and poked my arm. I backed away at first then caught myself and let her perch there – sort of like a bird. I supported her with my other hand, and we walked laps around the gate area talking. She had to keep moving.
She told me her name was Annabelle. She spoke three languages – seahorse, English, and another European language. She explained that languages are connected, that seahorse had parts of the human languages in it.
I asked big questions, and she answered them. I was amazed and woke up with an affirmed understanding that animals and plants and the whole creation walk with God in innocence and praise. Annabelle showed me that it is different for humans – more difficult but that the design is good and that there is much to be gained. Waking, I saw a new aspect of the significance and power in Christ’s innocence as man.
DREAM - Triplets
I was a waitress – but not exactly. I was aware of a lot of people and their needs – and was responsible for assessing and meeting their needs. I started to prioritize – by urgency, by importance, and (rather curiously) by age… Should I help the older people first?
Immediately, God showed me that He could help everyone – even the little children – at the same time. He knew each person and every need. His resources were ready to provide. He helped everyone simultaneously.
The next month, when my father told me about my cousin’s triplets, this dream became specifically relevant. Years earlier, Kim and Jody thought they couldn’t have children. They adopted their daughter, Charlotte. A few years later, they had their biological son, Max, by a surrogate, Kathy. When Max was seven years old, the fertility clinic gave them a choice – put the remaining two embryos up for adoption, destroy them, or try for more children. Kathy agreed to be surrogate again. The two embryos were implanted, and one split so that Kathy was now carrying triplets – a girl, Mae, and identical twin boys, Flynn and Jude. My father’s news was exciting, but he was also asking me to pray. The doctors were concerned that Mae, Flynn, Jude, and Kathy would all survive the pregnancy. I remember where I was standing when I remembered the dream and responded – I think they will!
DREAM - While Reading Gombrich’s Art & Illusion
My friend was in treatment for breast cancer, and her daughter and I were looking at images from her diagnostic scans. I was holding a pretty large – 20” x 30” ish – image that looked like a black and white photo. It was an extremely microscopic view – of the tiniest components that make up our cells and DNA and chromosomes. I was surprised and thrilled to see structures that looked like text, symbols, and vessels! They were neatly organized – as on shelves. They were wide-ranging containers, and I saw that God and men could fill them with a great variety of substances. There could be more or less of these container structures, too. I understood that this implied a sort of wealth or poverty very different than exterior wealth and poverty. We are each equipped distinctly. Holy, powerful, eternal things fit these vessels. They were suited to classify, organize, file, and contextualize daily, experiential knowledge – spiritual substances, ideas, and even physical materials like food, water, and air – everything. Each part was important and complementary. The whole system of resources was alive, moving – with adding and spending and connecting and redefining.
Some container structures and substances were shared through generations. Others were exchanged or duplicated in conversations or in works of art. Each intricate, internal system was designed to fit precisely into the whole of earth and heaven.
DREAM - White Whales
Little boats that were a lot like paddle boards took us there. I was with a guide. The boats were sort of taco shaped and glided across the water in a way that made me feel connected to the currents. At one point I "surfed" behind (got into the water and held onto the boat letting it pull me with it).
Then, we were walking along a path through thick vegetation. Mama was with me. We met a girl who had a dog as big as a horse. Then we saw the first of many gorillas! I was not sure what the dog would do. Mama fed them carrots / sweet potatoes - which they started tossing around. I wasn't thinking that feeding them was a good idea. But overall, I felt safe and like I had seen something wild and special.
The path abruptly came to the shore. Little taco boats were waiting, and before I knew it I was on one alone. I must have been just ahead of Mama. The boat skipped out into the water. Our group was loosely together.
Then I noticed HUGE white whales just under the water's surface. I accidentally slid right over a battered fin, and the whale, in slow motion, moved to thrash his heart-shaped tail my way. There was time to move, but it was pretty spectacular. I still felt safe.
DREAM - Living in Excellent Art and Natural Beauty
After a flight to New York with a group of people I knew, we visited a house museum in a new-to-me part of the city – on the outskirts. The front looked like a large brownstone – vertical and striking. It felt part residential, part institutional, and as much like London as New York. The inside was filled with treasures – from nature and the arts. We exited through the backdoor – right into a neighborhood of carports and lush garden foliage and water! I loved the backdoor feel – the green space, the openness, the smaller scale of buildings, and lower density of traffic. This felt like a wonderful place to live.
At one point, we were in the water with small boats and rafts and friendly whales! I looked back and saw the place was named for Mary Delany’s naturalist acquaintance – Sir Hans Sloane. And, I realized I had been someplace like this before – had dreamed or anticipated it repeatedly.
After pondering – specifically pondering the apparent contradiction between wanting in the dream to live in a place like this and the extremely exclusive privilege implied – I realized that what essentially appeals to me is a WAY OF LIVING – with doors open to natural and cultural beauties, ideas, LIFE.
DREAM - Wonderful Book
Marsha Mabry gave me a book. We were all sitting at long tables – some sort of holiday celebration. Kate was talking about marrying Brad – making plans, pondering beautiful places.
As soon as I opened the book, I knew it was for me – wanted to make it myself. The pages were translucent and bound so that they turned vertically. The natural world imagery – plants, animals, gardens, woods – progressed in a unique way. Each image built on elements from the previous page that showed through the translucent paper – representing delightful movement through spaces, times, seasons.
When I remembered the dream, I was delighted to realize that I COULD make the book myself. Maybe it will have something to do with marriage. The structure of the passages relates to Erin Harmon’s new work and her recent talk at the University of Memphis.