Another blog entry to share my writing, this is something I have been doing as a practice like making my hot sauce. This is a piece that I wrote after I finished working at a child abuse assessment home. It was my way of turning the poison into something beautiful. Sarah’s Dream is a retelling of the old testament story of Sarah and Abraham. I hope you all enjoy it.
by Jesse Govinda Thompson
Sarah shuddered, her raven black hair matted and tangled. She tried to remember where she was, it had all been so vivid. Thousands of years had opened in front of her, lives of women from her lineage, like a river falling from her loins, calling out to her asking her to see. She shook her head, what was it she had been shown.
As she rubbed her eyes the plight of her children returned to her and shook her deeply. The sheer magnitude of suffering her daughters and their children endured in the dream rattled her soul. Oceans of blood and tears, wound after wound. The pain and sorrow of her children was unending. It was a great soup of bones, blood and death. Why had she been shown this? What could it possibly mean? Woman raped and treated as the property of men. Children enslaved and unprotected from every manner of horror. It was the woman’s role to protect. How could things possibly go so wrong? What could bring about this…?
Wait, she mused to her self, it was just a nightmare, only a dream from the night before. Even as her musing began she knew in her cells that this experience was more then a dream it was something like a vision. Sarah had heard from the old crone who lived and practiced her esoteric secrets in the cave above her husband’s property that dreams can be teachings, guides not to be ignored.
“I will pray”, she mumbled to herself rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “If it is a vision of guidance then the lord will surely come and help me understand its meaning.”
Sarah went to the shrine which held her husbands relics of the lord and the stones and many objects he had collected over the years from each of his experiences with the being whom he referred to as the Lord Almighty. She always thought that his passion for this lord and zeal for the respect he deserved was more then any one god deserved but he had come from the east and spirituality was done differently in the land he had journeyed from.
She smiled as she remembered their first meeting. She had known the moment she had seen him that he was different. It was his eyes, they looked into her as if he could see her very soul and as she looked into them the first time she saw oceans of light. In that moment she knew that this dusty traveler with his haggard beard and dirty wind worn face would be a part of her life for many years to come. She fell in love with his deep eyes and she knew that like seeing a jewel in a pile of dust there was much more to this man and she would one day love each and every part of him.
The shrine she sat before which reminded her so of the man she loved had many small rocks arranged beautifully into a circle. Inside this circle was the symbol the lord had shown him so many years before that spelled out the lord’s name. Knowing this name was what made it possible for her husband Abram to have the direct conversations with his Lord Almighty and to share the lord’s wisdom with his followers. Above the circle on the wall was a drawing her husband had painted of what he had seen the first time the Lord had come to speak with him, white light shining out in all directions from what looked like a sphere or globe in the center. It was beautiful in its simplicity. Not just the picture but the entire shrine was beautiful and reminded her of light she had seen in her husbands eyes that first day.
Sarah sat in front of the shrine for a long time not quite sure how to begin. She had seen the man she loved do this many times but as far as she was concerned it was just something that he did and there was no real reason for her to follow his example. The deal was simple she would take care of the worldly affairs so that he could take care of the affairs of spirit. But now here she was. The dream was probably the only thing that would have brought her to this place. She had to know the meaning of that dream and she had to know if it was something more then a nightmare. Because if it was then she knew in her gut that she would have to do something to make sure what she had seen would never come to pass.
Nothing came to her; the Lord did not seem to appear for her just because she sat at the shrine. She knew it was sacrilege for her to be doing what she was doing, yet something in her also knew it was right in a way that was beyond this Lord’s rules. But because of these rules it meant that asking her husband for help was out of the question. He was ruled by laws and covenants, so to break one in this way was innately against his nature. She had to find another way. The only person she could think of that might offer her help was the woman in the cave. This thought scared her because no one except for her husband talked to the crazy homeless woman who lived in the mountain.
For some reason Sarah mused her husband seemed to respect this crazy woman. But she could not imagine why that might be. The crone was wild eyed and unpredictable. It seemed preposterous to even think about it, but as far as Sarah could tell there was no other way.
Realizing that this visit was truly her only course of action, Sarah decided that she would not wait. She must go. Get it over with, and hope that the woman would send her away with the knowledge that this nightmare was only a silly little dream.
Sarah had learned enough from watching her husband to know that if she wanted this woman to help her she would have to bring her a gift of some kind for her services. Sarah looked around her house to see if anything that belonged to her jumped out as an appropriate offering. As she looked around her bed room she saw a small Egyptian box covered in opal and obsidian. The stones were cut and laid into the box so that the black and white smooth stones formed the shape of a spider whose legs were reaching around the lid and holding the box shut.
It was an amazing illusion and the craftsman must have been proud of his work she mused as she picked up the box to take a closer look. As she did so, Sarah realized that her gut had shared the information she needed. This was the gift she would offer to the crone in the hill.
Now that she had a gift there was no reason to dally. Sarah washed and dressed herself and embarked on the journey to the old woman’s cave. For a moment she thought about telling her servant Hagar, but then she thought better of it. The servant woman would only tell her husband and bring trouble for her. Ever since Sarah had begun the conversation with her husband about him taking Hagar, so that she might bring him the child Sarah could not, she had found the presence of her servant more and more distasteful. She made her way up the rocky mountain side and to the entrance of a cave without a word to anyone in the encampment.
Her breath was taken away as she walked, her way up the side of the mountain. Sarah found herself standing on a granite ledge and a two hundred foot drop into space. Only fifty feet away across the chasm was another ledge and in between was a rope bridge. Chills went through Sarah as she realized she must cross this bridge.
The rope was old and sun worn as it stretched out in front of her she was not sure it could even hold her weight. Sarah thought about turning back. It did not seem worth it to her to risk her life for a dream even if it had been vivid. What if it had been a vision through? What if it was something that would come to pass? It was just too awful to ignore. Before giving it another thought or letting further doubt in, Sarah stepped onto the bridge. Ropes gave and boards creaked as she made her way to the other side but the bridge held true. She now stood on a small rock ledge with a cliff above her and a cliff below. The entrance, at least she assumed it was the entrance, as there was no other, was a small jagged opening in the side of the mountain. It looked as though the rock face had been cut with a knife just tall enough and wide enough for a person to squeeze though if they passed through the entrance standing sideways.
Now that Sarah was at the entrance of the cave she didn’t know what to do. Did she really want to call out to this crazy woman? It could mean opening a can of worms that she might not be ready to handle. The images of woman and children being tortured flashed in front of her eyes and she called out with out another thought, “Hello, is anyone in there? Ah, are you home?”
“Who is yelling outside my cave?” an ancient voice crackled like burning paper.
“My name is Sarah, I have come to ask you if you can help me to understand a dream I have had.”
“A dream you say, what kind of dream?”
“I have had a dream, it was so real, so life like, it was more like a vision,” answered Sarah.
“Eh, what’s that you say, vision. Do I truly hear a woman at the door of my cave telling me that she has had a vision?”
The old woman’s voice had been so filled with such loathing as she spoke these words that Sarah was not sure she wanted to answer. She thought about leaving the cave and the angry woman behind her. But as she turned to leave the spider box fell from her bag and hit her hard in the foot. It brought back in a flash of intensity the horror of a blond woman tied to a bed being cut as two men forced her to horrible and humiliating acts of pleasure as each man in turn looked on with an evil smile and the glint of pleasure in their eyes. The images and the many others of the dream made her skin crawl as though poisonous insects crawled all over her body and could not let go and walk away. She could not turn her back on so much suffering. Sarah took a deep breath pushed through the fear in her clenched stomach and answered the old crackling voice which had echoed out from the cave. “Yes, it seems like it is some kind of a vision. Ah, it may only….
A boney arm and long skinny fingers, the skin white and stretched thin over the skeleton came out from the cave followed by a skull covered in wild long grey hair that stood out in every direction. From the skull steel grey eyes looked directly into Sarah’s own, “If you have had a vision then you are the woman I have been waiting for, won’t you please come in.” The old raspy voice crackled like a fire popping when the wood is to full of sap. With these words, the woman disappeared hand and all back into the slit in the stone wall that was the entrance to her home.
“Waiting for,” Sarah mumbled to herself a little taken aback, “How could she have been waiting for me?” This thought brought more fear then the old woman’s anger from just moments before. It also brought to Sarah, as it would to any strong hearted woman, a sense of curiosity. She wanted to find out how this old woman had known she was coming and so she let go of her fear and entered the cave without the faintest notion of what to expect. With a leap of faith Sarah gave her trust as a further offering that the mystery that was about to play out before her would be worthwhile.
Sarah stepped through the tight opening and let her eyes adjust to the darkness. As her eyes were able to take in her surroundings she saw a cave unlike any she had ever seen before. It was more like a home then a cave. The rock walls were smooth as though they had been sanded and as far as Sarah could tell there was one big room and two small rooms that were connected. The floors were all covered with beautiful rugs one overlapping another. In the back of the main room was a bed carved into the stone and covered in furs and blankets. Sarah could only partially see the two small rooms but one looked as though it contained a cooking fire and racks for drying herbs and meat. She could see to her amazement what looked to be a chimney above the fire place through which the smoke could make its way out of the cave. The other room looked as though it was a place of worship for the old woman. There were cushions and a shrine space that had been placed into an elegant simply carved niche in the wall. The walls of the shrine space were pained with fantastic images of what looked to be strange female deities with teeth bared and very little clothing on their bodies. The old woman beckoned for Sarah to come over to her and take a seat next to her on a fire orange cushion on the floor.
As Sarah sat the woman the lit candles and incense on a small alter that was set up on raw wooden table next to them in the middle of the main room. The crone frail and dry as a reed turned her deep electric grey eyes to Sarah, smiled at her and said, “Don’t think about it just tell me your vision. Tell me every detail you can remember. Begin now.”
Stunned, Sarah started speaking. “Ah, I was standing on a white sand beach that looked as though it was laced with diamonds. The Surf was a deep blue tipped with white foam. As I stood there appreciating the view my servant Hagar’s voice spoke as though it called out from the space itself, “Betrayal.” The word resonated into my very cells and before my eyes the scene changed into horror. The water became blood and the stench of rot and death took away the fresh smell of the surf. I watched as men killed each other over and over again thousands of times. Then the real horror began. These barbarians who so brutally killed each other turned their attention on the women of their own tribes. There were thirteen tribes in all and they covered the entire world with their people.”
“The thirteenth tribe was so hurt, so angry it was as though their wounds could not be healed and they killed and fought the other tribes when they turned their attention on the woman they took away all freedoms. Rape and brutal beatings became the norm. The twelve tribes worshipped their mothers but something was missing. Women were seen as servants. The barbarians took them all for granted as though they were property.”
“The worst is yet to come.” Sarah took a deep breath her hands began to shake as she remembered this part of her dream. It turned her stomach and beads of sweat broke out on her forehead as she tried to continue recounting the dream. The nameless crone spoke in a gentle nurturing voice.
“Go on I am ready to hear it.”
“The dream then showed me what happened to the children when the women of the tribes were not allowed to protect them. Children beaten, raped horribly, treated as cogs in machines to make these men rich. Chained to machines themselves forced to work until they died only to be replaced by another child. Children sold into prostitution, asked to pick up guns and fight wars. Children killing children,” Sarah sobbed hard as she spoke these words. Tears ran down her face as she began to wail and tear at her hair. The sobbing became deep retching cries.
“What could this mean…? Why, why…?” Before the crone could speak Sarah cleared the hair from her eyes and said, “There is more. Hagar said one more thing at the end of all of this terror. Her voice said ‘you did this, because of you this will all come to be. You evil whore.’ She called me an evil whore, why? Why did I have to see this? Why, please tell me what it all means. I must know.
“If there is any way I can stop this I must know how, I will do anything if this is really a vision to make sure these horrors never come to pass.” Sarah was now ranting faster and faster as though she could not stop talking but had to get all of the horrible vision she had seen out of her being. As if it were a poison that she must vomit up or die.”
“Child,” the crone interrupted, “Take a breath, here wipe your face and have some tea. Calm your nerves my dear the hardest part is behind you now.”
Sarah sobbed, tears streaming down her eyes and snot running from her nose, her body shook as she took a white linen cloth from the old woman’s hand and began to wipe her face.
“Don’t try to talk any more my dear, just breath. You are safe here with me now. The dream you describe is truly full of hate and cruelty. It took great courage for you to share it with me. Now settle and I will bring you a cup of tea as I promised.”
The old woman rose from her cushion and went into the back room were the cooking fire burned cheerfully and began the process of heating tea water in a copper bowl. “Sarah, your husband has been kind to me over the years.” The crone called out from the kitchen. “He has given me many offerings in return for teachings and spiritual conversations.
“But, in truth many have been kind to me over the years. Many people have come from the east to study the wisdom that I have been fortunate enough to have attained. All these things you see in my house are offerings. Things people have given in return for the precious teachings I have shared with them.
“You see I am not just a crazy homeless woman. That is the illusion I present to the world, so that it will leave me alone. And now you have come with your dream. It is a dream I have waited many years to hear. Do you also come with an offering of your own?”
The old woman’s words seemed to have a magical effect on Sarah. As she spoke Sarah found that she was no longing living within the images of her dream but found herself back in the cave with two new questions burning in her being. Before she could catch herself her first question was out of her mouth. “Old crone,” she began, “What is your name?”
The old woman smiled and said, “I thought you would never ask. My name is Tara. I of course know your name Sarah, so it is very nice to formally meet you. But, you did not answer my question.”
“Oh, ah yes,” Sarah found herself a little taken aback by Tara’s directness. “I have brought a gift, yes.” She fumbled to find her bag and to take the spider box out so that she could formally present it to the old woman who was now getting up and walking into her kitchen area to prepare tea. Sarah took the box from her bag and waited patiently for Tara to return to her seat.
As Tara made her way back to her seat with two steaming raw clay cups in her hands Sarah found herself nervous and having a hard time waiting for the right time to present her gift. The old woman sat with an ease that made it impossible to tell her age. Sarah took one of the cups from Tara and set it on the table beside her. “I brought you a gift, here this box is for you.”
Tara took the box from her and looked it over. “A very nice piece, is there anything inside?”
Sarah didn’t know what to say. She hadn’t looked in the box. She had just grabbed it and put it in her bag, but before she could respond the old woman had opened the box and was smiling at its contents. Inside the box was an exquisite hand crafted golden serpent with ruby eyes and ivory teeth. Six inches long and ready to strike as Tara took it from the box it was as though she was holding a living being in her hand. Tara nodded in appreciation and after a few moments of looking over both the box and the snake she smiled and said, “Sarah your gift is perfect, your request for teachings will be granted but first I have a question for you about your dream. The woman, your servant, when you described her voice she sounded so angry and full of self righteous pride, why, what made her so angry so you think?”
“I don’t know it was in the dream, only a voice in the dream.”
“Think Sarah, remember the moment her voice resounded within you, what was the feeling in your cells, what did her voice remind you of?”
Sarah sat on the fur covered cushion in the dark cave and thought; she contemplated the old woman’s words. Slowly as if a curtain parted on a black stage she began to glimpse something and then as more time passed it was as though the lights came up, as though the light of god himself shined down on the little stage, she understood.
The feeling that she had when these words were spoken was that of humiliation as each woman in her tribe looked down on her for her inability to bear her husband a child. She was old and could no longer give her husband progeny. Each time a woman looked at her she felt the barb of this inability. She felt the fire of humiliation burn as her purpose as a woman could not be fulfilled. For what good was she to her husband if she could not give him a child to pass his lineage on to.
Abram always said that his lord had told him that she would be able to meet this need, but lately she was starting to loose faith in the word of this lord and had concocted a plan. All of a sudden it struck her as though an avalanche of stone had fallen from her throat to her stomach. Her plan to have Hagar take her place, to bear a child in her stead, was the very thing that would make this dream of hers into a reality. She was not the whore no even worse she was making her favorite servant into the whore in her stead.
As these thoughts came together she looked up and saw the skeletal face of the old woman smiling and nodding her eyes full of glee.
“Yes my dear you understand don’t you? You know what this dream is, but dear that is only the beginning. How will you make sure that it never comes to pass?”
“I don’t know how, what can I do?”
“‘I don’t know?’ You talk like you have no power. You are a woman and the consort of a prophet; take some responsibility my raven haired beauty.”
“But, he so wants a child how can I let that go, how can I disappoint him by letting him know it will never be?” Sarah said, still unable to let go of her desire to meet her duty as a woman.
“First you must understand that you are not weak or small Sarah. You are acting as though you were a naïve, simple school girl and yet you sit before me a grown woman. How could you come to me as such an immature silly prattling woman? I am disgusted hearing you talk. Do you truly not understand what it means to be a woman?” The crone’s demeanor had changed the instant she had heard Sarah’s last comment. She had become a scolding mother ready to spank her child for some awful deed.
Shocked, Sarah shook her head as though trying to shake away this little woman’s words and her wrath. When she could not she finally spoke, “It is the duty of a woman of the tribes to bear children so that our people may flourish and prosper.” She spoke as if to say how dare you speak to me in that tone of voice.
“Duty,” the old woman’s voice crooned with delight again, “Duty you speak of now. I know how we need to precede you and I. You come and talk with me when your husband is away or in retreat and we will speak of this duty. I will share with you the teachings I have been given and found on my own and then you will decide for yourself what it is for a woman to do her duty. If you agree to this there is one condition, meet it and I will offer you all I know freely. Don’t and we are done forever.”
“If I were to agree to this strange idea what would that condition be pray tell.” Sarah said sarcasm a little hesitant now.
“You must let go of your need to have this child any other way but by your own body. This is very important can you agree to this?”
Sarah moved on her seat in discomfort and the hermit woman spoke again, “if you decide that my teachings are in some way lacking, then you may do what ever you wish. But it seems to me before you go about trying to have a child, you should learn what it really means to be a woman.”
“And you can teach me this?” Sarah asked curiosity rising within her.
The old woman nodded her head in assent. “If you are willing to agree to this one condition I certainly can.”
Sarah’s husband had told her on more then one occasion that this woman held great wisdom and now she was willing to give those teachings to her. She knew that some how her dream had lead her to this moment and even though she felt the pressure to give her husband a child, she knew that he would understand the delay if she was studying with the “cave woman” as he called her.
“I will agree to this condition for the dream is something that must never become a reality. How now shall we proceed?”
Leave now and come back to me the next time you husband leaves. Lie with him when the desire is there for either of you and trust his lord, for I too have met him and he has both great power and deep insight. This lord knows when the time is right for you to conceive, until then come and study with me and let go of the poison you have been carrying in your being about not being able to have a child.”
“Then I will leave and see you again soon”, Sarah said. She then got up, brushed off her clothes and left the cave through the small slit of an entry way and made her way back to her encampment. As she went down the mountain side something inside her uncoiled. It was as though a great weight had been lifted in the short time she had spent with the old crone.
Sarah’s stomach which had been tied in knots of anxiety from her dream, now felt relaxed, at ease, almost giddy from her visit. She could feel a huge dark shadow leave her and the light of love that she had not known in many years make its way back into her being. Sarah knew deep down that something had changed. She was not sure what that something was but in her cells she understood that it was a change that had taken her from one path and put her on another.
If Abram every asked what it was that had happened to her while he had been away she was quite sure she would not be able to tell him. In her heart she felt it was secret like the experiences he had with his lord. The experiences he never chose not to share with her. But, more then that Sarah didn’t think that she could put the mornings experience into words.
As she came into the encampment settled into the green of the valley, round tents sprinkled around the gurgling stream. It was the stream which ran through the desert that made the oasis in which she and her husband had chosen to settle. As Sarah made her way down into the valley she saw her servant Hagar drawing water from the crystal stream under an old willow tree. As Sarah approached, the beautiful red headed woman rose from her knees and bowed down to her owner. Sarah gave her the gesture to raise her head and as she did so Hagar spoke in a deep and sultry voice.
“Sarah, where have you been, I was so worried. I came into your tent this morning and you were gone. Your husband’s men have been out looking for you all day.”
Sarah had not thought she would be missed. In fact she did not think at all. The dream had been so vivid and the intensity of it all had been so distracting she had left without letting anyone know were she was going. She had left without a thought of what her absence might do to her community.
She was about to apologize for the trouble she had caused when she realized that her meeting with the crone was far more important. She also realized that the time she spent with the old woman on the hill was not something she wanted to share with everyone in her tribe. She knew right on the spot that if she told Hagar it would be public knowledge by nightfall.
Sarah made a decision right then and there that the only person she would talk to about these meetings was her husband and even then she was not sure about how much of went on in the cave would be shared with him. In that moment she lied. “Sarah smiled at the young Egyptian slave girl whom she had saved in a moment of kindness from a life of prostitution by outbidding the town madam, and said.
“I felt like a walk this morning.”
“A walk?” Hagar said her voice filled with a little more concern then she had meant to express to her mistress, “You left without telling anyone to take a walk?”
“Yes,” said Sarah her voice hardening to her servant’s insolent tone, “I am a grown woman.” As she spoke Sarah remembered Tara’s disgust at her childish behavior in the cave and with that memory found a new strength. She felt in that moment it was time to take her power, her seat as the consort of a profit. “I know that you and the tribe were concerned for me and I feel blessed to have such love around me but I am protected like my husband by the lord almighty and feel quite confident that I can take a walk now and again on my own if that is my desire. And know that I am thinking about it, I will be taking many more walks in the future. The time to myself brings me joy. I want it known right now that I will not be questioned about were I am going or why I am walking on my own. Is that understood?”
Hagar bowed her head, deeper this time then the last in a gesture of acknowledgement and responded in a humbled voice, “Yes my lady.”
“Good, please bring my mid day meal to my tent and then you can have the afternoon to do with as you will.”
‘Very good my lady,” said Hagar, Taking her bucket of water and running back to the central kitchen of the encampment.
Sarah smiled to herself as she watched her servant scurry away. The warmth and joy of her meeting and the taking up the reigns of her own fate by choosing to have more such meetings, to keep those meetings secret all felt very right. She knew that the pretty red headed Egyptian woman would not be having a baby for her as had been her plan. This knowledge somehow made her feel even better then she had just a few moments before. Which, she thought would have been impossible except that it had happened. Sarah would have her own babies. She would learn from the old woman. Empowered by this knew knowledge she made her way to her tent to break her fast with peace in her heart.