Thursday, March 31, 2016

Drive Safely

by Patricia Cates

A particular dream that’s been coming back to haunt me since I was a teenager decided to rear its contorted head three nights ago. I guess that is what is called a recurring nightmare. Sound familiar?
It always starts out where I’m driving along a very windy, very narrow, one-lane road. I’m on the edge of a cliff of sorts, up a few thousand feet, when I veer my car off the road. The vehicle is quite literally going around a curve so fast that the tires escape the traction of the gravel road without me even knowing it, and end up off the edge somehow. I only realize I am off the road, and in the air, when it is too late to correct the error. My car and I start to fall slowly into a giant abyss much like Wile E. Coyote has done countless times on Saturday morning cartoon marathons. On the way down to impending doom, the feeling is always the same---sheer panic. Let’s be honest, there’s a finality when one is falling from the sky and there is absolutely no turning back. Death is seconds away. My mind has no way of deciphering at the time that this is merely a dream, one that I will shortly wake from, alive and well in my comfy bed. So despair and pure fear fill me to the core on the way down. Luckily every time I am about to hit the ground I wake up. Still…this is not a very fun dream.

Southern Colorado cliff
Let me confess that most of my dreams are happy ones involving people I’ve never met. They are often set in exotic locales only my mind can conjure. There is beautiful scenery and most often the ocean is involved. I might have a nightmare once a year, if that. (I am so blessed!) So when I had the “car going off a cliff” dream, which I have not had in years, I was a little rattled.
Perhaps this nightmare recurred because over spring break our family went to Mesa Verde, Colorado, to see the ancient cliff dwellings of the Anasazi. The drive up is breathtakingly beautiful, but absolutely treacherous for the faint of heart. I’m thinking now that this simple mind of mine was merely filtering through all of that experience.
Needless to say I did have the dream, except this time it was slightly different.
This time I’m in the same type of desert, up a 3000 foot high cliff side, but I’m driving a 1970 Chevy Malibu convertible. It has the original turquoise paint and interior and I am thoroughly enjoying myself, unaware of any danger. I look off to view the gorgeous, desert scenery at every chance. The wind is in my hair and the radio on when I am completely oblivious to the fact that my car has left the road. I start veering off into the sky. In slow motion I look back at how far off the road might be, in case I can steer in that direction and get situated back to safety. Nope. I am too far off the road to get back. Looking even further to the far right where the road is/was…a mere 4 yards away…I notice that this time I am not alone. My husband is in the passenger seat…asleep. He has no idea what is about to happen to us. So I say, “Babe, wake up. Um…I’m so sorry. We’re going down.“
This kind, sleepy, man looks at me so calmly and peacefully. Having just realized our fate, he’s completely unaffected.  He grabs hold of my hand and we look down together and watch as our car floats slowly through the air downward. The car seems at first to be in such a state that we might actually be able to land the thing. Almost like an airplane. It feels like we can steer it with our bodies for a minute. Then gravity takes over and the car starts falling faster than our bodies, and I can feel the dash pushing on my legs in descent.  We fall rapidly downward now. Impact is imminent.
The feeling inside of my gut is truly sickening, but nothing compared to the prior times I had faced this same situation in past dreams. Because my husband is there I am somewhat calm. As we are pulled down we close our eyes and pray together briefly, and then look at each other and say/scream “I love you” into the wind. Maybe some other things I cannot recall. But at the precise moment of what would have been impact we awake… a dream within a dream. My hubby turns to me and says, “Whoa, I’m sure glad that was a dream.”
Vista point going up to Mesa Verde
Then I wake up.

So what? Everyone has scary dreams. But upon analyzing this one, the thing that drastically changed and improved this old nightmare’s new-fangled scenario is that I am no longer alone. Yay! I have someone there to hold my hand on the way down, someone to lower my degree of dread. How wonderful that my husband is with me now.

But is that a good thing? Before it was only my life on the line…now I’ve picked up a truly beloved passenger along the way. I sure don’t want to crash and burn, and take my poor innocent husband down with me. He dies because of my faulty maneuvers? He suffers because I’m not paying attention to the road I’ve somehow managed to take us down? That sounds awful. I feel like I just lived it. Looking back that’s the last thing I ever want to happen to him, or anyone, for that matter!
If only the Malibu would have had a parachute.
If only there were a Savior...
The Good News for all of us is that there is!

Upon further introspection I begin to wonder what Christ thinks about the routes we are on. I’m pretty sure He’s always in that passenger seat, whether seen or unseen. How I wish He would just drive. There would be no fall. But that’s apparently not the plan. He watches us veer off the side time and again. Even though I’m certain it is He who jostles us perfectly awake before impact and acts to save us every time, I certainly don’t want to send Him over that ledge…or worse yet…DOWN!
Yes that road we have to travel is often steep and rocky, and perilous, and fast moving with lots of twisting turns. Yes we might get distracted. There will be accidents, unpreventable accidents. We most definitely need to wear our seatbelts and use the maps we have to guide us. But, even If we are excellent drivers we may find ourselves looming downward due to some unforeseen circumstance out of our control. We may go off the side of a cliff without even knowing what's happening. If that happens in real life, remember you are not alone...for there is a strong hand to hold, to calm all fear, in that passenger seat.
Drive safely!

1 comment:

  1. Jesus take the wheel! ;-)

    My recurring nightmare is that I'm in a building that's falling down. I've had it so many times that I've even had dreams in which I was in the building falling down and I realize all the warning signs that it's falling down and I think to myself, "This is it! This is why I've had all those dreams about buildings falling down! To prepare me for this moment when it actually happens!" But of course it's just a dream every time.

    I did escape once, though. I take that as a good sign.

    Your dream ranks high on the scale of life metaphors, that's for sure. Definitely something to ponder.



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