Bishop in a Wheelchair

I had an unusual dream last night that’s worth reporting.

I was on vacation with my wife in a beautiful hotel. I stepped out of the hotel and found myself in a cavernous and very swanky mall. One store was devoted to housewares from Israel that were made of pure gold with red enamel. A Victoria’s Secret sort of place occupied a kiosk. Everything was very worldly. “What a good idea to attach a hotel to a mall,” I thought. “A traveler can have everything he wants.”

However, I was surprised to find that the stores didn’t interest me. The escalators, on the other hand, were a marvel. They were as much challenge and game as mode of transport.

One of them was not only an escalator, but a waterfall with glow-in-the-dark paint mixed in for good measure. You had to hop from moving step to moving step without getting wet.

I was standing at its base when a giggling boy tumbled down it, unhurt but drenched in water and paint. Grinning through the goo, he told me about a place in the mall where they had mock battles, and you could fight a king. He was having the time of his life.

So up the escalator I went. It was a “down” escalator, but no matter. A few nimble steps over the flow and I had reached the second floor.

I soon found the arena of which he had spoken. From the walkway, I looked down on a mock combat that was taking place below. Everyone was dressed in medieval costume and the atmosphere was festive. A jewel-encrusted sword was at my feet. No sooner had I picked it up than a family with a young boy arrived. He was thrilled when I gave him the sword. I went on my way, back toward the escalator, where the dream took a sudden turn.

The escalator was now the normal kind (no more fun and games) and wide enough to accommodate three men abreast. I heard a man proclaim loudly and officiously, “Make way! A bishop is ascending the escalator!”

The Catholic prelate soon came into view. He was in a wheelchair, dressed in black robe and red headdress, and flanked by two men. A further retinue followed. One of the two attendants was the minor church official who had made the announcement; the other was an executive who worked for the the mall. The latter was obsequiously confessing his sins to the bishop.

“Father, I have sinned. I have been been angry. I confess that I have even been angry within the last three minutes.”  I understood the source of his recent irritation to be people he had had to deal with while coordinating the bishop’s unimpeded and honored progress through the mall.

As soon as the bishop and his retinue had disembarked, a great crowd surged up the escalator; they had been barred from it for the duration of the bishop’s ascent.

I was incensed that these ordinary people had been made to wait. How dare the bishop take precedence when his only claim to superiority was to be highly placed in a church that had tortured and burned so-called heretics not all that long ago!? How dare he assert privilege when his priests have abused innocent children up to the present day!? And why does the mall executive bow and scrape before this man!?

I thought, “Should I register my disgust by striding right across the bishop’s procession, or should I keep my peace?”

As I dithered, the dream ended.

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4 responses to “Bishop in a Wheelchair

  1. Here’s my interpretation of your dream:

    It’s your own struggle between your past and your present; the sacred and the secular, the heavenly and the worldly. Central to the struggle is your efforts to make peace with your own childhood, your childhood family, your present family.

    The dream opens with an image of your devotion to your wife, with the two of you in a beautiful hotel, symbolizing your marriage and all the beauty it has produced (your recent musings/readings about sexual reproduction are no accident). The image of your relationship is strengthened by the Victoria’s Secret kiosk.  Then you emerge into the beautiful worldliness of the mall, setting the stage for you to play out the struggle between worldliness and the spiritual plane.  

    The boy represents you as a child. The escalator with its waterfall and glow in the dark paint represents many things. The water is symbolic of baptism. Te paint is secular enlightenment. The flow is like a river, which symbolizes one’s path in life, as well as the path to underworld (the river Styx).  The boy’s giggling after being baptized by glow in the dark paint-infused water represents your own dual baptism. The water itself is the  medium of traditional baptism into the church,  and the paint is the medium of  baptism into enlightenment (pun intended, courtesy of your dream) apart from the  church. Having to hop between the moving steps is your own struggle to negotiate your way between the two. 

    The boy’s (your own) fight with the king is further symbolism of your fight with God. Your ascent up the down escalator is your transcendence of the Hell construct.

    Your giving the boy with the family the sword was you giving yourself power in the context of your own family, both your childhood family and your adult family (again, this boy was you).

    The last part of your dream featured the number three in two notably equal-but-opposite  ways.  The bishop with two attendants is the holy trinity, and the confession of anger in the past three minutes is your Newtonian reaction to the force of that doctrine.

    The surging crowd that had been held back by the bishop is your new world encouraging you. The dream ends with your commitment to find peace in all of this.

    • Wow, Tom!! I had a few ideas about the dream, but you’ve hit on many more that feel right on-target to me. I had almost omitted many details because I thought they were insignificant (e.g., the episode with the sword), but you found meaning in them all. Also, I was afraid the post was getting too long and boring as it was.

      One thing I did leave out was that the boy had a sister. I didn’t mention her because she didn’t say anything, but was just standing near the bottom of the escalator. Any thoughts about her?

  2. She’s right here, bearing witness, as you progress on your journey. :)

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