Rooms, dreams, and other hidden things

by | Jun 12, 2023 | Faith | 2 comments |

Richard Rohr in Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality: “People want their lives and history to be predictable and controllable, and the best way to do that is to try to control and even manipulate the gods.”

One pre-dawn morning, I dreamed about hosting an Open House in our Alexandria townhouse. My husband and I had renovated and sold that home before moving to the mountains. In the dream, I combed through the townhouse, adjusting pictures and lampshades, and hummed to myself. Warm ginger cookies and fresh-brewed coffee masked the odors of Windex and furniture polish.

“Welcome!” I said as visitors arrived. “Shall we start the tour upstairs?” 


New plush carpet muted our steps. “The room at the top is my favorite,” I said, “with space for a futon, bookcases, and a writing desk, a quiet moonlight-blue place to read surrounded by family pictures.” I pivoted at the landing, my hands showcasing door number one like a Price is Right hostess.

The room was empty—no furniture, no books, no pictures. Speechless, I turned to my guests. They, too, had vanished. My mind stirred, and I realized I was dreaming. 

I crossed the dream room’s threshold. The walls were no longer moonlight-blue but corn silk yellow, giving the room a soft glow. To my left, in lieu of a closet, the wall opened into a previously hidden, unfinished room. The drywall appeared ready for sanding and painting, but a few strips of seam tape hung loose and ruffled in the breeze from the now-open window. I stared at this strange new space, my body shifting with uncertainty.

Oh, never mind, you can fix this, I said to myself. DIY, do-it-yourself. Everything under control.

I picked up a bucket of drywall joint compound and a taping knife, sitting in a corner of the room. Scooping a dollop, I spread a layer of “mud” along each seam, ceiling to floor, and secured the loose strips of tape. Then I returned the bucket to the corner, pounded the cover on, wiped the taping knife clean with an old cloth rag, and placed both knife and rag on top of the bucket.

Back in the main room, I inspected the carpet and walls for signs of furniture, books, or pictures. No indentations, nail heads, nothing. Empty except for my shadow. I might have ended the dream at this point—or continue shadowboxing—but this untested nothingness felt both familiar and intriguing. 

Let go, a voice inside me said. And so, I did.

Dazzling light immediately flooded the room. I became a shadow without a shadowStanding in emptiness, I felt powerless yet unafraid. 

I scanned the light-filled room. To my right, on the wall shared with our neighbor’s townhouse, I saw an access panel. I turned the panel clips, lifted the cover, and peered down a long, dark tunnel with no perceptible walls, ceiling, or floor. A hidden world.

Seek. A voice called in the distance.

I sensed the passageway led to something deeply authentic. Then I knew this was a line in the sand moment. If I rejected the invitation, I’d miss a chance to experience the opposite of the predictable, controllable, manipulated life I’d DIY fabricated.

Oh, never mind, I am who I am. On my hands and knees, I crawled into the tunnel. And woke into His marvelous light here at Vanaprastha. 

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  1. bigskybuckeye

    Stunning narrative! Carole, your writing skills shine with this post. I enjoyed being an invisible observer of this dream. Sometimes dreams become a writer’s seeds.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for reading, commenting, and encouraging, Richard.


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