“I can teach you how to fly.”
Those were the words, spoken to me in a dream last year, by a wise woman I call “Macrina/Judi.” Macrina is Macrina Weiderkehr, an author who has accompanied me on my spiritual journey for the past ten years. And Judi is Judi Dench, the actress. In this particular dream, I knew the person speaking to me was Macrina, but she had the face and voice of Judi Dench.
God does have a sense of humor!
This morning, I am practicing Lectio Divina, sacred reading of the Scriptures, with Macrina’s book, Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God. The scripture for today is Philippians 3:7-16. The verse that catches my attention just happens to be the same verse that Macrina chose to highlight.
“Christ Jesus has made me his own” (v. 12b).
As I sit in the silence with that verse, repeating it over and over, a recent dream rises to mind.
I approach a wounded bird. It is a sandhill crane, with a huge wingspan. The bird is on the ground, and someone else (my husband?) is attempting to care for it. I want to tend to this beautiful, wounded bird, so I continue my approach, my hand held out in a gesture of peace. The terrified bird flails around, its great wings beating a tattoo on the ground. I am afraid she will be hurt in her frightened fury. I stop, and whisper, “Shhh. It’s okay. I’m here to help. Stop struggling. I’m here.”
The crane eventually abandons her struggle, and I stroke her graceful, feathered neck.
As I sit with this dream, I wonder if I am the wounded bird or the person tending to her. As the mother of a son with autism, my wounds are deep. Many of these wounds have healed over the years as I’ve come to a place where I can accept my son just as he is. But some of the wounds have re-opened in the past 18 months, since we moved Joel from our home to Safe Haven Farms, a farm for adults with autism, thankfully just thirty minutes from our home. Even though we bring Joel home every weekend for an overnight, I find it hard to surrender him to God for safe-keeping. I find my mind spinning, constantly, with worries and fears and concerns for his safety, for his happiness, for his overall well-being. After all, I thought, who can care for my son as well as me and his father?
Yes, I believe I am the wounded bird, flailing and thrashing, afraid to let even God close enough to tend to my wounds.
But am I also the one tending the bird? My son is wounded. This move has been difficult for him, and I am trying so hard to comfort him. To let him know he will be okay. That I am still here. I will always be his mother. I will never abandon him.
I get up from my meditation chair to google “crane,” to see what this dream symbol might mean. Birds themselves symbolize our goals, aspirations, and hopes. Cranes, in particular, symbolize happiness, maternal love, and gestures of good will. They are a symbol of looking out for those you love. Cranes can also symbolize a person’s strength, uniqueness, or individuality, and, also, persistence through challenges. They may be telling you that you have too much of one of these qualities, or could benefit by being less this way.
I go back into the quiet, asking God to reveal what He is saying to me through this dream. This is what I hear with the ears of my heart:
Yes, Kathy, you are the injured crane, flailing around with worry and anxiety about your son. You have been so strong all these years—always the caregiver—you have persisted through many challenges. But now is the time to stop struggling. Simply “be” in my presence. I am here. You’re okay. Lean into my presence. Again I say, stop struggling. You will injure those beautiful wings. Those wings represent your aspirations, hopes, and dreams for the future. You were meant to fly. Remember when Macrina/Judi told you she could teach you to fly? I am the author of your dreams. I sent Macrina/Judi to you with that message.
This is the way to learn how to fly. Spend more time in the Word and in my presence. Be with me, Kathy. Stop struggling.
I have made you my own. I gave you those wings. It’s time to let go. It’s time to surrender.
Fly, Kathy! Fly!
I wrote this post 18 months ago, and I wanted to share it today because I am so happy to report that by learning to abide in God’s presence on a daily basis – by learning to just “be,” my fears and anxieties about Joel’s safety have abated. And as I have relaxed into Joel living a more independent life, Joel has come to love his new home on the farm. BOTH OF US ARE LEARNING HOW TO FLY!
Part of this post appears in my new book, The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities