Staying mindful of our everyday fortunes

I was lost. I wasn’t sure where I was. My car was against the concrete abutment of a railroad bridge that crossed over the road at the bottom of the hill that I was climbing. It seemed that there was someone in it who needed an ambulance, but I couldn’t remember who, or why, or whether there was really anyone injured or not. Overcome with vagueness, I was looking for help. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night. Everything was shrouded in what seemed like an eternal twilight. A pale gloom hung in the air. There was no moon and no shadows from the trees. The over cast gray clouds were so heavy that little light could penetrate. The ground was covered with old snow that appeared more like cobwebs than snow. It reflected what little light there was to make things visible. Everything seemed musty and ghostly, as though there were no humans anywhere. It was an atmosphere of meaninglessness. There was no light, no dark, no shadows, no emotions, just my presence, for no purpose, except to find someone, or something. I was in a state of oblivion in a search for meaning in anything. It seemed I was between mortal life and the hereafter. I wandered down a path to a tool shed, away from the nearby house. It was the closest thing to me when I had come to the top of the hill. It was ramshackle and unpainted. The gray, weather beaten door hung ajar by one rusty hinge. Inside there was no sign of life, just moldy, cobwebbed, rusty old plows, tractor wheels, tools and such. I turned to go to the house, which offered little promise of help. It looked as if no one had lived in it for many years. There were broken boards in the porch floor, and dangling shutters hung from the walls at the sides of windows, about ready to fall completely. The windows revealed nothing inside the house, there wasn’t enough light. I knocked, which seemed senseless, and after waiting a few minutes, I opened the unlocked door and entered. I walked through an unfurnished room. It was musty in there, but I thought at least it would offer shelter from the weather until we could get our bearings. Two of my small children were now somehow beside me. The shelter of the house would be some help. Then as we stood in the arched entrance of a large room with a high ceiling that went up to the roof, one whole wall suddenly came crashing in. It was as though an army tank had pushed it in. The room was flooded with bright light, and in the open space left by the walls collapse stood a huge, ravenous, evil, ogre-type monster, roaring, drooling, and eyeing us lustfully. It was horrifying. I held my children closer to my side and cried, “Oh God save us!” I awoke. Yes, I immediately awoke to a beautiful spring morning. The sun tumbled through the open windows, past the lace curtains that floated lightly in the spring breeze. The sun pranced about the room, welcomed and magnified by the soft yellow walls of our bedroom, now reflecting the glory of such morning sunlight. The light breeze accompanying the sun carried with it the scents of the new spring, and the promise of a glorious day becoming itself. With my sweet wife still asleep beside me I truly felt deliverance, and said a morning prayer of thanks. I rejoiced in the beauty of my newfound reality. It makes one wonder, how many of our problems are caused by our mindset, our habits of thought, and manufactured by our fears and fancies. How many of our problems could easily be solved, if we would only wake up to the true reality of our lives, as I just had. That dream occurred many, many, years ago, but has been a presence in my memory, with its apparent moral, ever since. May God bless America. Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to