As I write these words, I, along with millions of other people on the East Coast are wondering just how bad Hurricane Sandy will prove to be. Outside my front window I see a gray, steady rain. The branches of the trees are beginning to sway and bend with the increasing force of the wind. I am hoping our old, very large sycamore tree in front of our house can weather this storm.
Last night I had a dream. In the dream I was in West Philly. The sky was clear and sunny, and I thought perhaps all the hype about the storm had been just that: hype. But then I looked to the east and saw an enormous dark funnel cloud moving through the heart of Center City. The glass debris of skyscrapers was flying through the air. I wondered if Independence Hall would also be destroyed, and I considered the symbolic weight, should that happen, of seeing the very icon of the United States’ democracy being ripped apart in the juggernaut of nature’s force. In the dream I knew that the magnitude of the storm was related to global warming. I managed to get on a bus headed safely north of the city, but I and my fellow passengers watched with disbelief and horror as we witnessed our city being destroyed. The devastation we were witnessing paled the attacks of 9/11.
When I listen to dreams, I listen to them symbolically, not literally. I don’t think the dream I had was about Hurricane Sandy specifically, nor that it was foreshadowing the cataclysmic destruction of Philadelphia. But though I don’t take dreams literally, I do take them seriously, especially the ones that come in the form of nightmares, dreams that carry such an urgent message that they scare the wits out of us to make us wake up and take notice.
I’m not the only one who has been having dreams these days of devastating things happening on the planet. And I don’t think they come from watching too many Hollywood films about the apocalypse. I think the dreams I and others are having are because we humans know, at a deep level of our being, that what we are doing to the planet is inviting widespread catastrophe. It is knowledge that many of us are repressing, which doesn’t make the reality of it go away. It only means it will make its presence felt in increasingly nightmarish ways.
I know some people see climate change as a political issue, some see it as an economic issue, but I see it as a spiritual issue. Spirituality is about comprehending our oneness with that which is greater than ourselves, comprehending our interconnectedness with all Life — past, present and future –, comprehending our oneness with the Earth and the Great Reality out of which we arise and of which we are each an expression. Isolation, separation, disconnection are all illusions of the ego mind. It is that illusion that has brought us to this brink and is threatening to leave an uninhabitable planet in its wake. It is that ego illusion of separateness and disconnection that Earth is forcing this generation to transcend.