I had a dream that I was in a small village that had stood for many years. It was my home. I returned to my house through winding streets and back alleys. Alleys with clothes hanging overhead and stones for pavement. Alleys with activity and fire escapes. Down one such alley was a young man wearing a white hat. He was standing on a soap box giving a speech to no one at all. When I saw the white hat I felt a sense of panic and I pulled him off his box, “you can’t do that here. Not by my house! Go somewhere else and spill your words.” I said to him as I ushered him away with my hands on the small of his back. “But I’ve been preaching here all my life and you’ve never said anything before.” Was his reply. “Now is different.”
Then the dream did as dreams do and jumped to a bleak and rainy day. The dirt street was full of mud and the whole town now looked as if it were covered with soot. Men in heavy coats, all the same, walked in the street. They wore no hats. I immediately felt anger, deep anger. For reasons of their march in the street they were covered from head to foot in mud. The mud obscured their faces so I could not discern who they were. I paused to look and my anger welled. My body stiffened with it.
I knew then I was with other people and one of them was urging me “forget about them” and trying to move me forward with their hand in the small of my back. I turned to the men in the street who seemed to wish all at once that I were not looking at them. “Don’t worry,” I said, “The mud has covered your vile faces and I cannot recognize a one of you. But I know you are townsfolk. I know you are my friends and neighbors. I know you are my brothers and sisters. I stand looking at you and I see what you have become. I thank God for the mud for it covers your faces so I cannot see who betrays us. If I do not know who you are then God will not punish me for hating you.”
The other I was with then succeeded in moving me on as I left the mud covered men with slumped shoulders and hearts full of shame. They sensed their own vile nature and I left with my hatred. In the days to come it would merge with my knowledge and then no mud would save them. I saw that all of us who were together wore white hats, they were untouched by the mud.
Then I awoke from the dream, my heart still beating faster, my jaw still clenched. My anger still there. I resolved not to explore what it all means for such was the feeling of it.