Contributed by Author/Artist Carl Franz
Contributed by Author/Artist Carl Franz
“To die, to sleep - To sleep, perchance to dream”
Hamlet, William Shakespeare
The moment I entered the plush high-vaulted building I knew I was in a dream, but the man waiting at one of the many doors set into the wall of the spacious lobby area looked terribly real. His face was thin and grey, with caved in hollows for cheeks. His eyes were tight balls of anxious marble and they fastened on me in genuine desperation.
There were lots of other people milling around the airy open plan pen-pushers’ paradise who could have helped him. But despite his unhealthy appearance and the incongruous long brown grocer’s coat he wore, the office personnel (including the receptionist sitting at her desk) ignored him completely. This was in no way down to any cold indifference on the part of the office staff. It was more the other way around. It was him who was completely ignoring them.
A clue as to the reason for this lay in the contrasting quality of colour and definition between the passing staff and the grocer man. His clammy skin, panicky eyes and old habitually worn work-wear smock were almost palpable to my senses. The people busily weaving around us, on the other hand, were lacking in texture and somewhat insubstantial. Mr Grocer was a real person, of that I had no doubt, while the figures in the background were simply part of the dream-scape.
My feet carried me unbidden towards the wooden island surrounding the receptionist, but Mr Grocer barred my way. He was just about popping with anxiety. In waking life I would have been a little apprehensive, but all the same as helpful as possible. In the dream, however, all I could think of was that he was about to ask me for some dreaded directions. I don't do directions! Even if I had been familiar with the huge glass and chrome complex he, or perhaps both of us, had constructed, I would have been no use to him at all. I do try to help, of course, but I usually end up just talking nonsense while my arms wave about like a scarecrow in a hurricane.
I seriously considered walking around him (well, everyone else was) but of course the other people were not real and, added to that, avoiding him would necessitate an abrupt and downright rude detour. So I simply stopped just a couple of feet short of the nervous grocer. He, in turn, leaned forward in a subconscious effort to close the gap between us and when he spoke his voice was high and shaky.
“You’re before me. Go in. You’re first!” He gestured towards one of the several identical offices along the wall.
My sense of relief at not being challenged for information was somewhat tempered by his overly eager offer for me to take the lead at the head of his one man queue. I was reminded of the old book title joke; “Over the Cliff” By Hugo First. I was seriously tempted to do a rendition of it for him, even if it did come with a long grey beard and a walking stick, however my mood of black humour and suspicion lifted briefly, to be replaced by an inexplicably powerful and unshakeable certainty.
Without any hesitation whatsoever, I shared this sudden bubble of knowledge with him by saying; “The door is for you, not for me.”
My voice surprised me with its uncharacteristic air of quiet confidence. The panicky man seemed momentarily impressed too, and his anxious eyes flicked involuntarily over to the door and then quickly back to me. He might well have argued the point but I was already turning, heading for the decadently oversized glass and polished chrome exit.
I woke then and immediately regretted my curt attitude towards the man in the grocer’s coat. I chided myself. If I had only been a little more lucid in the dream I might have shown more empathy and been better able to assist the poor guy.
A few days later during a meditation I saw him again. This time he was standing all alone in a deep pocket of cold heavy shadow. He looked terribly forlorn but I was heartened to see that he at least recognised me. But my grocer friend didn't waste any energy asking me for help this time. He just let his head sink back down again and went back to staring at his feet.
“Ask the angels for help.” I offered.
There are a thousand ways I could have said it. Everyone has their own way, I suppose. I just hoped it would mean something to him.
I think it did because Grocer man raised his head once more to make eye contact. But his thin colourless lips would not pry apart to ask anyone for anything ever again. He had given up hope.
I called out aloud to the angels, hoping he would join in. He disappointed me on that by maintaining his stubborn silence, but something was changing. The smothering shadow around him began to unwrap and fall away like discarded packaging, as light filtered down from above. Long translucent white columns lit up the darkness and then tenderly curved around his body. I could see a fine silver pencil detail showing through inside the light, etching out the form of huge dazzling bright feathers as they ever-so-gently enveloped the lonely grocer.
I found myself drifting away at that moment and so I can only guess as to the outcome.
Here's wishing you a peaceful, healing journey, Mr Grocer.
About the Author:
I am a retired engineer living in the beautiful countryside of Yorkshire, England. Often to be found striding along the country paths alongside the rivers, or ambling through the local woods, lost in my thoughts and happy as a lark. I enjoy painting and writing. Through them, I try to describe the spiritual experiences encountered during my daily and nocturnal travels. These experiences have always heavily influenced my life and now I have time to explore them and perhaps share my deep interest in all peaceful spiritual practices which celebrate and respect nature.
Carl Franz can be contacted at: