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I know my readers may get a bit tired of my writing about my dreams. But I am having trouble making sense of this one, and writing is the best way for me to do that. I do know that the dream I awoke from this morning is exceedingly strange, but I think it had some important messages embedded in the strangeness.

In the dream I found myself interacting with a group of nudists in, of all things, a church service. It was as if we had returned to viewing nudity as Adam and Eve  reportedly did prior to eating the infamous apple. Nothing was sexual, no one stared at someone else’s nakedness, and the biggest miracle for me was that I was totally comfortable with my own nude body. Equally strange was the fact that no one got self conscious until I said the closing prayer and it was time to get dressed and leave. Everyone looked for a dressing room so they could hide what they were putting on until they were fully dressed and ready to once again walk shoulder to shoulder with the general public.

Obviously, this was about peeling away layers of what I consider  to be” protective barriers” of my inner, true self and being comfortable in that vulnerable condition. It was also a strong message to accept my own body even though it does not confirm to the media’s image of how a body should look.

What jumps out at me is my need to hide the protective layers I put between my inner true self  and the outer shell I wear as I walk this planet with others. So, I must ask myself, “Why is that important?”

I haven’t a clue, so here starts the free association thinking outside the box that will hopefully give me a clue. The dream does not seem to be about the outer layer that I wear for public acceptance. Perhaps the dream is associated with the fear that if someone knows how and what armor I put on to protect my inner true self that my protective armor can be more easily penetrated?  No.  I think I need to explore in more depth why the layers of armor between my inner self and  the outside layer seen with the naked eye are so important.

I have spent the past two days immersed in a “Dismantling Racism” workshop, so I can’t help but think I need to more closely examine the layers between my true inner self and my outer layer covered in white skin and associated aspects of white privilege. I think it is because I have a bit of work to do in identifying those layers and working through them as much as I can.

The first layer must have been formed when I was a child by what I was taught and what was role modeled for me. Those are probably closest to my true self since they were created first.  Remnants of those faulty and harmful beliefs learned as a child and adolescent still rattle around in my subconscious to the point that they can still affect my behavior and relationships with others.

Developmentally speaking, next would be the layers I added when I escaped my home of origin, got an education, and started building my career. This allowed me  to encounter and relate to persons of color which helped me form more accurate and healthy attitudes regarding persons of color—-particularly my experiences in Kansas City and San Antonio. Most of that part of the armor, while still somewhat superficial, was more positive. However, in the midst of all that I kept some of my prejudicial and sterotypical thinking. So even that piece of my protective armor is something I’d rather hide from others.

Now I come to the “current” piece of armor associated with the way I live now.  I am retired. By choice I live in a blended neighborhood. I make a point of smiling, waving, and initiating conversation with my neighbors of color. The ugly part is the interactions are superficial and somewhat uncomfortable as they don’t go any further…..except for the visits I have enjoyed from neighborhood children. I’d like to think I am not close to my neighbors of color because they are mostly transient and move on within a year’s time or sooner. But I have to own my part in not trying to further bridge the gap between them and me. I’ve told myself it is to ease their discomfort that I back off from trying to initiate meaningful dialogue, but I have to be honest and own that I am also avoiding my own discomfort.

Working with (supervising), providing mental health care as a psychiatric nurse, and teaching persons of color was different than walking across my yard as a retired person and striking up a comfortable conversation. I don’t particularly like the realization that the majority of my relationships with people of color prior to my retirement were most probably affected by myself being in a position of white-privilege because I had control, power, and authority. And now that I don’t particularly care to have those attributes, it makes stepping out of that context difficult for both my neighbors and myself because we are not used to relating to each other without that privilege dictating the rules. And that privilege is still in the way for me and for them as it makes it difficult for us to truly trust each other.

To be fair, I am a bit of an introvert who lives alone with four dogs and values my time alone, and I don’t have more than superficial conversations with my white neighbors either. But when I do, they are not uncomfortable because we are not trying to work through, over, or around barriers of color based on centuries of hurt, greed, and mistrust.

Well, that is enough to get out of a weekend and a strange dream.  It feels overwhelming in terms of “where do I go from here.” I do know that if I allow Creator to guide my thoughts and actions and if I strive to see Christ in every face I meet it will make this journey easier.

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