Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Today's Lectionary and My Molly Cat Dream

Some dreams are so rich and layered with associations that we ponder them for quite a while. In today's Lectionary readings, there was this verse from the story about the anointing of David:
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

This brought me back to my dream about my Molly cat having lost weight.

We live in a society where being overweight is a major stigma and Molly is a fat cat. She gained this weight, first from grief when her son, Stripes, was killed by a car. And then she gained more weight when we brought in a new young cat to replace Stripes. Our intention has been good, but it had the reverse effect. The new young cat became the center of attention and even worse, thought it was good fun to harass old Molly.

In Waking Life, it is never Molly that gets up on the table or my desk. It is the new younger cat. And in Waking Life, it would be a good thing for Molly to loose a little weight. But in the dream, I am punishing Molly for being on the table and then I notice she has lost weight, and realize that she is dying.

Today, a month after having the dream, I started to think this image had something to do with my concerns about my father having been designated for hospice care by his doctor. And I was also suddenly remembering a year and a half ago when my daughter was so sick and her doctor said that she wouldn't treat her individual illnesses until we confronted the underlying source of stress -- her high school!

In March, when I had come to visit my parents and attend various family business meetings, I learned that my sister's goal was to get our father designated a hospice patient. We had a fight because she did not want me at the meeting with the doctor. Mom and Dad said let her have her way, so I did. At the appointment, the doctor did designate him for hospice. Dad was so weak and he was ready to give up and die. It made me realize how much I didn't want him to die. I wanted him to try to get better.

In the case of my daughter, she was sort of giving up, too. I think her life was so miserable, she was just not even trying anymore. Her high school was so performance and appearance oriented that it just squeezed the soul right out of her. A girl two years ahead of her had not come back for senior year because anorexia had taken over.

So the image of the weak Molly cat reminds me of both of these. In the case of my Dad, his illnesses are the result of being overweight. But in the case of my daughter, it is more about having been in a high school culture that places so much emphasis on appearance, and how weight fits into that.

I was particularly drawn to that verse from the Lectionary because, when I think of being among Christians, I want to be among people who look at the heart and not the outward appearance. I was so appalled by this post. When I described it to my daughter, she said it was "the sort of thing fifteen year old girls do." I realized that it was the sort of thing that had made my daughter so soul sick she was just giving up back then. It reminded me of those awful Mean Girls, the Queen Bees who had dominated her old school through their contempt and ridicule.

The good news is that my Dad got better and is "no longer a suitable candidate for home hospice." And when the doctor explained what she thought was the source of my daughter's medical problems, I moved her to another high school the next week.

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