Dissecting a Dream

I cruise through the suburbs in my dark blue Chevy Colorado. It’s a nice day weather-wise, I like my job, and I’m headed there now. This neighborhood is just a shortcut—I live somewhere else, somewhere cheaper, more isolated and less insulated. As I approach a particular house I must have seen a hundred times before—a McMansion with a brilliantly green lawn—I get a spiritual sense, like an inwards tap on the shoulder, that I should stop there and wait for something that’s about to occur. I obediently slow and park, because this sort of gut instinct has never steered me wrong before. Just as I nuzzle the curb and engage the emergency break, I hear a distinctly barnyard sound emanating nearby. Curiosity now thoroughly piqued, I hop out the driver’s side and cast about for the source. I see a shadow moving across the lawn and glance up. There’s a red heifer floating in the sky. She’s wearing a white, heifer-sized parachute. It wafts downwards gently and deposits her, still lowing, in the midst of the McMansion lawn. As she takes a few tentative steps, still wobbly with fear and entangled in the parachord, her hooves crunch discordantly upon the grass. I look down at her feet. The lawn is full of innumerable children’s school supplies—pencils, crayons, backpacks, lunchboxes. I’m understandably freaking out. Fumbling with my flip phone, I dial 911. I get an operator who seems less than enthused about his job. Hedging what I’m about to say with ample acknowledgement that it’s going to sound crazy but isn’t in fact, I eventually blurt out that I’ve just seen a cow descend, borne by parachute, from the heavens. I’m told that if I call 911 again they’ll track me down and arrest me for abuse of the line. I shut my flip phone and pocket it, unjustly chastised. I seek out help, hoping at least for some third party to independently verify that the ginger cow amidst a quagmire of school supplies is real. Neighborhood drivers blur past me in luxury sedans, speeding up as I try to wave them down, apparently afraid of either myself or the situation at hand. Understandable; neither I nor the entangled beast belong here. Eventually a neighbor across the way speaks to me from the safety of her screen porch. I ask if she can see the cow too; she can, to my relief. Convinced I’m still sane, I relax a bit and begin to appraise the situation. I ask the neighbor if she would help keep the cow calm while I remove the cumbersome parachute. She apologizes and retreats back into her house, saying it’s too risky and that we should let the authorities handle it. I begin to protest that the authorities aren’t coming, but she’s already gone. Just then the owner of the McMansion in question pulls up in a mini-van. She’s as stunned at the sight as I was originally. I tell her that I watched the cow descend, and ask if she has any idea who might be responsible for all of this? She denies any such knowledge, but shiftily so, as if she has her suspicions but is holding them close. I notice her son, elementary-school-aged, is in the back seat. Tired of waiting for anyone else to prove decisive and saddened by the forlornness of the paralyzed paracow, I step onto the lawn and wade towards her, pencils snapping against my weight. It proves far easier than expected to remove her bonds. She snorts, shakes her ears relievedly, and takes off at a speedy trot incongruous with her size, disappearing from sight. The mom and her son have parked the minivan by now. She tells me they’re having friends over for breakfast and hope I’ll stay. I agree, apparently forgetting about work, and sit through a meal tasteless both in food and conversation. The “friends” are all fellow members of the Home Owner’s Association who exclude me from the conversation except for a few snide remarks whenever I attempt to contribute. I wait until everyone else has filed out to say my goodbyes. The mom tells me to drop by any time in a subtly flirtatious fashion. I smile and glance back at her son, who is playing pretend at the breakfast table by himself. I feel sad for him, but I don’t know why.


Red heifers are the Old Testament’s prime sacrificial offering, so the cow “descending from heaven” is probably akin to when God materialized a ram to act as a substitute for the sacrifice of young Isaac.

The quagmire of school supplies clearly represent children, perhaps in particular the generation of youngsters that are currently in elementary and middle school.

That the parachute entangles the heifer may indicate that, though she has been sent benevolently, it is not for her own benefit. Echoes of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Yet why does she need me to remove these bonds? Could this reference another person of import whom I in some sense free to do a crucial but terrible deed? Or does removing the bonds represent “picking up one’s cross” and “sharing Christ’s cup”? John the Baptist paved the way, and paid with his head.

That she lands amidst the school supplies may indicate who she will act as a sacrifice for—or whom she represents. In the first case, this dream may mean that God has postponed His wrath for another generation. In the latter case, it means that this generation of children are, “like cattle led to the slaughter.” But perhaps this refers to a spiritual slaughter—indicating that the American zeitgeist of McMansions and schools produces an inwards death.

Interesting too that the owner of the house is a single mother to a young son. Isaac again, this time without Abraham. They are well off materially in his father’s permanent absence. The HOA breakfast is a modernized Rome of bread and circuses which accepts her wholeheartedly. Despite this popularity and fiscal plenty, her son seems to feel his father’s absence like a phantom pain. She hopes I’ll return, perhaps to eventually become an adoptive substitute?

This was one of the realest dreams I’ve ever had, in the sense that all of its details were intensely believable and slice-of-life excepting the cow and the lawn. It took me quite some time to realize the coherent narrative, meshing the Biblical with Americana, to make a sort of pre-apocalyptic tableau wherein the children of the nation are at risk, to the extent that a heavenly ambassador has been sent to die in their stead. Yet, though most of the adults in the scene appear conscious of the event’s import, they prefer to cower in their cars and houses rather than join me in freeing the cow to roam towards her momentous destination. And the same compassion which inspired me to aid the heifer also threatens, subtly, to entrap me in the very world that has made her necessary (by becoming involved with the mother).

That, or there was something very wrong with the wine and pasta I had the night before.

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