my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Through a Glass, Darkly

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. I Corinthians 13.12

There are so many things I don't understand. I don't understand how people can mistreat animals in ways I won't describe. I don't understand how a man can stab his eight year old daughter to death. I don't understand how six million individuals can be methodically exterminated.

I don't understand how we can live under the Damocles sword of nuclear holocaust and go through our daily lives as if it can never happen.

We watch television and are mildly concerned about the carnage in Iraq -- more than mildly concerned if we have loved ones in the middle of it. In my home, we roll our eyes at the daily obfuscation of what we're really doing over there and why. We're vaguely aware of how much of a powderkeg Iraq remains.

And we hear that Iran may be preparing a nuclear test. And that the erratic dictator in North Korea actually has long range missiles to go with what is probable nuclear warhead capability.

And then we change the channel.

Years ago I had a dream that remains vivid in memory. I am in a hotel ballroom -- apparently at a conference, a meeting with many attendees.

It seems like Hawaii, but it could be at any coastal location, I suppose. The wall of windows in the ballroom faces an open expanse of beach and ocean. Looking out, you can see to the horizon, perfect emptiness of beach and water.

People mill about -- it seems like a cocktail reception, there is a dull murmur of discussion and glasses clinking. There is a businesslike quality to the gathering, not festive; people are lowkey, it's pleasant.

A blinding flash illuminates the room and all heads pivot, all eyes turn to the glass wall.

At the far, far edge of the sea, a column of cloud rises to the heavens and slowly expands horizontally to fill the expanse of sky.

In my dream, oddly, the room remains silent. There is no screaming, no panic -- rather a deathly quiet. It is as if we had been expecting this all along.

All I remember of the dream's end is a terrible sadness as I realized everything was over. It was all over.

The rabbi who conducted my conversion classes was adamantly anti-nuclear. He pointed out how much would be lost with the death of human civilization: the books, the history, the art, the science, the potential for more human development.

To him, this was the biggest sin that could be committed against God, this willful destruction of all that had been provided to us.

If you believe in Intelligent Design, this destruction would be the most egregious sin possible against the Designer. If you don't, you must at least acknowledge the tremendous loss of all that humans have endeavored to create in their brief span on earth.

I don't have a clever, witty or inspirational ending to this post. I don't know if it has a purpose, other than catharsis for me as I shake off that dream again.

But maybe it could remind us that our choices, particularly political choices, contribute to the direction we're going in. Or the direction they can keep us from going in.


Anonymous Laura said...

Thank you for an eloquent post today. I have been in despair about the world situation for a long while, but especially in the past few years.
It is hard to live with all-pervading dread, so you learn to bracket it, I guess.

6:20 AM

Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Very well put, M!

I know how you feel, and your picture captures your words so beautifully.

See you in a few days,

6:47 AM

Blogger Trina said...


You perfectly put into words so many things that I feel. And since I usually feel crazy/hysterical for being so afraid of those possibilities, I appreciate your post even more.

I live within viewing distance of a nuclear power plant, and that thing scares the living daylights out of me. I was home during the day a couple summers ago, when a strange alarm I'd never heard before started to sound. I tried to ignore it for a few minutes, but then I couldn't take it anymore. I walked out onto the front porch of my townhouse just as the gal who lived next door was coming out. We both just looked at each other, and her face mirrored the fear and dread that I know was on my own. We didn't even have to ask each other why we had come outside. To this day, I don't know what that alarm was, and I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

I know I often change the channel on the things you spoke of, because the fear and sadness they cause in me are too much for me to tolerate. Recently, though, my mother sent me a link to a website that I forced myself to look at start to finish. I don't know if you're familiar with it, but it's a photo journal (with written commentary in English) by a gal who takes motorcycle rides through the Chernobyl area. It is both bone-chilling and heartbreaking, and I think necessary viewing for everyone, especially those who refuse to acknowledge the dangers of nuclear power. If you want to check it out, or pass the site along, it's: - but truly, it is hard to look at for sensitive people. Just a warning.

Thanks again for posting this - I have a hard time putting these fears into words, but you did so wonderfully and compellingly.

7:08 AM

Blogger briefcandle said...

thanks, m. I read this today with mixed emotions of gratitude and sadness.

I was away from television for an entire ten days recently. What do I see in the airport on my trip home? The TV blaring a packed-to-the-rafters press conference about the runaway bride. I had no idea what they were talking about. Talk about dreams...

3:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may seem distant to you, but to someone closer to the danger the feeling can be quite different. Here in Japan the big threat is North Korea and a low level of unwavering fear seems to characterize Japan's relationship with its nearby neighbor.

Certainly no one beleives those missiles could make it to the US, but they certainly could do heafty dammage to Japan. The victim mentality still reigns here regarding the 2nd World War and the horrific means by which it was brought to an end in Japan. Most Japanese are stoicly anti-nuks and this recent development has only worssened the situation between these two countries.


9:57 PM

Blogger mireille said...

Neko, you bring up many interesting things -- at least one of which is our country's one time sense of invulnerability -- except we now know we aren't, any more than Japan is. Or, really, any country now. It wouldn't take a missile -- just a "rogue" bomb hefted by a terrorist. And you also do well to remind us who brought the bomb into first use. I am well versed in the reasons why it was employed -- and I will forever be ambivalent about it.

11:01 AM


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