The Fountain & Burro Dream

For great is the power of God; by the humble He is glorified. What is too sublime for you , seek not, into things beyond your strength search not. What is committed to you, attend to; for what is hidden is not your concern. With what is too much for you meddle not, when shown things beyond human understanding. Their own opinion has misled many, and false reasoning unbalanced their judgment.
— Sirach 3: 19-24

I’m not one to dwell much on dreams, but every once in a while I have one that is so remarkably vivid and thematically complete that it gives me pause and seems to bear further contemplation.

Some time ago I had one such experience that I’d like to recount because it not only shares some common characteristics with a previous dream I had shared (see God, A Refuge in All Dangers), but I think that it may provide some inspiration that others may find of value on their journey.

I had also intended to comment in detail on various elements, but eventually decided that the simple dream imagery is sufficient for the reader to understand.

From the outset of the dream, I found myself aboard a bus that was careening out of control down the steep slope of the Coachella Mountains above Rancho Mirage.

From the dizzying heights of alpine elevations –– often complete with year round snow at the top –– a road cuts down the mountain face in a series of tight switchbacks and eventually into the Coachella Valley that accommodates towns like Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and Palm Springs.

My wife and children were also aboard the bus. They were all sitting quietly, looking out of the windows and taking in the scenery, while I was frantically scrambling towards the front of the bus because I had noticed that there was no driver. That would explain why we were careening out of control.

I managed to finally grab the wheel, hit the brakes and wrestle the bus to a sliding stop just off the road onto the desert grasses growing all over the foothills. Here the pavement ended and I noticed that the road continued with a deep red granite cover –– the kind of soil you find here and there around the Southwest that has a high iron content.

Relieved to be off the bus, and much warmer at the lower desert elevation, we immediately started walking in a west, northwesterly direction towards the area where Cathedral City normally stands. None of the usual cities were there, however, and the landscape looked the way it probably did before it was overdeveloped for a large mass of L.A.’s affluent, frolicking vacationers, and retirees.

Eventually, we came upon a small village that consisted of nothing more than a main square with a fountain in the center, and some equally small buildings that formed the square. It was more of an outpost, really, the kind of little Mexican village you might see in an old Western movie.

The fountain immediately drew my attention; not so much because it was impressive to look at, but because it was in the center of the outpost. It was not overly ornate, but made in the style of Mexican fountains carved from area stone, with a design reminiscent of a flower.

It was old, practical and solid, with a steady stream of clear, refreshing water bubbling up from some unknown depths in an area known for its natural springs. It seemed like a good time for us all to refresh ourselves with a cool drink.

As we enjoyed a restful pause, I noticed that there were also some other people in the main square. I say ‘other people’, but it would be more accurate to say ‘women’, because there were no other men to be seen at that moment. A handful of women were mostly hovering around the fountain in relaxed conversation, but occasionally they would come and go from the small structures around the square.

There was a small building that appeared to be some sort of storage shed. A single burro was tethered in front, with kind eyes and a gentle disposition to match.

I approached the burro with my daughter to get a better look, and hoisted her up onto its back. I suppose I did that because, like me, she’s also very fond of animals. For whatever reason, I also decided to climb up on the burros back, just behind my daughter. Sitting there for a moment, I was surprised at how wide and strong the burro’s back was and pointed as much out to my daughter. The little burro just stood there, patient and nearly motionless.

Another moment later, we carefully slid off the burro’s back because I sensed that it was time to gather up the family and continue our journey.

When I landed on the ground I noticed that I had my hiking shoes on and also paused to thank God for my health and love of hiking.

With my family gathered together, I lead them out through a gap in the buildings. We were facing north and a large expanse of terrain that I am fairly familiar with. Back to the south was the high alpine country that I had traveled through many times. To the east was the route up through Chiriaco Summit with the small shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and beyond to our home in the Valley of the Sun. To the West was the coastal Pacific, where we had also briefly lived years earlier.

For whatever reason, I sensed that we were to head in a north, north westerly direction –– a route I was completely unfamiliar with since I had never had any reason to travel in that direction. Even so, we were all happy to be together as we set a relaxed pace on the next leg of our journey. Immediately after setting out, I woke up.

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