Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Dreams, White or Otherwise

I had a dream.

No, not like MLK. That’s more of what we call a vision than a dream. Mine was nothing inspiring or quotable. Just a regular dream, the ordinary kind where your mind drifts randomly.

The Grand Entrance

In my dream I went to Hallowby Hall. I had heard that it had the most amazing Christmas decorations on the planet. Everyone said so. And I couldn’t wait to see them.

So I went there. And even as I approached I must say I was impressed. Rich, red carpets led the way up the front stairs. Gold gleamed from towering archways. Tall trees of blue and green framed either side, and from beneath each bough multi-coloured lights winked mischievously. Banners of satin crowned the entranceway, and from underneath gleamed the golden light of a dozen shining chandeliers. Such a glorious sight I had never seen.

Breathlessly I mounted the staircase, where a host of workers busily added to the general opulence, stringing new wreaths, affixing even more light bulbs, polishing gleaming railings, kneeling to scrub floors to mirror-like perfection, stretching atop towering ladders to shine the lights even brighter, or bustling about to effect innumerable other wonders of beautification.

And I wandered through their midst, agog at their efforts. If this is the entranceway, I thought, how glorious will the building be?

I could not imagine.

The Interior

I opened the huge, polished-oak doors and stepped into the lobby.

To my surprise, the interior was dark and dingy. Plaster hung limply from torn, tea-coloured strips of wallpaper. Drop sheets covered all the furniture, and on some rested discarded tools and fragments of debris from the moldy ceiling. Clouds of dust rolled gently across a floor of ancient wood slats, which was water-damaged and creaky.

To one side were a number of empty buckets, rags and paint cans. The windows had been boarded or papered over from inside, so that only a few shards of light could enter. A half a dozen indifferent workmen lazed around the room, two playing cards and another very clearly asleep on a pile of miscellaneous rubbish. Nobody was doing anything.

So Many Questions

I returned to the gleaming foyer, and approached a worker laboring at the top of a ladder to change the bulb in a truly immense ornate lantern.

“Why is the inside such a mess?” I asked.

“Ha. Just look around,” the workman responded, gesturing expansively at his handiwork.

“Well, yes; um … it’s a very nice entranceway, to be sure; but I’m just surprised that there’s nothing really being done inside. To be quite honest, it’s just a little disappointing.”

“Are you kidding me?” he responded, “Have you looked at this railing I just polished? You can see your face in it.”

“Um, yes,” I said, “so you can. But …”

“Well, what about the carpet out here? And when did you ever see such garlands? Or such banners? We’ve spent a long time making sure it’s absolutely glorious: you’ve a heck of a nerve calling our work into question!”

“Yes, but if you’ll pardon me, what’s the use of all that? Isn’t the whole point of an entranceway to invite people into something? What’s the use of inviting them into nothing — or into a mess?”

He furrowed his brow. “Pfaw. There’s no pleasing some people,” he exclaimed. “Look, stupid: we’ve got to get people in. If they don’t come in, there’s no point at all. Now, after that, it’s really up to them. They’re adults: they can choose for themselves how they want to enjoy the interior. Get ’em in — that’s my job. And that’s the one that counts. The rest ... well, we can leave that for later.”

“But there’s nothing to see inside,” I said. “It’s dingy, disorganized and unimpressive. You’ve put all this gloss on something that’s a huge let-down. Worse than that, people are just going to be bored inside: there’s nothing to do, nothing to learn, and nowhere comfortable to sit. In fact, there’s really not much reason to come if all you’ve got is an entranceway. So yeah, you’ve done a great job out here; but for what?”

“Don’t you care about people?” he asked incredulously, “People have got to get in. It’s a terrific building, really. And it’s awfully cold outside.”

“Yes, but ... what happens when a few come in, and see that nothing’s going on, and then go away disappointed? And what if they tell others, and people stop coming at all? Shouldn’t we at least put a little work into the experience they have after the front entrance?”

The workman waved his hand at me as if he were fanning gnats. “Just go away. You don’t get it. And you’ll discourage people around here with your talk.”

So I went home.

Then I woke up.

Is Daniel in the House?

What did it all mean?

You decide.

But I don’t suppose you need to dare to be a Daniel to figure it out.

1 comment :

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