As salaam alaikum,
I just attended yet another great conference, this one that I liked even more than the last: Expression of Islam in Contemporary African American Communities. I'll reflect on this later. There's a series of other things that I need to reflect on first, however.
The first one was a dream I had last night.
I had a dream that I saved a baby sparrow from its most certain demise. The sparrow was not yet mature, but I believed it to be loyal to me. It had been injured and was now healing, but had a little, black rubber tag, cylindrical, around its little stick leg as an identification.
For some reason, my parents were collecting birds to include in some master recipe. This meal would be prepared consecutively, so many birds would have to be sacrificed.
And for some reason, we had a house full of birds. Most of them were sparrows, but some were pigeons, mourning doves and blue jays. Those were the ones that I remembered.
Anyway, in order to collect the birds for the sacrificial stew, so to speak, my parents, but I mainly remember my mother, held up a basket-woven net connected to a large trash bag. This way, the birds would fly through the round openings in this basket net and not be able to fly out, thereby being captured.
I really didn't think this scheme was going to work, so I was at first unconcerned...until my mother held up this odd net contraption and birds from everywhere in my old house (because this was all taking place on the steps to the upstairs in my childhood house) flew in to the net obediently, effectively capturing themselves for the kill.
Nor did they protest or flap around at all once they were trapped. They just complied, silently.
And then, I remembered my young sparrow. He or she (it was too young for me to tell the difference) was perching on my finger. I figured that it was loyal to me and would not be tricked into flying into the trap like all the other birds so dutifully did. But I was deceived. Though it did so later, my baby sparrow flew into the top of the net and disappeared amongst the numerous other sparrows, only distinguishable by the black tag on its leg that I could no longer see.
And I was crestfallen, but I didn't let it show and I was also in denial. I knew that was it for my baby bird that I nursed to health that wasn't even done healing yet. I wonder if it knew that it was flying to its own death, or was it just a cheerful little bird just trying to go where the other beings like him or her were going. The birds chirped happily, as some of them perched on the net.
So many thoughts went through my mind. I thought, well, the death will be quick, and my baby bird won't suffer and he or she will get to be with its own kind soon in the Hereafter. I also tried to see if I could see my birdie in the translucent bag so I could rescue her or him and sneak away with it, not looking back.
But I also felt a sense of resignation. I knew that, since my bird flew into the trap, it was destined for this odd, ritual sacrifice that I somehow did not question that much. I felt like it was something I just had to do. My only hope was that, since there were now easily over a hundred birds in the net, that maybe my bird would not be of those selected for the day's sacrificial stew, though, for the sake of my own suffering, I hoped that the stew was all cooked in one day so I would not have to suffer the agony of thinking of my baby bird.
And this is a stew that I would have to partake of, mind you. I also feared eating my baby bird. I'd have to eat the stew.
My mother was moderately surprised that so many birds had flown into the trap, and was contemplating what to do with them all as she made her way to the kitchen of my childhood home.
And then I either woke up shortly after or I switched dreams.
I tell you, I've had odd dreams in my day, but this dream was odd in content and emotion. I felt ambivalence as my beloved baby bird that I had nursed to health chose his or her own kind over me, and then flew to its certain demise, and I was helpless in determining its fate. Ambivalence and sadness, helplessness, resignation...
My dreams are so complicated these days, I can't begin to tell you what they mean.