My Trip to the Library
“I..I’ll be right there,” I called out.
After a few seconds I heard a knocking farther down the hallway as Sister Sara beckoned another guest to supper.
Still disoriented from what I now realized was just a bad dream, I sat up and moved over to my writing table. I wanted to jot down some notes about my dream before it became – like most of my dreams – a watery blend of nonsense, but there was no pen, only the ink and the paper. Then I remembered I’d stashed several of my colored pens into my suitcase, so I rummaged through my bag until I found them, of course on the very bottom. After I wrote what I could remember, I felt a bit of my anxiety alleviated. Who needs a therapist when you have a pen?
I went to look in the mirror before I moved on to dinner, but I realized there was none in my room. Just as well, I’m not too fond of the fixtures anyway, and there was no one in the abbey whom I needed to impress. So, I just ran my hands through my hair, straightened my shirt, and left for the great dining hall.
About ten guests – all female – and six nuns aligned both sides of the long wooden dining table. Both ends remained unoccupied even though places were set at each. I figured that one place was for the abbess, but I wasn’t sure for whom the other seat was reserved. (Another question for my list.) Before we served the food, Sister Sara led us in a lengthy prayer. At her close I quickly and quietly added my own, “Dear God, please help me sort out this mess.”
As we passed around the dishes, I ladled small servings onto my plate for two reasons. One, I’m not much of a fish-eater, so the main course didn’t appeal to me. Even the mashed potatoes and green beans looked plastic. And two, my nerves were still reacting to the dream. I really hate how something so unreal can impact me for hours, sometimes a whole day, even though I keep telling myself, “It’s not real; it’s not real. It was just a dream.”
I knew I needed to eat something just so I could maintain some stability in my mood. I learned that lesson long ago. So, I managed to force down a few forkfuls of each fare. The women seated around me probably thought I was some type of mental patient because I said nothing and just smiled here and there, probably not even at the right moments, but I had neither the desire nor the energy to engage in small talk. Unsure of the protocol regarding when we could leave the table, I waited until one of the nuns got up before I excused myself, which caused a few stares from some of the guests. I didn’t know whether it was the fact that I spoke or that I was leaving before everyone else. I didn’t stay for the verdict.
I needed to find the library, which turned out to be just a few doors down from the dining hall. Surprisingly the abbey’s library outrivaled our local one back home. Reading must be a favorite past time here. There were at least ten stacks of fiction, and thirty dedicated to non-fiction. What I didn’t know was where to start. And asking the librarian seemed out of the question. Once I explained to her my problem she’d probably divert my attention and then run to find the local psychologist. Searching the computer was out. No technology, only the old card-catalogue system. I looked at the ancient filing case, which brought me back to my elementary school days, and pulled open the top drawer, unleashing a musty scent that reminded me of my grandmother’s attic. The reminiscing triggered related thoughts of homemade chocolate chip cookies and the constant click-clacking of my grandmother’s knitting needles, but a cough from somewhere behind me, unfortunately, brought me back to the present.
I closed the drawer and sat in a nearby seat. I needed a plan and opening every drawer and reviewing every card entry was not the most efficient one. So I considered what I knew. I knew it all started with the glasses, and Sister Sara identified the first person I saw as Prometheus, a Greek god. And from what I remembered, the Greek myths contained many a bizarre character, like Cronus who swallowed his children whole and Medusa whose hair resembled a snake pit. The three-headed woman in my next vision who walked a three-headed dog, and the three-headed monster in my dream could easily fit into the peculiar category. Perhaps all these visions connected somehow to Greek mythology. At least it was a place to start.
I approached the card catalogue a bit more confidently this time and pulled out the drawer for Gr – Gy. I found multiple titles concerning Greek Myths, but I decided to narrow my search to the illustrated ones. I needed pictures to speed the process along. The cards indicated the library owned several of these picture books, and I hoped at least one of them was on the shelf.
Turns out, they all were. I pulled four of them off the shelf and took them over to a nearby table. Thinking the largest book contained the most pictures I started with The Illustrated Greek Mythology, about the size of a small suitcase, and just flipped through its pages. An image caught my attention as its page fell onto the next. So, I thumbed slowly through the previous pages until I found, just like in the glasses, a picture of a three-headed woman in a flowing gown, walking a three-headed dog. Several pounds of worry just fell to the ground.
Since I’d been standing up until now, I pulled up a seat and began reading about this woman/goddess named Hecate. I wanted to take notes, but realized I had neither pen nor paper, but I remembered seeing some half-sheets and pencils near the card-catalogue. With those in hand I went back to the book and noted the following:
· Goddess of the crossroads
· aka the Moon Goddess, Goddess of the Underworld
· Ruled over earth, sea and sky
· Could see the past, present, and future
· Appears when the moon shines.
· Also reputed evil witch?
· Often portrayed with three heads – dog, horse, and lion!!!
More pounds shed. Okay, so I still didn’t know exactly what the vision meant, but considering Hecate stood at the crossroads, I suspected she represented some decision I’d have to make in the near future regarding what direction I needed to take. Sister Sara said Prometheus, my first vision, symbolized my need to sacrifice or relinquish something. Now, the way I saw it I had three questions for the abbess, which I wrote on the back of my paper:
· What should I relinquish?
· What crossroads will I face?
· What’s with the handsome young boy?
Since I wouldn’t be meeting with the abbess until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest, I replaced the books on the shelf, returned to my room, prepared for bed and slept a deep and dreamless sleep.