It’s morning. I walk downstairs and find a note taped on the glass door leading to the back porch. It’s a rectangle of construction paper, dull, dusty black. The note says “Elaine” in silver ink in my dead husband Vic’s handwriting.
I look out the window, beyond the porch and across the yard, and see Vic digging a deep hole in rich dark soil. A round bushel basket sized planter on the back porch steams with compost.
Vic sees me and yells, “The soil is hot and fertile.” I’m overjoyed to see him happy, healthy, and strong.
The joy stays as I lie in my warm bed. He hasn’t visited in dreams recently and I miss him. “He’s still my Green Man,” I say to myself. “My Honey Man, the fertile masculine, both departed and here, gone and present, dead and alive, and always within me. His note tells me to pay attention to something that wants to grow.
The note grabs my attention. It’s the color of rich compost. The silver ink makes me think of the feminine moon and lunar reflection. Elaine, wake up to this new and still unconscious possibility.
“Elaine, this rich soil will grow anything. Elaine, what should we grow? Elaine, I’m digging so you can plant. Elaine, I’m dead but I’m still here.”
Every day I recognize Vic as both gone and here. How is he here? People try to pin me down. “He’s right here with you? Don’t you know that? He’s guiding you and guarding you. Don’t you feel that?” Somehow I’m comfortable with the mystery of gone and here without more explanation.
In his last hours, I felt Vic leaving, moving fast as he gasped for air like a long distance runner, waiting for our youngest son to arrive before he surrendered to death. He didn’t seem to hover or hang around after that. I didn’t feel him near, at least not in body. I heard the words of the Heart Sutra:
“Gone. Gone beyond. Gone totally beyond. Oh, what an Awakening.”
In this compost dream, Vic is here and very alive, still my Green Man and Dream Man, preparing the earth for new life. Flower and vegetables? Butterflies and bees? An inner awakening in me? No controlled straight-edged rows in this Green Man’s garden. Just black rich soil..
My Green Man invites me to join in the delight of seeding new possibility. The dark soil flies and I smell the fertile steaming earth.
Just 11 days after Vic’s death, almost 13 years ago, I dreamed I would live in the house of the Green Man and painted this image of my experience. The Green Man still lives within me and gives me firm footing.
What needs to grow?
I don’t know the answer to my last question. Similar to here and gone, I live with the opposites in the dream mystery. It’s a mystery I don’t need to solve, but it might solve itself in time.
Do you find dreams meaningful or do you have other ways of accessing your inner self through creativity or play? The poet Deborah Gregory wrote a poem dedicated to Vic and me called The Goddess and Her Green Man. I hope you’ll enjoy many of her poems once you visit her website. For a detailed article about my Green Man dream, see The Green Man’s Guide to Life or my book Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief.