“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Last week, my good friend Brigita, who was back home visiting family, reached out via Skype, wanting to share her cousin Wilhelm’s dream. She believed it would convince me to let go of anger. She calls that my problem and Brigita is the type of person who wants only to help, which in itself sometimes makes me angry.
When Brigita and Wilhelm were children, she dreamed one day they would marry. Now she says she can hardly stand him. According to Brigita, he’s become a womanizer and a cad. When he visited her here in the states a few years ago, she paid for his every entertainment and washed his every dish, or so she said.
Still, she was driven to share Wilhelm’s dream with me. For her it was no mere dream; she called it a vision. “A warning,” she said, “for you.” Her pale skin seemed almost blue in the frosty room from which she spoke. “I’ve recorded it all right here, in English, on my phone. It’s your own future if you don’t change.”
“OK,” I said. “I’ll listen.”
Brigita knows well I have a tendency toward self-righteousness and deep despair over the outcome of the US elections, a despair with which I can only endure by taking action, more and more action. I have marched; I have called; involved myself in repetitious discussions. Yet the newspaper headlines, which create in me the deepest anguish, go on reproducing and morphing into new more horrible realities at rapid and terrifying rates.
“Here,” said Brigita in response to my latest categorizing of the good and the bad, the sinners and sinned against. She pressed play and held the phone close to her computer’s mic.
For a moment, her face appeared to be float over a lavender sky. A painting, which hung on the far wall of the family study, glowed strangely behind her in a piercing morning light. It made Brigita seem further away than ever before; thus it was easier for me to consider Wilhelm’s words.
Suddenly––his voice. I’d met him exactly once. Indeed, we’d flirted. He’d bought me drinks with what turned out to be Brigita’s money. But the voice travelling via routes I only barely understand––is it via satellites up in the heavens or via cables under the sea––sounded more settled than I remembered. Sand in a masculine throat. A seductive forceful sound but for his accent, which was thick, and had me recalling, if only fleetingly, the Muppet character Swedish Chef. After that particular neural pathway was carved, everything Wilhelm said sounded like half prophecy half joke. An experience I could never share with my friend Brigita.
I will now transcribe Wilhelm’s words as best a Skype connection, her phone’s recording function, and my own memory allow.
“Well, if you insist.” I heard him say. “I will tell it again. Say to your friend hello. Yes. I remember her. Hello friend.”
“Stop it,” Brigita interrupted. “It’s not for that. Not everyone falls for your charms.”
Wilhelm sighed. Already my heart softened; I listened more intently. Brigita can be unnecessarily stern, and thus I was naturally on Wilhelm’s side.
“Okay,” Wilhelm continued. “So it was two weeks ago. I waited for Yvonne to return to bed. Half-asleep. Yes. Overcome by this strange, well, dream. Yes, a dream I will call it because I was half slept.”
“Your vision,” Brigita replied. “It’s a holy vision Wilhelm, nothing less. And when visions arise it’s time to chase the women from your bed not wish for their return.”
“My wife, Brigita. Yvonne is now my wife.”
“I haven’t met her yet, and so you say.”
Wilhelm groaned but continued. “So, I waited. Yvonne, who you will meet, was somewhere down the hall. But I must have been asleep. Then, like a dream, I saw, no, felt myself rise over a crowd of––um––people, many people. Lifted heavenward. So, this must be a dream, no? A feeling of being lifted heavenward over a sea of, hmm, humanity below me? Yes! Humanity. The word I look for. A float sensation. Then I was given golden armor. Do you know about this? Remember? Oma’s icons. St. George and the Dragon? But it was me, of all people, lifted into heaven, given the golden sword, a helmet, a shield. No harm could be done me, I knew. I tell you, the light of heaven shone upon me. Then, down on a battlefield I went with heaven’s rays over me. I saw I was twice, no 10 times the size of other men. My men. Soldiers doing battle. Slewing enemies. Banners blew all around us, like in a movie, and horses kicking dust. We sliced through them all, enemy hordes at every side. Mountains of men. Horses too, falling. They made mountains around us. Soldiers climbed corpses to fight, going heavenward on the enemy’s back. My men they too cut down at times, but we were winning. I was sure of it. The light on me was strong. The enemy arriving. I slaughtered, wielded my sword in a glorious light. A brutal battle, yes. Losses on all sides, but while the slaughter continued, I held not one doubt. Our cause, my cause––a righteous one. No question. It was easy to kill. I did it easily. Then, suddenly, the fighting stopped. We––no––I had won. No one left to slaughter. The enemy at our feet. All their bodies broken. Survivors, my army, me, we should be rejoicing, no? The light dissipated. I felt this horrible awakening. The golden sky it was cloudless and gray. For a moment, I stood alone on that field, Brigita, surrounded by carnage, which was my inheritance. The bloody field––my prize. The world as I had known it, everyone I could have ever loved wiped from Earth. My soldiers and me, we had made a new world, and we stood upon its foundation. The bodies underfoot. All that loss that was our victory, a terrible victory. Yes our enemy defeated, but loss that’s what we’d won. Our brothers; our family; our humanity gone in the fighting. I understood then, God was on our side because God is on all sides at once. God goes where we go, Brigita. We cannot be without God. This is why we must be careful. Go where ever we go with love, so the world we create will be beautiful in his––”
“In her,” Brigita interrupted.
“Yes. All the Gods. So the world will be beautiful in Gods’ sight, we must go with love, Brigita. Do you understand?”
“Yes, of course. I understand! It’s why I’m recording. Do you understand? From now on, you are meant to lead a chaste life.”
“Oh, Brigita. I’m not sure you do understand. There is nothing wrong with sensuality. We have these bodies––
“Is that what you call it sensuality when you lie to women, when you make them cry?”
“I never lie, Brigita. I…”
But she huffed in such a way he shut up. He took a breath. “I am not sure you understand this,” said Wilhelm, “this dream I had.” Years of the cousin’s old enmity leaked into his voice and then a whiff of an old flirtation too. “Your friend, she will understand?”
“My friend,” said Brigita, more cross than I have ever heard. “She will hear your vision, and if she is smart she will make good use of it. But you should be given no credit for having it. It only passed through you, Wilhelm. Don’t go thinking it means anything special about you.”
The voices suddenly stopped.
On my screen, Brigita’s face frozen in a less than beautiful state. I waited for the technology of the ages to catch up with time itself. For surely in that other far off place, Wilhelm had gone on talking and Brigita would have had something more to say to me about her cousin Wilhelm’s dream.
Briefly the Skype connection sputtered back to life. Momentarily, Brigita’s face bounced about the screen, appearing first on one side then the next, but I couldn’t understand a word she said. The pace of her voice was out of sync with the movement of her lips.
“Brigita,” I called out. “Say nothing. I can’t hear you.” Once again that face of hers froze in place, but this time the frosty room’s light shone upon her just so. The painting framed her head in such a way that she looked like a painting herself. She was my Brigita. Lit up with urgent love for me and, I suppose, and for Wilhelm too. She was a pleasure to look at, glowing in a distant light. I took my breath and waited and adored.
*A note to readers. This story, like all stories is based on some truth. Brigita leaped into my consciousness some time ago and Wilhelm soon followed. They help me explore things that might otherwise be difficult write about and share.