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Patricia Lacey: The Meaning of a Dream

How dreams can provide practical guidance for life

Patricia is an English Subud member who was opened in Coombe Springs in 1957, in the "early days" when Subud first arrived in the West. Here she tells of guidance coming to her in a dream with results which not only profoundly affected her own life, but also the lives of hundreds of other people.

After twelve years of marriage, I had to separate from my husband. He was schizophrenic and an alcoholic. I always hoped that things would change, but finally I felt they never would. I felt any spiritual growth would be thwarted and made the decision to leave.

I came back to England. I felt lost and sad. One always hopes one's marriage will work out and I was very fond of Richard. I hadn't had a job for twenty years. I was forty-two. I had three hundred quid to my name. I wrote to Bapak who told me to stay in England and find something "to make your heart happy".

I worked for a while in a nursery school, but I was still looking for a direction and then I had a dream which was very beautiful and left a deep impression on me.

The dream began with my asking the question: "But what is my proper work?" With this I head a voice say: "Receive." I then began to do my latihan in my dream and my arms were raised above me in worship of God, and I was singing as I do in latihan. At this moment I heard my sister say in the dream: "Shush, Patricia, they will hear you", and I replied: "Be quiet, this is my latihan, and I am receiving what I should do."

I then saw I was sitting on a haystack, surrounded by what seemed to be people of all nationalities, Chinese and Africans and Indians, but when I looked more closely, it was as if they all turned into Indians. Then I heard a voice say: "You must now go through the world, telling and showing everyone that there is a brotherhood of man, and that we do love each other, and there is no colour prejudice. Begin..."

With this all the Indians from the haystack and I began to dance and float through the air, singing very beautifully, like in latihan.

The dream was so vivid and left such an impression on me that I felt happy for weeks afterwards.

When I tried to understand this dream, I could not see any relationship to my work. Its significance seemed to me that the latihan was the most important thing, and my work secondary, so I felt that if I did the latihan I would eventually see in what direction I must go. A few weeks later when I was telling some friends about the dream, I suddenly remembered that Bapak had said the colour brown is a combination of all the other colours, bringing about harmony and inner understanding. I then thought that perhaps when things were harmonised in me through the latihan, I would understand where my proper work lay.

A few weeks later, a woman from my old nursery school rang and said: "Patricia, you've been recommended to start a nursery school in Kentish Town and we wondered if you'd like to come for an interview."

I said: "No, thank you very much. It's very sweet of you, but I'm not interested."

Three days later she rang again and said: "I've been asked to ring you again. This is not just to start another nursery school. It's to work with Africans, West Indians, Pakistanis and Chinese who are coming here as immigrants. We want to try and integrate them into the community so they're not living in isolated pockets. It's primarily a nursery school, but with parent cooperation and parent activities like language classes and, if it's successful, we plan to start more."

So then the penny dropped! Oh God, my dream! I went to see the committee who asked me a lot of questions. They said: "If we offered you this job, how long would you stay?" "If you're thinking of eight or nine years, forget about it," I said. "I'll give you a couple of years if you like." They offered me a piddling salary which I refused. They asked: "What kind of salary would you like?" I told them and they said: "OK, we'll let you have that. When can you start?"

I started the first nursery in a big church hall down the road. There were thirty kids in the morning and thirty in the afternoon. The policy was to have multi-ethnic staff, so there was an Indian girl, West Indian and an English girl. There were parents at each session, one English and one ethnic parent else, so that the newcomers could learn the language and learn about each other. Out of those contacts grew many things.

They had cooking classes from all around the world. One of the English mums said: "I'm sick of the same old food day in and day out. Why can't we learn some different foods?" They did this cooking every week. I thought, great, now I'm going to have some fabulous meals. Not on your nelly. At 4:30 p.m. they all sat down and ate the Chinese food or Indian food or whatever. I never got any.

All this was very new for England. We weren't used to immigrants. We started language classes. We had a youth club for the older kids. We took them on expeditions all over London and the country. We taught them how to cope with travelling in and around London.

After I'd been running that one for about six months, my committee asked me to start some more. I had a little van which became known all over the area. The police knew me, all the kids knew me, parents for miles, social workers, doctors and the local council, with whom I worked closely.

I'd go to an area where I knew there were a lot of immigrants and I'd look for a suitable building to convert. I worked closely with health and social services. They gave me lists of mums with kids who were living in very poor and confined conditions and I'd go and tell them what we were doing. The immigrants who were shy and reluctant I'd pick up in my little van and take them to the building to show them the nursery and what we were doing. If they didn't speak the language I would take an interpreter, and soon they would be installed and interested.

I started about ten of these centres over a period of six years. Everywhere I went it was as though the power of God was working to help me develop these projects. When I investigated a building, the caretaker would say: "You won't get this building to do that."

I'd say: "Thanks very much, but who's the owner anyway?" In two weeks or so I'd have negotiated and had the planning permission to go ahead. Social Services and the Medical Officer of Health in the area would say: "I don't know how you get these halls, because we've been looking in these areas for the last two years."

It was just like that, just like a gift. I had no preconceived ideas of what I was going to do, no ambition, no plan to be successful, just went from day to day, with one idea from day to day, and that's how it all grew, organically. I was given the grace, though I never thought of it consciously at the time; only later did I realise it.

Of course it was hard work, but I didn't have to fight for any of it, everything just grew in a natural way. A funny thing is that all during this time I used to be woken up at four thirty, the time of prayers, the first call to prayer in the Muslim faith. I wasn't a Muslim and didn't even know about it at this time, but I knew it was something special, and used to sit quietly for ten minutes or so before beginning my paper work for the day, or finances that needed doing. Sometimes my best work, creative and practical, was done at this time. It was a very special time, beautifully quiet, and one's mind was crisp and clear. Later I would go to the building where we were creating the nursery school, and could get through so much preparations before staff would come at nine o' clock, or before telephones began to crackle and disturb the special quiet.

This carried on for the five years of the development of these nurseries, and later Bapak told us in his talk that to get up at four-thirty is a very special time for prayer, and to help us with our work, or if we need money, or to get on in life. He said to get up then would always help us, and even said: "We need never be poor, if we get up early!"

Later I saw he also advised people who were depressives to get up then too. So how lucky for me I was given the grace.



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