Sleepers, Wake!
The Planet Earth

Sleepers, Wake!

In the dream, I'm flying. Flying high above the Planet with Raven. The blue curve of the Earth floats beneath us. I want you to see this blue. It's the color of gladness. It's the color of dreams. It's the color of Hope.

We descend into the blue, which dissolves beneath us into the green of mountain meadows, seemingly unpeopled.

As we fly lower, I notice a human figure, dressed in feathers and bark garments. Singing, with great ceremony, he pours a red liquid into a fast-running stream.

"What is he doing, Raven?"

"Go ahead and ask him." Raven cocks his head at me encouragingly.

We land at a polite distance, wait for the man to hail us, and then my question bursts forth: "Why do you pour a red liquid into the river?"

"Ahhh," says the man, "I am putting this color into the river to mark it as the property of my people. This will prevent others from claiming it, and the stream will belong only to us."

"Huhh, now I have seen everything," Raven remarks.

As we jump back into the air, he turns to me and says, "What ever happened to 'Share and share alike'?"

We fly over continent after continent. Six continents and six beaded and feathered shamans later, we have witnessed orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet liquids being poured into six more rivers. Raven keeps muttering to himself, "I don't like the looks of this!"

It was dusk now. We were flying over the ocean, approaching land. At first I thought the colors in the water were a reflection of the sunset colors, but that was before I saw the animals.

The colored rivers had created an oil slick, its rainbow colors almost pretty until I realized that the blackened and bedraggled creatures all up and down the beach — are in trouble.

But I see people, too, on the beach, working to clean and free the animals. We circle above, and then I see these are not just any people — and not just any animals.

That's van Gogh, cleaning a sunflower with fierce concentration. I'd know that yellow hat and ruddy face anywhere!

OFFSTAGE VOICE: "Nobody sees a flower — really — it is so small — we haven't time — and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time."

Wait, I know that tiny dumpling of a woman with the deep dark eyes and silvery bun. Georgia O'Keefe's beautiful hands caress a moonflower, tenderly stroking away the black oil with a paintbrush.

As we fly along the beach, I see scores of storybook creatures, covered with oil, each one being cleaned and cared for by its author.

Over there it's Marguerite Henry, struggling with a herd of wild ponies from Chincoteague.

And that animal making such a fuss over by the driftwood is Toad from The Wind in the Willows, being vigorously toweled by Kenneth Grahame with Mole and Rat.

OFFSTAGE VOICE: "If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed."

Who said that? Oh yes, I remember now. That priestly looking man over there with Badger must be Barry Lopez, and those unrecognizable creatures they're working on have to be Crow and Weasel.

Then, as we fly even further up the beach, I see that the oil has pooled in tar pits: tar pit after tar pit up the beach as far as the eye can see, with creatures struggling inside. Beside each tar pit lies a sleeping figure.

I wonder at this as we glide along this section of beach. No one is helping these creatures.

Suddenly, with a shock, I recognize creatures far more familiar than the others on the beach. No, these are creatures I know intimately: they are the ones who live inside my own dreams —

    the singing red lizard, silent now and exhausted with struggling in the sticky tar,

    an old sea turtle, blind in one eye,

    a tattered and broken sunflower,

    and a writhing raccoon.

We land on the beach near the sleeping figure I recognize as myself.

The figure seems to be wearing armor. Her helmet lies to one side. A silver-grey cat licks the crown of her head. At her feet crouches an Angel. On one side is an alembic, a gourd-shaped vessel that seems to be filled with water. On the other side is a silver flute.

As we approach, the creatures recognize me and begin clamoring, "You have to wake them up! Who will tell our stories?"

The Angel rises.

"As their stories go untold, these dream creatures sink deeper and deeper into the tar pits and are silenced. The tar pits grow ever larger."

Raven shakes his head solemnly. "Nevermore..."

Just then the Neverbird floats up in her nest, a large broadbrimmed hat.

J.M. Barrie runs past, with Tinkerbell fluttering behind. She looks at Raven and says, "Silly ass."

And I remember how Peter Pan saved her life: "Do you believe?"

We all listen. ...Silence...

I grab the alembic and run down the beach, splashing water on all the sleeping figures.

"If you believe, wake up! Tell their stories!"

The trapped creatures take up the cry.

And right before my eyes, Raven turns into Johann Sebastian Bach, and music wells up out of nowhere and suddenly all of them are singing the great cantata, Sleepers, Wake!

Sleepers, wake! and hear our voices,
The Earth and all of her children call to you —
O listen now and hear our call!

Wake, it's not too late to save us!
O tell our tales, o let our stories live!
The time has come to heal the Earth.

As Wisdom is revealed,
Our Planet will be healed through our stories.
Awaken now and sing along,
Encircling Earth with shimmering song.

Flutist Victoria Beatty dreamed this dream and wrote new words for the traditional hymn tune.

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