My friend and mentor Father Richard Mapplebeckpalmer once asked me, as I was describing problems in my life, “If your life were a dream that you were having, what would the dream mean?”
This story of Jacob is the most hallucinatory of the pieces in this book. Taking place entirely in the dream world, it inverts the usual structure of reality and views Jacob’s real life as a dream that his dream self is having.
The elements in the dreamworld come from Jacob’s real life. The ladder, the wrestlers, the caves, the mottled goats, Rachel’s weeping, all figured in his Biblical events. The skin that pursues him comes from the skins that he put on to impersonate Esau (as referenced in this book in the story of their father Isaac).
I get the sense that Esau must have been quite forgiving to be willing to encounter Jacob again after Jacob had repeatedly betrayed him. And Jacob, if he was sufficiently self-aware, must have faced a feeling of guilt in returning to face Esau again.
This story fits into that moment, when Jacob is about to meet his brother and bury his father, and thus faces, both in reality and in dreams, the emotions that will guide him into meeting, and perhaps truly reconciling, with his brother again.
If your life were a dream that you were having, what would the dream mean? How might you interpret this dreamed reality to guide you in better understanding yourself and your world, and in leading a better life?