Adaptation: A Dream

The girls in my senior year speech class, June 2000

Wednesday night I dreamt I was back at my old high school for a class reunion. All 80-something of my fellow graduates were crammed into the basement classroom of the school’s drama teacher and play director, D, who smiled into and out of my awareness throughout the following scene. The room was warm, maybe too warm, bathed in yellow light, faces blurring in and out of focus all around me, our eyes fixed on a stage built into the room years ago.

Someone on the stage announced, through a totally unnecessary microphone, that we were each to receive an award to honor our progress since graduation. The awards would be commemorated with plaques, which excited me as I’d never received a plaque before.

The first award of the night was “For Being a Really Good Boy,” which we all assumed would go to N, who happened to be a really good boy. Instead the announcer called out the female winner of the award, E, who just laughed. Not because of the name of the award, but because of the name on it- her maiden name.  Through her laughter she explained she has a new last name now and that she didn’t need or want the plaque. N didn’t seem to mind, but then, I suppose a “really good” anyone wouldn’t get too ruffled about something like that.

Fast-forward to the “Philotheology” award. I was able to dream-see the list of names of the 10 or so people who were to receive plaques confirming growth in the recipients’ love of the study of God. To my great delight I saw my name was on the list! But for some reason every name was read off except mine. Plaque after plaque was handed over to one eager recipient after another, but never to me.

One of my greatest fears is people will see me, my life, my actions, my choices, and be turned off from God because they’ll see what a hypocrite I am. That they’ll think my faith is false, my beliefs a sham. That they’ll turn down God and look to my life as the turning point in making such a decision.

I wish my dreams were harder to decipher sometimes. Welcome to my transparency.

“On Fortune’s cap we are not the very button.” Hamlet, II ii

One plaque remained to be handed out, and as there was one other girl left who also hadn’t yet received anything I assumed it was hers.

It wasn’t. It was mine.

The announcer spoke:

“For Ruth, the “Adaptability” Award!”

“Adaptability Award?” I asked. “What does that even mean?”

“It’s an award recognizing your history of being able to change directions quickly and meet new needs.

I half believed this description might really fit.

I took the plaque from their hands. It was a 5″ x 8″ x 1″ , rough edged piece of pine, its face shining beneath a kitsch-thick layer of high gloss shellac. There was no writing on the plaque, nothing to indicate what it was or who it was for. The only defining feature was a ridged, wooden button glued near the top of the face, just left of center. It looked like a doorknob, or a pull handle for opening something small.

I turned the plaque over and over in my hands, hoping to find some detail I’d missed, some sign that whatever it is I have means something, has some value. I know it does. I just wish I could prove it. And that I knew what to open.

And then I woke up.



  1. I love that first part. I can’t count the times I’ve felt the same way–that I hope my life isn’t a major stumbling block to seekers. We can only do our best, and hope God makes up for our messes, I remind myself, but it still echoes.

    Mi amiga, remember the best part–Your name was on THE LIST! YAY! Don’t worry if everyone “gets you” or not, your name is ON THE LIST! We all have our different ways to show the Light, and you have adapted to shine it wherever you happen to be, it would seem. Keep doing that.

    Here’s my take on the pine board. IMHO, of course. Beneath all the “shellac,” you’re still a girl with a mission, plain and simple. You uncovering that mission (or living up to it), even if it’s just a straight-up reminder that you ARE to shine the Light, is the challenge. The award is there because you’re gifted in this area (adapting), the knob is on it because you have the potential/choice to hone in on your gifting and use it to its maximum potential to fulfill your mission. Open the little door. You can take the girl out of the mission field, but you can’t take the mission field out of the girl. Do your thing, gal, no matter where you are. (PS-Thanks for sharing. It made my day to be on the short list….)

  2. Interesting post. I dream of school, too. From both sides of the desk, as I was a teacher in a former life. But you are adaptable, and that’s good. Thanks for the encouraging letter to me yesterday.

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