Letters to The Remnant, 9: “Let Your Yes be Yes and Your No, No”

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

Co-Saints,

In the dream I found myself in a very large group of people. We were gathered in a school that had been converted to what appeared to be a temporary health information gathering facility.

We had each been given a large, clear plastic bag filled with multi-page forms and, of all things, a urine specimen container (weird, I thought, even in my dream).

Some people were at tables penciling in their data, others, including me, were already in the long lines to the bathrooms.

As dreams go, this scene was in media res, in the middle of the action. All I could discern was that it was a big effort and well-organized. Besides my normal irritation with filling out forms and providing biological specimens, I was irritated, no, unnerved, by the fact that nobody was talking.

Nobody was asking any questions, protesting—not even chit-chatting. They all seemed in their own worlds.

So I began reading through the forms to see if this might help me figure it all out and to see if there was an “opt out” clause anywhere. Then I awoke.

Curiously, what was front and center in my mind at the moment the surreality of the dream cleared was a fragment of Matthew 5:37 where Jesus advises: “…let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” [1].

There, Jesus was advising against taking rash oaths—to any person, place, or thing. So I thought the answer to my immediate question in the dream of why we were all here doing as presumably commanded by some unknown person might have some connection to some kind of oath, pledge, commitment, or perceived obligation.

But the dream stayed with me.

I pondered further…

JUST GO ALONG

This then got me to thinking about how many times human beings tend to go along to “get along” or because somebody or some entity insists, overtly or covertly, “this is the way.”

In the spiritual realm, I follow the directive of the prophet who originally gave that advice [2]. But in the “natural realm,” as it were, I have learned to be aware of the genesis of certain commands, to be very aware of who wants me to do what, why, when, and where, before I blindly follow someone who may turn out to be just another Pied Piper in plain clothes, whether he is on some mysterious data collection quest or working some other plan.

Not that I have never gone over some cliff of presumption or of pressure.

But I try to remember another piece of Scriptural advice, paraphrased, “understand them by their fruits” [3] before knee-jerking in response to somebody’s real or engineered urgency.

But what, I wondered, still not completely satisfied I had my full interpretation, was the larger context, here, particularly in these days of growing global pressure, not just of the peer variety, but of the societal, governmental, and/or political? What was the take-away of the dream?

I strongly suspected it meant much more in these days of powers mongering more blatantly for control–and redacting the fine print when people begin asking questions. And clever cons they are, too, those power mongers, through the use of mechanisms that make the people believe their compliance is volitional. (This reminds me of an old saying: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”)

The people, including me, in my dream seemed willing to do what was ordered/asked of them, and I didn’t know which impetus it was: an order or a request. Nevertheless there we were…complying…with no visible means of control…

Then this came to mind: how we human beings are easily duped.

Despite our cleverness, smartness, intelligence, education, human nature remains the same.

Of course, there are also those who are duped because of clever con artists who, by flashing some shiny rhetoric here, donning a sugar coat of charm there (and throwing in some “free” stuff for good measure), know they do not need to use a club to garner compliance. All they have to do is employ the best ploy money and psychological operations can buy, open wide the gates (for now), and “they will come.”

Well, most will come…and the club is always available for the others…

Oy vey.

So what, I asked, would the antidote be?

It’s what, I realize, I “heard” as I awoke. With a little elaboration for good measure.

YES? OR NO?

Ever engage in an argument with a con artist (political, social, spiritual)? A fool? A traitor?

Ever win in the end?

Maybe so but probably not.

Why?

Perhaps these verses from Proverbs 26 shed some light:

Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or you will become as foolish as they are.

Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or they will become wise in their own estimation.
(4-5)

Although they seem contradictory, a wise person knows when not to answer the fool, as arguing will only cause more grief, and when to answer the fool to set matters straight. And both are best done simply. Perhaps with either “yes” or “no,” as it were.

For as another Scripture indicates, there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7), a time to act and a time to refrain. Jesus, for example, knew when it was time to disappear from within the murderous crowd as well as when to pose questions to the posers…

So what does this have to do with weird dreams about health forms and opt out clauses and the pressure to conform to something advertised as good for you but what might not be? Just, I think, that dreams can sometimes shed light on reality and perhaps offer useful advice, if in metaphor. At least I believe this dream does.

A PLAN

My pondering ended with a kind of plan of action I thought I would share in this series, for these are the days, friends, we especially need plans. These are the days when many, it seems, legions perhaps, are out to deceive–in all realms–as never before. We need all the help we can get.

Engage at will—and at every opportunity:

  1. Observe fully,
  2. Listen carefully,
  3. Think critically,
  4. Pray, and
  5. Respond, or not, according to what wisdom you can muster.

(And beware of people requesting specimens who do not show you the fine print, first.)

***

[1] John 14:6.

[2] Isaiah 30:21

[3] Matthew 7:20

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PROUD MOM ALERT!

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

Ohhhhhhhhh yeah! Take a look! One of my TWO, AMAZING daughters has (finally) started a blog!! WOO-HOO! You will find her posts here: Continue reading

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The Christmas Soldier

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

My teen-aged niece and I were standing in line at the checkout in J.C. Penny’s yesterday when we noticed the young soldier striding toward a nearby exit. He looked like any raw-boned, young GI, clad in desert camo, ACU cap, dog tags no doubt tucked beneath his khaki T-shirt. One of many such soldiers one encounters these days in stores, restaurants, and airports Anywhere USA as the wars overseas drag on.

But what made this particular soldier stand out, dodging and weaving through the throng of holiday shoppers, was the home-made sign he grasped askew in his left hand that read, “I Love You Mom” while he checked messages on an iPhone in his other hand. Continue reading

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On Mrs. Brown, Rhubarb Pie, and (Christmas) Gifts

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

ON MRS. BROWN

Mrs. Brown was, I’d guess, in her seventies or eighties back then, during the five years my family lived across the street and down the block from her in the south end of Escanaba, Michigan.

She was also the richest lady in town, or so we heard.

I remember once getting up the gumption to peek into her garage windows where I saw gleaming wood flooring beneath her great, big, shiny Cadillac. Just then her grounds-keeper came around the corner of the house and I high-tailed it out of there. Continue reading

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From Russia with Hope–a Nabokov Christmas Gift (redux)

I have noticed of late more than the usual amount of “views” to my blog from Russia. God bless viewers from that corner of the world. Should you (or any other viewer) be in particular need this Christmas season of some comfort or encouragement, may I offer, once again, one of my favorite Vladimir Nabokov short stories. It is a story that speaks to me of the hope that may appear dead but is really only dormant…despite all appearances…”darkness” encompassing the world…awaiting only the fullness of time…

(Originally published here as “From Russia with Hope: Christmas in July,” July, 2012)

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

The short storyChristmas” by Russian author Vladimir Nabokov is a little literary gem that for me addresses the temptation to despair when grief overshadows hope whether on a stark winter’s day or some unexpected “Christmas in July.” 

Constrained with grief over the death of his young son, Sleptsov, the main character in Vladimir Nabokov’s short story “Christmas,” considers suicide. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving Story Redux

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

RE-POSTED from November 17, 2013 because I love this story. May God bless you with new insights and reasons for thanksgiving this holiday.

My brother-in-law recently shared this story. With his permission, I post it here. In a world heavy with cynicism perhaps this will lighten your heart as it did mine, this Thanksgiving season.

By Gene Taylor

stock-photo-20399839-vintage-american-truckMy mother, Rosemary, was an angry person.  She didn’t know why and that bothered her, not so much that she cared about how her anger affected others but that it was a facet of her being that she was not in control of.

The day I met the three travelers in this story my wife Nancy and I were on our way back from Reno where we had visited my mother at a very nice care facility. The Hospice folks and my wife, who also works in health care, had found a way to help Mom find peace on her death bed, which was our main concern.  The sure-fire solution for patients with anger, anxiety, depression and pain was 20 mg of morphine accompanied by 2 mg of Valium every two hours.  That med combo seemed to cure everything for Mom except for the anger. Continue reading

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Letters to The Remnant, 8: A Dream of Warning and Encouragement

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

Co-Saints,

I had a dream two nights ago that went like this.

There was a group of us, perhaps ten, riding in a van packed with food. We were going to a church picnic. It was mid-day and summertime. Hot.

As we rounded a corner on a country road winding through lovely green fields dotted with trees, we saw the bodies, perhaps two dozen, strewn about in a wide area alongside the road to about a hundred or so yards into the field.

The driver slowed the van to a stop as we all stared. Silent. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, dreams of instruction, encouragement in hard times, end times spiritual survival, letters to the remnant, most recent posts, spiritual survival, survival tools | Tagged , , | 2 Comments