Digital Berean

The Cylinder: An Allegory on Life and Death

The Cylinder

I woke up sweating. My mind racing trying to remember every sight, smell, and sound from the scenes that seemed to project in my head for what seemed like hours. I wiped some of the sweat from my brow and sat up in bed to take a few deep breaths. I could feel my pulse racing. I was experiencing so many different feelings. Was it panic? No, more of an excitement and awe that makes you sit and think about everything you’ve just experienced to try and dissect the meanings of every little element.

I don’t dream very often, but when I do it is like a surreal experience. All of my senses are in overdrive. Can you smell a dream? Apparently, I can. I can still smell that odd odor of metal. You know, like the smell of a new dime or quarter. It’s a strange smell, and that’s what makes it memorable. Oh and the sounds! Clanking and banging of what could only be described as a thousand steel pieces hanging from a huge wind chime hitting against one another. There was also this rubbing sound like millions of flint pieces scratching against one another - sometimes in unison and sometimes in a cacophony of dissonance.

In my dream I was high up in a structure that resembled a cathedral. It was beautiful with rows and rows of connected seats that looked like fish gills from my elevated point of view. Was I floating high above near the ceiling? It was hard to tell. No, now that I think more about it, I was standing. It was a balcony I was on. I had the entire section to myself, but it felt so much higher in the air than any balcony I’ve ever been on. I had such an amazing view. In fact, I could see every one of those funny connected rows of seats all facing in one direction.

There were symbols on the walls of this place. (When you wake up from one of these types of dreams you forget some of the things you see in the dream and it seems the more you try and remember the farther those elements drift away in your mind.) So, I don’t recall all the details, but I do remember this one symbol at the front. It was a tree. But this tree was odd looking. It looked dead. It had no leaves on it and only two branches, each growing out from the opposite side. There was a small hole at the very top of the tree. There were larger ones on the ends of the two branches and one near the bottom of the base. There was also a dark red stain over most of the tree, but I remember seeing it more predominate on the ends of the branches and near the base. I was too far away to make out all the details, but I remember something like a small wooden plate at the top of the tree with four strange letters. It looked like that plate originally fit in the hole at the top. I’m not sure what type of language these people spoke in this building, but if I were to try and speak those four letters in English it would be something like, ‘HENRI’. Did they dedicate that tree to someone with that name?

While I was studying this strange tree I heard a noise from below. I couldn’t see anything but I heard what sounded like steel rollers clumsily plodding along on a granite floor. It got louder and louder until I could see what looked like a metal cylinder. It was made of a beautiful metal that I had never seen before. It had carvings all over it. I couldn’t make out what the designs were, but I remember that they were all around the cylinder from top to bottom and from side to side. In the center of the cylinder, I saw an image of a tree engraved that looked just like the dead tree at the front of the cathedral.

The cylinder moved at a slow pace until I saw two figures behind it who were pushing it along. They both were clad with what looked like armor made of the same material as the cylinder. I surmised that there was some kind of platform underneath the cylinder with wheels. One of the figures had his head down weeping, while the other had his head up singing. They walked in perfect unison pushing the cylinder slowly down the center of the cathedral taking what seemed like hours. They reached the front and turned the cylinder to its side. I was able to see the intricate markings on one side of this vessel. There appeared to be words on the side. I was too far away to make out the entire sentence, and my mind seems to have forgotten all of the details of this dream, but I remember the words, ‘death’ and ’sting’. I wanted so much for those two figures to turn the cylinder around so I could gaze at the other side, but they had already moved away. One moved to the left and sat down crying loudly. The other sat down to the right and was singing with joy. It was an odd thing to see. The whole scene just felt strange and other-worldly. How can there be tears of sorrow and melodies of joy at the same time? What did this mean?

Those two figures sat there for a while. At first, I thought this must be some kind of strange ritual. I was trying to figure out the meaning of it all, when from the right side of the building another figure entered that caught my attention. He was carrying several large objects. They must have been rather heavy because he had to stop and re-gather them in his arms several times. He was wearing the same kind of armor that the first two figures had on. After he made his way to the cylinder, one-by-one he set down the objects on the floor all around it. As he set each one down the distinct sound of heavy metal hitting hard marble echoed through the cathedral. It was a sound I will never forget. The echoes of those sounds were almost like a rhythmic accompaniment to the two soloists. The figure laid the last piece down and then walked the aisle and sat near the back on one of the connected seats. He bowed his head and became still and quiet. Was he meditating? Why wasn’t he making any noise like the two up front?

I looked back at the cylinder to try and get a better view of the objects that were now placed carefully at its base. I squinted my eyes to get a better view and after focusing a bit I made out what appeared to be armor. Yes, it was the same kind of armor the other figures were wearing! I saw a helmet, shield, boots and even a long, broad sword. There was also a belt, a chest covering and a small tablet. Strangely, I could make out the letters on the tablet. Each letter seemed to glow with a faint golden light. On the front of the tablet was written, ‘prosukomy’. It was strange letters again — but these were different from those written at the top of the tree. I noticed also that all the armor seemed to be made of the same metal as I had seen before. It was as if it were made of materials that were not of this world. They glowed but at the same time they were terribly dented and scarred. They had marks all over them. There was no doubt that whoever wore the armor had been through fierce battles against terrible enemies. I could only surmise that the armor belonged to whoever either owned the cylinder or was in it. Was I witnessing some type of funeral rite? I still couldn’t quite determine what I was watching in this dream.

I looked back down and the two first figures were still crying and singing. The third figure was still silent and motionless with his head bowed in what I can only describe as beautiful reverence. I leaned forward over the edge of the balcony to try and see if there was anything under the balcony. It was dark, so I couldn’t make out much. However, just as I was about to straighten up I heard the most beautiful sound coming from the front near the tree. It was a simple sound like a flute, but more powerful and complex. Whatever this instrument was it produced a celestial pattern of sounds that melded together into chords of beauty. I noticed that the crier and the singer were now both singing along to this tune. The reverent one had his head lifted, singing also while staring at the cylinder and the armor at its base. What did the music mean? How did they know the words to this song?

I then saw a stream of light run across the floor shooting from the back all the way up to the tree. I raced to the edge of the balcony to look as far back as I could to get a glimpse of what was happening. A large door was opened and shadows were cast across the floor from the light. The number of shadows began to grow exponentially. There was another sound coming from the back. At first, I could barely make it out. But as it got louder it sounded just like when the third figure placed the armor on the floor. It was a loud clanking sound like metal against metal. The sounds got louder and louder. I saw droves of figures filing in like an army. Hundreds, if not thousands of figures clad in that beautiful but scarred armor were entering the cathedral and taking their seats on the lined rows. I can still hear the sound in my mind - it was so loud and powerful that it drowned out the beautiful sounds coming from the front near the tree. I wanted it to stop. Even after all the figures came in and took their seat there was still such clanking as they shifted and moved around. What was this? Was it some kind of army battalion?

In all the noise and commotion, I was too overwhelmed to notice right away that there were some who entered the cathedral wearing no armor. They were so quiet as they entered. I took some time to scan the entire floor and noticed that the ones without armor were dressed in plush attire. They didn’t have shields, heavy shoes, a helmet or anything metal for that matter. They certainly had no weapon. I could only describe them as civilians amongst the military. I also noticed that the civilians were very talkative and they seemed to only be interested in one another. The military figures would lean over to speak to the civilians only to be laughed and mocked at for their armor. I noticed that the military all carried the same kind of tablet that was up at the cylinder. They were obsessed with this tablet and seemed to constantly look at it. The civilians also had a tablet and they were equally obsessed with it, but their tablets were made of wood and had markings completely different from the tree and the cylinder. In fact, the military all had the same mark of the tree on their tablets and their shields. The civilians, on the other hand, had what appeared to be a mark of a globe on their tablets.

I so wanted to come down from the balcony to get a better view of these figures. If only I could get a closer look at the cylinder, the armor, and that strange tree, but for some reason, I couldn’t. Maybe I saw all I needed to see from where I was high up in this cathedral.

The last thing I remember in my dream is how the military all looked tired and had battle scars. Their armor was so beautiful, but at the same time so scarred, beaten and dented. Yet, despite being so tired they all had faces like angels. They too, like the first two figures, were singing and crying. They were sorrowful yet rejoicing. I noticed that the civilians would look over at the military with faces of confusion and scorn. It was as if they could not understand anything about the military, their armor or that tablet they carried. The civilians seemed to mock the military for their mixture of sorrow and joy. The military never mocked the civilians, though. Instead, they would turn to their tablets for comfort.

I knew now that this was indeed a funeral. I watched the entire time as this interesting event wrapped up. The entire process was both sad and joyful to witness. It was also enigmatic to watch the civilians and the military. The military seemed to be from a different world - just like that strange metal. They all began to file out of the cathedral in formation the same manner they entered. It was loud, but as the last few were leaving I heard one of the warriors say to another, “He never has to wear that armor again.”

It was then that I awoke from my dream.



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Posted: 2018-08-25
Tagged: Allegory, Death, Christian Life


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