“Well, is the house still there?” she asks in the morning, rubbing sleep from her eyes. Yes, I think, it’s there: the universe holds together. This morning, as every morning: the house, the street outside, the house across the street: their lives, our lives. What more assurance, what greater truth, can we ask for?

But in the house of dreams I wandered without direction, and the street was broken, and the house across the way lost in shadow and these lives were strangers’ lives and the only truth was fear. Fear, like some thick white paste joining the fragments of memory, refusing to harden into one nightmare form, but changing always into new shapes: loss, illness, betrayal.

Do I open my eyes and somehow dissolve all that, as these same dreams dissolved the reality of my waking world — or is this holding together of nature, this ongoing Creation, something as fearful as it is wondrous? Eternal damnation is as real as eternal bliss. In the long night of the soul, OM is a howl, and in all the golden temples of the Earth — Dachau and Auschwitz, My Lai and Hiroshima­ — lives mutilated beyond understanding stare dumbly at the banner raised high above the altar: Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Of what did the Buddha dream, and rising in the morning, did he think, too, how perfection is the measure of everything: this house, this street?

Of what did the Christ dream, high upon the cross of his imaginings, and rising unto heaven did he wonder how suffering is the measure of our perfection: these lives, these deaths?

Of what shall I dream, and which direction, through this awesome landscape of wonder and fear, shall I choose today? I begin with the house I am sure of. And then the street outside. And then, forever.