Beyond Dreaming
By Trudy Wischemann
8:06 am,
April 18, 2024
for Harumi Hirabayashi

Now it may be beyond our dreaming when we see the land divided
And re-familied by the neighbors who could keep the world from fear
But you should know it’s not our cleverness that keeps the land reforming
It’s that Wisdom beyond dreaming that returns our children here.

John Pitney
“If You Want Your Neighbor’s Land” 1991


Last week I wrote about discovering my family story inside my dream of our region repopulated by small farms, democracy restored. In the days between then and now I’ve been challenged to examine what I’m doing to bring that dream to life.

As if on cue, last weekend’s whirlwind weather provided some perspective. It was a perfect repeat of a storm we had in mid-April of 1993 on the weekend of Lindsay’s Orange Blossom Festival. I remember it clearly because I had come down from Davis to take some photographs of the vast emptiness of the Tulare Lake bed, as well as to finalize some details on the purchase of my house. Like this one, that Saturday morning was sunny and pleasant, but clouds began to form in the afternoon, the temperature dropping. I was out somewhere east of Stratford, where vestiges of earlier farms and crossroad bars showed that more people had lived there years before. Just as I snapped a shot of a homeless farm, the wind came up and told me to run for cover. I headed for Lindsay barely in front of the gale, and parked in the driveway of the house that was not yet mine. I slept there that night in my old Datsun station wagon, which I had prepared to do. But living here was still a dream, and what work I would do here was pure imagination.

So this Saturday, as the Orange Blossom parade broke up and the beautifully-mounted horses clip-clopped by my house, always a thrill, followed later by frigid wind and rain that scraped dead palm fronds from the trees, I realized that dream had come true in many ways. I’m here, I followed inaudible instructions that made little sense to anyone else, and one day at a time I’ve found ways to speak to all of us about what difference it makes whether farms are large or small. It could not have happened without the help of many people, my family included, but that’s one benefit of following a dream that’s bigger than you. Many people get to participate.

I know I was enabled (in the positive sense) by having met John Pitney, a Methodist minister from Oregon. I’ve mentioned him before, and likely will again, because that man’s faith met my faithlessness and pulled me across the great divide. In my family, church people were suspect and held at arm’s length; if we had faith, it was in ourselves and the importance of community. Occasionally we joined a church, only to find it wanting and leave. In the late sixties, my early adult years, when the Church in general supported the status quo and my generation found it couldn’t, we left in droves. Many never came back, and I think for good reason.

But John Pitney helped me see what the Bible has to say about land, which the Church in general still does not want to hear. His unabashed passion for rural life and neighborly values, for equality and harmony with the earth and its other inhabitants, released me from fear about speaking up for these things here. The real opening he provided, however, was the window on “that Wisdom beyond dreaming.” In the thirty-plus years since our first meeting, I’ve followed John’s lead into the biblical literature on land, where it’s possible to discover that America’s dream for equality and true democracy are part of God’s dream revealed through those who wrote Deuteronomy, all dependent upon equal distribution of land.

And now I’m preaching, which I never imagined, never dreamed. This coming Sunday, Earth Day, I get to bring the message of that dream to the Fresno Unitarians. It will be a different kind of resurrection message than I might speak to Mainline congregations, but the task is the same: to bring that Wisdom into the room where we can feel the reality of its presence, its existence. My hope is that we will receive its power and find ourselves moved beyond dreaming to see what we are to do, one day at a time, to make that dream real “on earth as it is in heaven,” as Jesus says in his most-repeated prayer.  

That’s a big dream, but if we hear that Wisdom beyond dreaming, we can move.

Harumi Hirabayashi was one of Lindsay’s last Japanese-American farm wives. Her graveside service is Friday, April 19 at 10 a.m.

Trudy Wischemann is a neophyte who writes, speaks and sings. You can send her your dreams c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247. This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of the Mid Valley Times newspaper.

About the Author

Trudy Wischemann
Local writer of the column ‘Notes From Home’