Spoken Incense: like the heady, purifying rush of sage

I had a dream that a council of African elders was appearing before the US Congress. 

They kept calling this meeting "spoken incense" and in the way dreams work, it was clear it meant a way of approaching a potentially confrontational meeting with good intentions. A way of listening without judging. A way of staying open to possibilities.

In my dream, Congress had a list of 30 items they wanted the African council to concede to. One elder—not necessarily the leader, for it seemed they were all equal—was enraged. He pounded his gnarled staff against the floor. "Spoken incense! Spoken incense!" he kept insisting.

The messenger from the US Congress tried to explain. "Congress wants proof that you have good intentions," he said.

The African elder pounded his staff again, furious. "Spoken incense!"

I awoke then, and realized my dream was making a play on words. The elder was incensed.

And so . . . Spoken incense is not just good-smelling smoke. It's purifying, clarifying, yes. Standing firm. Speaking the truth, with heat when needed.