Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Dream

Just because everything's changing
Doesn't mean it's never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye
You'll come back when it's over
No need to say goodbye. –Regina Spektor

                I have a lot of strange dreams. Sometimes they are awesome; sometimes they are terrifying. Often they are hysterically, ridiculously funny or totally random and make about as much sense as your average Adventure Time episode. Considering that my brain is stuffed with years of literature and movies and simple everyday experiences, plus a few major events that range from glorious to comic to tragic, I suppose the overflow into my unconscious mind is to be expected. Thus, I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure most of  my dreams out.But on Thursday night I had one that seemed...different. One of the few dreams I have had where I felt that God may have been trying to tell me Something.

                It began with a newscast on television, an announcement that a storm of Biblical proportions was coming. With one week at the most to prepare, scientists and engineers were frantically trying to design a vehicle that could convert from a car/bus/truck/trailer to a sort of ship or boat. This would, they hoped, save thousands, perhaps millions of lives. With dark warnings that people needed to gather up “every living creature” along with their most prized possessions and enough food and water to last several months, the newscasters told us to purchase these vehicles as soon as they were perfected. My husband bought one big enough for the five of us, plus my mom and sisters and some friends. His brother bought one also and so did most of our friends and neighbors. Some, however, refused to believe it was really going to happen, despite our desperate attempts to convince them.

                Soon a caravan was assembled, with our vehicle in the lead, my brother-in-law’s just behind and three more behind his, filled with various people dear to us. Everyone had their pets and their family photos and the other little things that we cherish and deem irreplaceable. Our bus, and one other, had horse trailers attached which would also float. Legend and his pasture mate, Ghost, were safely stowed in the trailer with their hay and feed and water, and Alyssa had carefully arranged the cages and aquariums that house our rabbits, guinea pig, rat, turtle, and fish. Of course all of the dogs, six to be exact, and my mother’s Siamese CAT were on the bus with us. As we prepared to pull out, our pastor leaned in the window and said, “If you need me, I’ll come alongside.” His vehicle was, of course, filled with his own family and many church members and a menagerie of animals. It was so comforting to know that our spiritual shepherd was there for his flock.

                As we started on the journey to an unknown destination-we had just been told to “Head north”- we stayed in contact via cell phone. But then the predicted rain started to fall, and within hours it was bucketing down and rising on all sides. We converted our vehicle to ship mode as did the others in our convoy, and soon we were cut off from all communication with them as one by one cell phone towers were knocked out. I, in the meantime, was looking frantically for Tony. “Mom, I’m here,” a young man kept insisting-but he didn’t look like Tony. Finally my husband reassured me that it was indeed Tony, and I believed him, but I could not figure out why I didn’t recognize my own son. As we fought to stay on course amid the rough waters, I suddenly heard a voice. It sounded like my dad, but I knew it was the voice of God. “It’s going to be rough in places, “ He said, “but don’t worry. I’m here with you.”

                In the final scene of this dream, which seemed to go on for hours but was probably only ten minutes or so, Raina came to the front of the bus and said, “Dad, I need some help with the horses.” He turned to me and said, “I’ll only be gone for a little while; you take over.” My first response was, “I can’t; I can’t do this,” but he left anyway and I was steering on my own. Only-I wasn’t on my own. The voice spoke again, my dad’s voice that was really my Heavenly Father, and He said, “Just stay strong and keep going straight. Don’t go to the left or the right. Keep looking ahead.” In the next moment, I saw in the sky the face of a huge lion, and then there was a brilliant flash of light and someone gasped, “There He is!” and I woke up with tears on my face.

                So what does this mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe it only represents my hopes and my secret fears. Maybe I’ve read too many fantasy novels and mixed them all up with the Bible. There are five different interpretations of the book of Revelation that are generally accepted as being possibly correct, and all of my life I have heard the story of Noah’s Ark and heard terms like “the Rapture” and “The Second Coming.” My beloved childhood preacher, Pierre Burns, held to the same philosophy about Revelation that my father did. “All I know,” he said, “is that the good guys win.” I’ve read the wonderful novels of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and of course I am a rabid fan of C.S.Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Add in a dose of good old hellfire and brimstone preaching from my very earliest memories in the Baptist church, mix in some “Star Trek”, a lot of imagination, and plenty of philosophical discussions with family and friends and students that include time travel, the nature of reality, etc., and yeah, the mind can come up with some pretty cool stuff that manifests in dreams.

                A couple of details stood out to me, though, that are significant on a personal level. First there is the voice. My idea of God for my whole life has been that he was just like my daddy, only lots bigger. This is a perception that I have not truly outgrown, although I know now that he He is much bigger in other ways besides the physical. But I also know that my dad is more alive now than ever, in that heavenly realm that is much closer than we think. I am still guided many times by his wisdom, by the things that I recall him saying or the way he handled particular situations. Maybe I need to go back and think about what he would have said or done more often than I actually do, along with asking what Jesus/God says about things through the Scriptures. Maybe I am in danger of straying from the course He has set out for me.

                A second thing was my failure to recognize my child. This has bothered me since I awoke from the dream but I think that perhaps it is because the Tony I know now is not the Tony he will become. I have watched for eight years this child’s struggles and triumphs and I know that ultimately he will have the victory, because he loves God. Maybe his choices do not always show this, but I know it to be real and true. Thus, the Tony I saw in my dream was the REAL one, the one who has overcome it all.

                Thirdly, there was this whole idea of going it alone, without my husband. That scared me, but I need not read anything dark into it. I believe that God is telling me, not that something WILL happen, but that I could handle it if it DID happen. I could handle it because God would still be there and I would never be alone. I need to know that. I worry too much about possibilities and what-ifs. I need to relax. My God is in control and he will NEVER leave or forsake me.

                The final thing that really stood out was the idea that Pastor Jesse can be trusted to come alongside. He is not perfect because he is human. I know not to trust in any man the way I trust in God, but since the Great Betrayal several years ago I have become at best skeptical and at worst cynical regarding the integrity of pastors and clergy. What God is saying is this: most of them are men of God who do their best. Don’t worship them, but at least give them some of your trust. Even those who have wronged others probably started out with the best of intentions and need to be, yes, forgiven.

                On the apocalyptic nature of the dream, I can only speculate. I doubt that it was prophetic in the sense of there being some cataclysmic event; God promised that He would never send another actual global flood. I think it was simply a metaphor for my journey through this earthly life, with the promise of Something Grand at the end. The face of the Lion in the sky worked for me because I knew him to be Aslan and I know Aslan by his other Name. I do not love Aslan more than I love Jesus, because to love Aslan is to love Jesus, the Lion of Judah.The floating ship that was weathering the storm symbolizes that I and those I love will be kept safe until He calls us Home, whenever and and however that happens. And then we will ALL be known by our true Names, the Names he gave us.

                I could be overthinking this. Maybe it was just a crazy dream brought on my overindulgence in books. I am, like Jo March, too fond of books, and it has turned my head. Still, God speaks to me through those books, all kinds of books, and through movies, too, and through art and music and children and animals and trees and flowers and rivers. He speaks to me through my friends and my daily joys and struggles-so why not in a dream?  Our lives are made up of so many things, and God uses these things to help us make some kind of sense out of our lives. My life is not, as poor guilt-ridden Macbeth said, simply a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Our lives are about Something. They mean Something. The dream is mine, and I may figure out more of its importance in days to come. In the meantime, go on and dream-and follow the Light.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” –J.K.Rowling

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

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