Vivid, Sacred Dream
I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve been having “vivid dreams.” I write this post at 3 a.m. specifically to record one of them.
In this dream, I was at a fast food restaurant, like a McDonald’s, which I apparently owned. I had the run of the place and was as comfortable as if I were at home or in my office. It was a holiday, and the restaurant was closed. But I was there to meet my good friends Greg and Debby Chambers. We were going to share a meal together, using the dining area as our private banquet facility.
I let myself into the building and began to turn on only the necessary lights. My cell phone rang. It was Greg informing me that they were about to arrive. As I made my way toward the kitchen and turned on a light there, I saw the nose of Greg’s car. (Strangely, it was not his real-life car, nor anything at all like it. It was a bright red muscle car of some type, perhaps a 70’s model Mustang Mach I, replete with that Formula I sound of a Harley under the hood.). He was inching through the drive-through, and I realized immediately that he was going to play a prank and inform me of his arrival via the drive-through window. Being equally playful, I ducked below the window so as not be seen, thus foiling his clever plan.
As Greg found a parking space, I went to the door to let them in. They had not made it to the door (in fact, during the entire dream, I never actually saw Greg and Debby). But there was a family standing there, curiously looking about, trying to figure out why the restaurant was closed. I explained that we were closed for the holiday. The father expressed understanding, but asked if they might use the bathroom since they had stopped there for that purpose. I agreed and admitted them. I wanted to head back to the kitchen area, so I simply left the door unlocked so they could depart when ready. That turned out to be a mistake. I looked up from whatever I was doing to discover that others were beginning to trickle in.
One family was standing at the counter, staring at the menu as if to decide on their order. I went to the door and locked it, to prevent any further entrants. Then I approached the family at the counter to explain that we were closed, and that I had only opened the door to allow the previous family access to the bathrooms. They were surprised, but understanding, and so I escorted them to the door, unlocked it, and saw them out.
As I locked the door behind them, I turned to realize that yet another family had come in quietly. It was a Chinese family of some size, a middle-aged father and mother with at least five children ranging from elementary through high school ages. They were in the process of settling into the wing of the restaurant where the bathrooms were located. I wanted to catch them before they were seated, and so quickly addressed the father. He was dressed in a dark blue parka with fur around the hood, much too warm for the season. I thought to myself that he might have recently arrived and was still adjusting to the local weather.
As I spoke to the father, the family huddled around him, a bit clingy. It seemed that he spoke some English, and perhaps they did not, so they were sticking closely together for reassurance in this moment of uncertainty. I explained to the father that the restaurant was not open for business, that I was meeting friends there for dinner and had unlocked the door only to let one family use the bathroom. The look on his face was something greater than confusion, just shy of panic. That look alerted me to the reality that something else was going on here. Something was wrong.
He said he understood, but asked if his family might stay in the wing while I ate with my friends. He promised most sincerely that they would be quiet and that we wouldn’t even know they were there.
That’s when the reality of the situation hit me. I looked him in the eye and said, “You are homeless, aren’t you?” He shook his head unconvincingly, as though trying to maintain his dignity. “Do not lie to me,” I insisted. “Tell me the truth. Are you homeless?” He stared back at me unresponsive. I took him by the shoulders. I raised my voice. I was demanding. “Tell me! Are you homeless?” As though he were yielding his deepest secret under interrogation, he began to nod and hold back tears.
I could not hold back mine. I lost it. I utterly and completely lost it. I began to weep uncontrollably, almost hysterically. I was embarrassed. I grabbed him in a bear hug. I did so to embrace him, yes, but my primary motivation was to prevent him from seeing my complete meltdown. I cried so hard, I shook.
And I knew I had to do something. This was no longer his problem, or at least not his alone. His plight was my plight. God had brought him, with his beautiful family, to my door, through my door, into my domain, into my embrace. And I had no idea how we were going to solve this, but, by God, we were going to solve this.
Then I woke.
I told you it was vivid. Somewhat nonsensical (does any dream make perfect sense?), but highly emotional. I can’t help just now but reflect that the word “vivid” comes from the Latin for “life.” And I‘m wondering if this dream is meant to be more than life-like. Is it supposed to be life-changing for me? Life-giving to others?
I’ll not get back to sleep tonight, I know that. I am not supposed to sleep now, but to consider. I have that sense that this was a sacred moment, an encounter with the Holy. Moses didn’t ask for his Burning Bush, and I did not ask for this. As he found himself, quite accidentally, on holy ground, so do I. And I don’t know yet what it means, but I know it means something … something significant. And here at the beginning of ministry in Kyenjojo, I need to—I have to—ponder what that might be.
“For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.” Job 33:14-16