I have a set of mediation beads developed by a Lutheran bishop who, interestingly, despaired of having enough time in his job to think and pray. A couple of those beads are to remind you of your deepest things, things perhaps you cannot, should not, or simply do not know how, to share. In that spirit I need to tell a story. Since my readers number from 1-3 on any given post this story is mostly for me; I do not want to forget and already the edges are a little gauzy. Read on if you will, but this story is mostly for me, at least for now.
The night before my surgery I was in enough pain, and perhaps under the influence of enough drugs, I could not pray. I simply could not pray. This is a not uncommon phenomenon for very sick people; perhaps that is why we need to pray for each other when times are tough. I did manage to breathe out a short prayer for a sometimes friend who was about to under go very serious surgery for a massive tumor, and that prayer came easily enough. Then I dreamed….
I dreamed I was watching a parade of people. They were passing from my left to my right. I was not a part of the procession, I just watched. The people in the procession had a quality of light it is extremely hard to describe. It is as if they were lit from inside and their entire beings permeated with a light so pure I cannot even imagine it. They also gave off a sense of single-mindedness. They knew their destination and wanted to be there. There was no rush in these people, but they were not to be deterred. And I just watched….
Every now and then something about one of the people seemed vaguely familiar but I cannot say I remember dreaming that I engaged anyone or moved to join the procession. I just watched… I was overwhelmed with a feeling of ‘goodness’ that I cannot describe. These people were so ‘good’ that I ached to be as ‘good’ as them. In a world full of dictionaries I cannot find a better word, they were the essence of ‘goodness’. And I watched…
Finally one person turned to look at me. It was my grandmother. She smiled, and calmly continued moving. She seemed entirely my ‘Grandma Coleman’ and entirely someone impossibly beautiful and pure. I then came back to my hospital room and went through the preparations for my surgery. I did not really remember the dream until the day after my surgery.
What does it all mean? I think I know, maybe, possibly. I recently wrote that I did not want to be a ‘prophet’. If there is not room in the world for a prophet there is much less room for a ‘mystic’ but I have had indications before that I have a heightened sensitivity to some things. Perhaps that is ‘mysticism’ and perhaps not: the older I get the less certain I am that anything important can be labeled.
I still see ‘through a glass darkly’. I think for some reason I was privileged to see to those who have ‘seen clearly’. So much goodness cannot have just been a figment of a drugged, pained, and tired mind. Of course I took the chance of mentioning this whole thing to my normally phlegmatic priest who is usually uncomfortable with such discussions. All he said is that ‘there are certain graced moments that come to us….’ When I recall that ‘grace’ is defined as an ‘undeserved gift from God’ I think I can be very comfortable in describing my dream as a ‘graced moment’. I am comfortable with that….