Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Hurricane

"As a dream when one awakes, so, Lord when You awake, You shall despise their image." Psalm 73:20

I had a dream years ago. How long ago that dream was, I can't say. I do know that it must have been after I awoke because I remember it clearly. I have since understood the dream as being revealed in my waking life, so it has changed in my understanding from a dream to a reality while remaining the same in its entirety. I only know One Storyteller who weaves a simple narrative into a beautiful complexity. He is my Lord, and He alone can tell this story of the Hurricane dream. In fact, I am forbidden to speak the dialog I had with the voice that answered mysteries concerning the Hell fire. I am confident that had I been allowed to remember the words that were spoken to me as I looked down on that pit, any soul that heard them would be assured of the truth of that place. So, after all, I am not the best one to ask about what happened in that dream, all though I was there...conscious the entire time. However, I must put something down to make sense of what is happening as I am living in that dream while awake.

If, immediately upon waking, I were asked to describe where that dream took place, I would have answered in my old elementary school gym. In fact, that is how I began to describe the setting before I knew where it truly was. The fact of the matter is that the place that I found myself inside in that dream had not been built as of the time of the dream. Well, that is not entirely correct either. The place had not been restored to its original, in reality, it sat divided in an entirely different state then the one in my dream.

Not knowing that I was dreaming of a future location, my mind raced to find something I could describe that place as, so I called it what I knew at the time. It looked like a large open room with a hardwood floor(ie a gymnasium) although I later learned that the floor is actually sealed cork, a fact that was perhaps not even known to the architect that would design the future room, yet. However, not knowing that the room was a restored 100 year old Grand reading room (because that idea didn't exist in my mind yet) I clung to the fact that it was my old elementary school gymnasium.

The setting of my old gymnasium didn't quite fit with the place I found myself in inside the dream because of the giant windows that looked out onto a beautiful array of trees. Also, there were dozens of old study tables that lined the center of the room. I am not sure how my interpretation of the setting effected the telling of the dream. Perhaps it is like a father telling a night story to a child. As the father tells the story, the child pipes in that there are certain points he is missing. If it is night then there must be a big sleepy moon in the sky, the child says. And the father allows the child to add to the story in that way, without effecting the narrative, only embellishing details that make it more accessible to the child. In that way they share in the creative processes.

I believe that is what my Lord has done with me. I thought it was my gymnasium from elementary school, and I said then there must be my gym teacher who we called Mr. B. He always had his whistle. And there he stood guarding the doorway to the grand reading room. as I entered it through the hallway to my old gymnasium, he blew his whistle and told me to take off my shoes. I noticed a pile of shoes next to the door, and he indicated to me that mine belonged among the pile. The pile reminded me of black and white photos I had seen of piled shoes from the holocaust.

As I walked into the room, barefoot, I saw that the only light coming into that massive open space was through the windows opposite of the entryway. The windows in the grand reading room are two stories tall, providing enough light for the entire room, the light stretches across the room at the different angles of the day. And, no one in the room seems to notice or care about the beauty of the space. I often stare out of windows, enchanted by the creation on the other side. People look at me, and then try to see what I am looking at, and then grow bored and snap back into their own being.

These windows were so special. I had never seen any windows like them when I was dreaming of them. And now that I have seen them I would agree that they are special. I look at them from the outside as I walk into the library, as they show the warm light of reflected sunrises with floating clouds above me. And, when I am inside the building I see that they are amazing to look out of in view of the seasons with the trees that are immediately outside the library. There are trees from all over the world that are planted outside those windows. I would stare out those windows, if I didn't feel oppressed by the people in that room, studying.

After noticing the windows and the scenery outside them, I next noticed that the room was full of people who had their backs to those windows. They were all seated facing the door I had just walked in. In fact, they had all just watched me take off my shoes. I had the feeling that I was holding them up from starting something. As I eyed the roomful of people, each at their own table, sitting perfectly still and silent, I noticed an old friend named Amy. I walked up to her and gushed about the past and how great life was and is.

I have known Amy since we were 5 years old. I say We because were were born only a few days apart. When I was six years old, I heard the story of Jonah in Sunday school, I was excited and wanted to tell all of my friends about the man that lived for three days inside a giant fish. Amy heard the story from me, too. She was confused and asked me if I got the hero's name wrong. She was confident that I was speaking about Pinocchio, the Disney cartoon. My heart sank as I realized how hard to reach with the amazing truth she had already become through counterfeiting. That night before bedtime I prayed a prayer that would get answered 25 years later. I prayed that I could share my Lord with Amy.

In the dream I approached Amy as we were children again. We both lit up in expression, not noticing the stuffy cold atmosphere around us in the gym. Perhaps the other people were listening in as we shared our stories about life. Then I heard a whistle blown from my "gym teacher" and he yelled at me to take my place seated in the back row against the windows. I was confused, as I didn't know how a place could be set for me, not even knowing what was happening in the room at the time. As I scanned around me it appeared that each person who was seated had a pencil and paper in front of them. I immediately realized that they were waiting to take some sort of test, and I had stumbled in, unknown, and held them up while I fumbled with my shoes and chatted with my old friend.

When I was 18 years old, I drove home from a high-school graduation party, drunk. I didn't want my parents to smell the alcohol on me, so I decided to stay out longer to sober up before my curfew. I took the long way home that wound around the base of the hill I lived on. Just before I was to cross the river and go past the cemetery, I decided to stop and turn around. My decision led to my arrest for DUI. When I finally got home, my sister beat me up. She said that she had a dream that I was in a fatal car accident in front of that cemetery. She said that she just knew the dream was a premonition,as she cried and beat me she said that I should be dead.

Amy called me sobbing on the phone. We hadn't spoken like this in 25 years. She said that she couldn't forgive herself and I led her to Jesus, my Lord. She was born again, a new creature. She started attending the childhood church of her husband Andrew. It is a church in Northern Kentucky called St. Andrews.

When I was born again with the spirit of my Lord inside me, I became aware of the spiritual struggle in my life. I had a dream that evil spirits were chasing me down to destroy me. In the dream, I stopped running from them in fear and turned to confront them with a question: "What about St. Andrews?". The spirits fled away, scared of something in that statement that was far more powerful then them.

7 years after my DUI, I returned to the scene of the crime, a new creature. I drove all the way to where I had turned around before the bridge. This time I decided to keep going, to pass the cemetery. As I looked over I was stunned to find that the cemetery was named "St. Andrews".

In the Grand reading room I found my place in the dream. I sat down, uncomfortably, wishing that my place was facing the opposite direction, so that I could be looking out the beautiful windows at the trees outside of them. However, I didn't want to cause any further disturbance by turning my chair to the other side of the table. I noticed how all 50 or so tables and chairs had been properly organized like perfect squares, spaced out evenly across the sealed cork floor (that at the time I thought was hardwood).

Perhaps this was done for the test, I thought. People needed space so that no one could be accused of cheating. After all, what good is a mental competition of individual merit if people are sharing results? Mr. B blew his whistle in short bursts and everyone perked up. "Listen up." he shouted to an echo as it rang again and again through the giant two story room. The Grand reading room seems to have been designed to create echoes. Everything in the room is hard and unbending to sound. The placing of a pencil on a table can result in an echo. Mr. B's voice was far beyond the intended volume for that space. The echoes of his voice were also louder then the peaceful level required to not disturb the entire grand reading room.

He told us to take our tests out of the manila envelope's on our tables. He had all kinds of instructions about how to open the envelope and how to organize our papers and pencils. I followed along as long as I could, hoping to catch his attention later to explain the mistake that had been made in my sitting for this exam. However, there was no break in his instructions that got ever more detailed and overbearing as he began to tell us all how we should write our names on the paper in an certain way.

The stress that was caused by this exam flew out of Mr.B's mouth like an invisible dragon, flying in loops over the heads of the test takers, then sitting on their shoulders as they hunched, listening to his every word. The over-burden of his commands became so large that I began to giggle to myself. There was no way that I could take part in this competition. I hung in as long as I understood what his words intended, but then he told us to get out these strange slide rulers that had been prepared at each table. It seems that we were each being asked to use the rulers to write our names on the front of the test. It would not do if we each had our own hand writing, so we would have to identically use the rulers to write our names.

I struggled to understand how to use the ruler, it had an axis that could rotate to various angles that he instructed us on. He began teaching how each letter of the alphabet was different angles on the ruler, but I missed what he said about the capital letter "A". Being named Adam, I needed that letter to complete my name on the test, and there was no stopping his instruction to ask him to repeat. I gave up trying to write my name and slowly turned around to look out the window at the trees.

Mr. B's voice and echoes continued, but softened as I replaced my attention to the beautiful creation outside the windows. I prayed a prayer of worship to my Lord for creating such beauty as the sky changed to imperial violet over head. It was the last sunset, and the other people in the room were missing it. At the time, I didn't know that it was the last sunset, but I did know it was the most special event I had ever witnessed. When I had filled my heart to over-flowing with praise for what was happening before my eyes, I slowly turned back around to the exam.

Mr. B had finished instructing the exam-takers on which angles to use for the slide rulers to write their names. He was now beginning on how to unseal the test booklet. I was looking for any break in his instruction that I could excuse myself from the room politely. My soul longed to go outside and converse with the maker of that sunset as I watched it slowly change colors. I wanted to feel the breeze and hear the birds sing their praises. But, I had to sit patiently, as Mr. B did not let up in his instruction on how to unseal the glue to reveal the first page of the test.

I must admit that as a child I was intimidated by Mr. B. However, I had long since grown past that fear, and was only remaining seated out of a loving respect for the man, and the other people who were diligently trying to pay attention to his unceasing detailed instruction. Indeed, it seemed that the people following his words had all grown weary, before the test had even started.

The test did start though, I noticed mainly because Mr. B stopped talking. The room was far more silent then I though silence could be. Perhaps this was because it was no longer ringing with echoes. I was about to get up from my seat and attempt to leave in silence when Mr. B's hand slapped down on the name sheet I hadn't filled out. It seemed that he had noticed me the entire time, as I gazed out the window. How he had not been more interested in the last sunset I will never know. But, he was glaring at me for my insubordination and clear lack of order in following his instruction. He whispered threats at me that I should quickly open my test and begin, that each phase of the test was critically timed, and I had fallen behind already.

When I was young I climbed trees. My house was on a cul-de-sac surrounded by forest on every side. It didn't take much effort to find a suitable tree to climb. I was a good climber, and light in weight. I would spend hours hiding in the top branches of a tree. Tree branches get smaller as you climb to the top, I knew it was important to recognize the smallest branch size that would hold my weight.

When I got as high as the tree would allow me, I would wedge my foot into the natural y shape made by the branch as it meets the trunk of the tree. If I wedged my feet in far enough, it didn't take much effort to stay supported and keep from falling. I could spend hours up in the top of a tree, feeling the gentle sway as the wind blew.

I remember looking down at the world and feeling completely secure and hidden. I never met a tree in my childhood, that given enough time and entry branches low enough to the ground, I would climb it. They were all different, all amazing, challenging puzzles to climb. I climbed all kinds of trees, even sticky and sharp pines. Some trees took hours to master. I can look back now and say I had a great relationship with trees in my childhood.

Back in my dream, Mr. B backed away from my table as I opened up the test. His eyes never left me as I read the first question. The question was about trees. There was an image of a tree, drawn by a computer in black and white. It was a smooth oak tree with very little detail added in. The question asked something like how many carbon-based molecules are inside this structure. The question didn't even use the word tree, it called the oak a structure. Fortunately, for me, this question multiple choice. I looked down at the possible answers and chose one by guessing. However, I was unable to figure out how to write down the answer on the paper because I had to use the complex slide ruler.

I wasn't frustrated, but I was done pretending to take the test. I got up from my chair and walked to the door. As I glanced out the giant windows again at the trees behind the test-takers, I thought it a shame that they should be tested to know what a tree is made of without being able to appreciate it for its beauty. Turning back around, I was almost out the door when I heard Mr. B's whistle echo behind me. He told me to put my shoes on. I had completely forgotten that I didn't have shoes on, dreams are strange in that you don't feel the cold floor under your feet. I was looking through the pile for my own shoes when my Lord told me to look out the window.

My perspective from the windows had changed, I was further from them now, with a room full of people sitting, testing between myself and the windows. There are 5 giant rectangular windows in the grand reading room. Each giant window is made up of 40 smaller rectangular windows. This creates a cross-work pattern of light and darkness between the glass and framework of the giant windows. Each smaller rectangle is its own little window, but from far away, they split the landscape behind them into hundreds of masterpieces.

Isaiah 34:4 And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers ...

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Matthew 25:13

I remember thinking the comforting irony of how the world was ending, so I shall never be to blame for not finding my shoes in that massive pile.

As I looked at the windows for the last time, under the instruction of my Lord, The little rectangles showed the sunset had turned golden amber. Then, some of the smaller rectangular windows began to turn black. That is they turned blacker then night, completely void of light, into darkness. The action of these windows turning void reminded me of a hurricane pulling shingles off of a roof. One, two, three became void...there was missing reality behind the test-takers and none of them noticed at all. The change happened quicker then the eye could see erasing pieces of the creation behind the test-takers.

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:2

I tried to make a sound of warning to the test takers, but didn't find my voice. I watched as people were erased, the event had sped up and moved from just the window panes to now all of what I could see. Blocks of reality seemingly flew away into pitch black, I was in awe of the scene as I watched the last test-takers still focused on their task at hand, were erased completely. Then I asked if I should be erased as well. I felt sin being pulled out of me violently. I was being torn apart. My mind was being pruned like an over-grown tree. I remember specifically seeing a branch removed from my mind that represented everything that I knew about speaking Spanish.

Perhaps it was my foolish pride, but I felt the urge to hold onto my knowledge of speaking Spanish. Even now, in describing the event, I still call it "my" knowledge as if it is mine to keep, like I earned it or something. I reached out to grab the branch and felt like I was being pulled away with it. My Lord asked me to think of my friend Fred and how he would view such an event. I immediately laughed a humbling laugh and watched Spanish go away with a ironic smile. I thought of how ironic this event is to the humble man who can see it clearly. All the work I put in was done for the wrong reason, so that knowledge had become sinful and would lead to my destruction if not pulled off of me by my loving Father.

The thought then comforted me that I would be able to experience the reality of who God is in my own being as I lived in my newly pruned body and mind. That is, I would know what God approves of first-hand by being pruned by Him, I would become approved. I would then be a little reflection of what God calls good. That though comforted me as the pruning continued. When it was finished, I felt like a little child who needs to completely trust in a parent who knows better. I was humbled. I felt like I had just given up my toys, and trusted it was for a good reason because I loved the One who took them away. My thoughts became simple.

"So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven" Matthew 18:4

The only question that I asked my Lord was: "Where did it all go?" He showed me. He moved me without any effort of my own. I remember feeling nothing at all, so sense of motion. Everything was black.

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