Friday, September 20, 2013

Dream Site: Heaven, featuring God (duh), Angels like Trees, and an Awesome Cup

I attempted to post last week concerning a dream and its afterwards. Somehow I deleted the post and was unable to recover it. I was blown away somewhat, but not angry about it. I didn't have time to get mad at myself or, perhaps the emotional bandwidth.

At this juncture I can see that it is well that some time has passed, as I included a lot of detail that now seems not very important for the overall impact. The most peculiar aspect of the dream occurred afterwards, over a few hours, extending into the day. I'll explain.

In this dream, I fell violently ill and died, quite suddenly. My wife and son were there, and I slipped away as into a crevice, reaching out to them, and they toward me, as I disappeared from sight. I felt sorrow that I was unable to offer some words before dying, of solace, perhaps, or instructions, especially to my son.

There was a moment of silence and a clouded darkness, then I came to on a grassy lawn or expanse. I looked up and was handed a white cup, gilded with gold.

Right there, any Catholic will agree: this was a good dream. ;-)

I stood and saw the ground spreading out a fair distance. People walked along a sort of promenade. They were dressed - some in suits of a sort, some in robes. There were columns and arches, of white, here and there. And there several feet away was a long wooden table with people gathered, as at a banquet (or, a supper. A supper!). I rushed to the white-bearded person at the head of the table, threw my arms around him, and said "Father! Father, I love you!" The figure replied, "I love you too, Patrick."

He asked me, Do you understand where you are? I said, Yes, this is heaven.

I asked this figure, who I understood of course to be God, how my parents were, whether they had drawn closer to him. He said that they had. I was overjoyed in my dream, threw my arms around him again and said (get this), "Then it was worth it!" (Meaning, my death) I asked how my brother was, and he said, Not so good, he's depressed.

{Note that this rather freaked me out, so I called my brother [who's having a hard time], told him I loved him, and bought him a computer so that we can stay in touch, so, like. In retrospect of course it fascinated me that I did not ask about my wife and son. more on that later}

Other parts of the dream are lost to me, in large part. I believe I asked if I could pray for my brother, and God said, laughingly, Yes, of course. The exchanges were very much of the prototypical eager acolyte and the wise, indulgent master, no doubt. There was a bit more back-and-forth before I directed my attention elsewhere. Soon thereafter, I woke up.

Now, this was an amazing dream, and I was understandably impressed. Though I have to say I was not quite blown away. The dream did not have as intense a quality as others I have had. It did not seem directly critical. For one thing, the God figure reminded me of the actor Lorne Greene, of Bonanza fame. Though, now that I write this out, I feel like I am being unfair to the dream, to myself, and to the spirit that produced the dream. That in itself is pretty interesting.

I stayed awake and wondered about it. I thought about my wife and son. I thought about the people I would want to meet in Heaven. And, as I wondered these things, I found my mind returning to that scene as it carried out these desires.

I found myself walking to encounter, in particular, Simon Peter, the Blessed Virgin, Mary, and the Lord, Jesus Christ. These encounters occurred over a few hours. They lasted as I readied myself for work, walked to the bus, and rode downtown. It would occur to me to wonder something more, whereupon my mind would occupy the same space as it had in the dream, and the scene would carry out. So, the waking experience carried a presence similar to the immediacy of dream, which is remarkable and unique, in my experience, at least.

I recall only two excerpts though, both of which were critically important to me. Of my family, I was told, They are okay, which I took to mean that my wife and son, like my parents, had drawn closer to God. I believe I asked this of Simon Peter.

Then, this. Which I relish. I mean, it was just delightful. I asked the Lord, Jesus Christ, What happens to people who do not come here? (Meaning, heaven) He said something to this effect, laughingly (like his Dad, you might say), "I have no idea." I took this to mean that they simply disappear. At least, for the moment.

What a great dream. At some point during the day this window closed to me. It is closed to me now. I have no regret. In retrospect, I was and am not amazed by the dream. I tell myself, No kidding. I practice a belief that God, the Lord, and all the Saints and angels (oh, there were angels, by the way. Strange, distorted rather fierce-looking beings, but benevolent and in a certain respect almost like part of the landscape, like signposts. Or like trees in white twisted by the wind. It's hard to capture the sense) where all this is present, now, here, at this moment. Exactly now where I sit. Where you sit. Here.

But, you know, it's been a hard week since this dream. Among my thoughts was the concern that if I die and am concerned for my parents, who are both 83 years old now - well, if this was in part a  premonition, I will die quite soon, in maybe five years or so. My reaction to that is: fine. If that is God's will I am all for it. I believe this is the correct response. Still, seems a bit sad.

And, as I said, I contacted my brother and got some things going there. It should bear fruit, or maybe already has.

I have spent the past week in an state of accelerated understanding of my failures and non-presence. To live the truth that God is all is a pretty brutal refutation of everything else we hold dear. Much in the dream was a surprise but upon reflection bore out. Focusing on my parents only? Check the commandments. Got it. Thank you.

Life is hard, I know this. I am allowed dreams, insights. I write about them. I pray as I can and fail, constantly. We lift arms tangled with other arms. Our knowledge hardly qualifies as insight, however we strive. We fall, again and again. This is the Way. This is simply a form of the Way. There are many forms, dreams, and voices.

I only wish I could recall more about Mary or Simon Peter. I remember only impressions. Mary, that she was beautiful, sunlight from a rose. And Simon Peter was amused and kind.

What a dream. What a religion.

Can you believe that cup?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our Way, Today

Futility. Day in and out. Nights sleeping, waking, worrying. No real rest. Dwelling in a body and of a spirit of futility, repeating itself, and futile.

Clawing our way toward Calvary. Make no mistake. This is our Cross. Our lives.

When I came into the Church, and since then, for a long time, I would wonder, Lord, I am so blessed, what is my burden? I see it now, by the grace of God, that our lives are a terrible burden. The dead ends and disappointments. The self-serving aspect of even our greatest victories. The fleeting aspect of friends' support.

The nature of politics. Victory turned to ashes. Righteous positioning become futile, wavering, imploding, dead. False hope. Phantom promises. Hypocrisy of self and others.

And age. Activity becomes a doubt and a burden. Reading, writing, art and music. The mind seems constantly lapsing, the mind distracted, the ear dull.

Ah. But so. Just so, I say this. I love the Lord.

This is your will. This is your will. Praise be to God. Take this from me, take away my Cross - then will I weep.

Never, ever, let me be released, and I will praise you all the more, to your purpose, and none other. No other purpose registers for me. None other is worth my love or care, or my joy.

My love for you has taught me everything I ever needed to know about the futility of my life. And for this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I am never happier than when I have no other explanation for what I feel or say or do then when I can say to myself, such is the will of God. That is, when I am left with no other explanation. I mean, when there is no benefit to myself, no credit accorded to me.

How glad I am - how relieved! - in such times. Take this pain from me, and I will be truly hopeless. But how could you? Even at the point of death, I will praise you. I will praise you, for whom else should I praise?

I look forward to exactly that day, the hour, that moment when I am poised on the threshold. I will demand nothing but simply say, Here I am. Do with me as you will.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Big Day, Brother

I am gladder than glad. I spoke over the phone with my brother, Michael, who is undergoing a lot of change. Ah - such a good talk, straight forward and loving, but by no means over-loaded.

Details are of no account here. They are his and mine, together. But I can say I am happy. Things not yet done are in motion - connecting; connecting in a way that is something more than just checking in. Material conversation. Support, yes, on both ends.

Such a privilege.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Birth, Self, and the Force of the Old

I am too conscious, these last few days, of having died to myself. I say too conscious, because it is painful, depressing. It has led to conflict. It does not lead to a way out.

I say having died to myself, as I died to my former self at baptism.

So, when I take up an issue or desire or concern of my former self, it is almost like reaching into a grave, my own grave, to rifle through the belongings of a former life, to hold out some item for a keepsake, or to advance its worth.

What am I, that I should choose to be new, and yet hope that the past would be new too?

All is God's. All is the Lord's. This the contract to which I did not merely promise myself, but to which I signed my soul, and my life as I live it. This line of thought may sound strictly personal, but I promise that there is a strong formal element.

Writing poetry is a form of covenant, or so it strikes me. In our youth, we try our hand, we express ourselves - or we vehicularize our tendencies - in the form of poetry. Later, we may establish such work as we can take out into the world and champion.

Then, as we grow older, we find that the work and ourselves have become one and the same thing. The tendency to write is almost exactly identical to the writing. The tendency has become an iteration of "I."

Now, here is the strange part. Even as I have died to my former self, I have not died to poetry, or to the poems I wrote or who I had become having written those poems. Somehow, that element, perhaps a core element - who knows? - of myself carried over. Why is this?

My new self says, it is the will of God. My old self would have agreed, but I don't pay him much attention these days - or, at least shouldn't. My new life has not changed the color of my eyes, either, I suppose. Though they have always been more blue or gray, depending on light or context.

It would be interesting when one died to be presented with a vision of all the things one touched but never really understood. I imagine something like the closing scene in the first Indiana Jones movie. Crate after crate, piled high, aisle after aisle, some tired figure pushing on a trolley the Ark of the Covenant.

Monday, September 2, 2013

This Labor and Our Labor - Writing the Word

The "traffic" page shows that the websites are being visited, which is all I hope for, simply to confirm that what I write here is available. People no doubt back out the second they realize that this blog or the OpenCatholic website are NOT what they are looking for, or some may linger. I have no way of knowing short of responses. None to date. That's fine, of course. My posts are not, I think, strong on prompting an online conversation - I just don't write that way. I don't provide links, I don't rise other blogs or websites - I don't even provide a "favorites" links section, etc.

I see other pages that do all these things. A good example I saw recently was the page for the St. Joseph Oblates group, who have a shrine in Holy Cross, California (that's Santa Cruz, of course!) and I appreciated the links, etc. But anyone with an interest in links will find them elsewhere, I figure. A reader no doubt will see my website or blog having searched one or another term, and have at hand other results, and on and on.

While I am beholden and humbled by the glory of the Internet for these forms of communication, I cannot style myself for "maximum" reach. I recall a professor of mine, who advised that the task of poets was to be "interesting." No doubt, this is true of poets who hope for a career in writing, I suppose, but I fell my heart fall away from him at that point, as I was determined to be honest, first and foremost, whether or not anyone found my work "interesting."

I think my postings project something of this attitude - or, I hope they do! I hope they appear honest, I pray that they are!

But, what is honesty, to a follower of Christ? Beyond one's core belief statements, can I claim perfect honesty? Isn't almost anything I say, or write, or do, in some way tainted by the desire to be accepted, or recognized, as being "right"? For a person who believes and in fact celebrates on a daily basis that God only is the truth, it should be clear that any other effort is bound to be more or less diluted by self-interest.

Ah, but this is not to say that persons should not announce their desires! For it is in declaring ourselves - who we are and what we hope for - that we represent ourselves to our brothers and sisters. To stand before the community and state one's understandings - isn't this what St. Paul did? It is a fine thing, to say what you mean and mean what you say. It does not have to be in the form of a blatantly religious form of writing - in fact, it is better to be something quite else. One should speak plainly, from one's understanding, one's conscience. To endeavor to be understood.

But, again, one can be led astray even in one's desires for truth. Writing poetry - like painting or composing music - is notable in that the unconscious speaks, often serving to inform the conscious. The notion being that creation is a form of understanding and thought formation of itself. I suppose One sees that action in Scripture - in prophecy and figurative language. Our Lord himself spoke plainly of the purpose of parables in communicating to the general population what his disciples understood in more direct terms.

To return, again, to an earlier point, a Christian knows to trust in the Word. All else either points that way, or points elsewhere. I am someone who does not endorse a strict either/or premise for the value of the meaning behind words. I think that a lot of writing, while it may not point a finger directly at God, nonetheless maintains a kind of horizontal, or lateral position, like a person trying different doors for the one that opens. I see, in most writing, a noble search for the truth that fits that person's hopes and dreams. Behind that search is a soul, seeking. This too is noble. Very noble, indeed. And much to God's purpose and hope for us, that we seek Him, even as we despair of ever knowing Him.

One could do worse then bless those who write poetry. Or is my Irish showing?