I Asked For It


I’d been struggling with the fact that I no longer felt at home in the Catholic Church since June. I finally told my spiritual director three weeks ago. While a bit shocked, Deacon Ron had known something was up all along. After seven years, he knows me well enough to know when I’m holding on to something. He pointed out in July that I was seriously pissed off at God, and I was…well am…, but while I’d admit to that, I wouldn’t entertain a discussion of the reasons why. I tend to do that. Until I can find the words I need to express it clearly enough to understand it myself, I keep it locked down tight.

So for six months I’ve held one of the only people that I really trust at a ‘safe’ distance and prayed for clarity. By now I should know enough to be careful what I pray for. I suppose I suffered a momentary lapse of reason but I begged for clarity. Know what that got me? Questions. Lots of ’em. And dreams. Weird, frightening, cryptic, and ├╝ber vivid dreams that haunted me for days, even weeks later.

Over the last few months, I wrote down the dreams in my journals. They made no sense. None. Then I had one so haunting and disturbing, it makes still makes me shiver even two months later as I sit in the sunlit kitchen. It scared me enough to tell it to a friend of mine. She told me that deep down I knew what it meant and I just wasn’t ready to face it.

In the dream, I was in the shadows across from a church door. A man came to the door and finding it locked, he began to beat on the door until his hands were bloodied and broken. He had his head against the door, crying as he pounded away in vain. I could smell the blood from where I was but could only watch, trapped and terrified in the shadows. I woke up still trying to scream and unable to.

This week I had another one just as vivid but instead of waking up terrified, I was surprisingly calm. Surprising because for the first time, I actually died in my dream. After months of dreams, most which had me in mortal danger, I finally actually died. So much for that myth we were told as kids that if you die in dream, you die in real life.

In this dream, I was in an office surrounded by a dozen men. One had taken charge of the office and he was cold and demeaning towards me. Then another man came. He tall and very authoritative. The others jumped to do what he said. So I went to Authority, telling him how I’d been treated. The anger was plain on his face. He sat me down across from the cold, demeaning one who had been in charge. Authority had chrism oil which he used to anoint my lips and the man’s ears. But the man stood up in a huff and walked away, refusing to acknowledge me. As he left office, the other men followed. Authority told me to go after them. They all out went out along a cliff to the shore, climbing far out on the boulders. The biggest waves I had ever seen were crashing near them. Some tried to surf but most just watched. I had hung back since I wasn’t really welcome anyway. Suddenly a huge wave swept in and I turned to face it just as it reached me. I was swept up and up. The wave curled over me. I knew I would either be smashed on the rocks below me or drown. I tried to hold my breath but I couldn’t. As the wave started to close over me, I just let go, surrendered and prayed ‘God help me’. It wasn’t a desperate kind of thing. It was like I already knew He was there. The wave closed over, I was under the water then all went black. I passed through the black and was back in the office. No one else was there but there was a note there for me. It was from Authority. It read simply: Finally. Always.

I knew what it meant. Finally, you surrendered. Always, I’ll help you.

I woke up and I could still smell the chrism. I had to touch my face to know it wasn’t there.

Not no way.
Not no how.

But I did. In my dream. Maybe that’s the step I needed to be able to do it in my waking hours?

And that locked door? Can I walk out of the shadows and unlock it?

Not yet. There’s still something between me and the door.

Could it be that the clarity I’d been praying for could be found in the cryptic? A week ago I would’ve said, ‘No’ but now I can’t say that. Not after that last dream. I usually joke with Deacon Ron that it would take a three-foot flashing neon sign from God to be clear enough to satisfy me. Apparently, tidal wave trumps neon.

Just a Random Tuesday

January 1, 2013. New Year’s Day. For many New Year’s Day is symbolic of a fresh start. A vast unsullied plain full of soaring hopes and endless possibilities. A new breeze is blowing. Changes, big changes, are in the air.

For me. It’s Tuesday and the date doesn’t really matter much. I’m guess I’m getting jaded in my old age. I’ve stood on the cusp of many a new year, making all those empty promises to myself about how this year, it’s going to be better. It’s going to be different. All those things I’m going to somehow do better. But over the last few years, I’ve slowly come to realize that New Year’s Day is just a day. All those grand, sweeping resolutions fall by the wayside. By the end of March, I’m usually hoping to get it back on track. By October, I’ve abandoned all hope of getting it together. By the first week of December, I’m just waiting for the year to end so I get to the magic reset button that is New Year’s Day.

Funny things is, there is no reset button. Today isn’t magic. It’s Tuesday. It’s not rocket science really. I can probably tell you how I’m going to approach life today but I can’t tell you how I’m going to handle things on some other random Tuesday, let’s say May28th, 2013, because I haven’t experienced all the days in between. I guess that’s where New Year’s loses it’s sparkle for me, in the day-to-day life between New Year’s Days. Before long the stuff of life settles like dust on the hopes and dreams of January 1st.

In reality, every day offers that vast unsullied plain full of soaring hopes and endless possibilities. Every day presents it’s own set of choices and challenges. We rise to the occasion or we fall woefully short. Either way, the next morning offers us the chance to try again. There’s not much sense in waiting for some magic day to do things differently. Tuesday is just as good a day as any. It’s just a matter of remembering to brush away the crud now and again so those new days don’t lose their sparkle.

Happy Tuesday my friends. May all your days sparkle.