Thursday, November 20, 2008

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains Are the Feet...

I had a remarkable dream last Saturday, one that made me sit up in astonishment.

I was out West somewhere, in the mountains, on the outskirts of Colorado Springs (headquarters of Jim Dobson's Focus on the Family). In my dream, that's where my home ward here in Minneapolis was located.

I arrived at the ward meeting house for Sacrament meeting, and I was greeted by my bishop. The Saints were all in hiding. They were afraid for their lives, as they believed a terrorist attack against them was imminent. The bishop seemed overjoyed by my arrival. He asked me to go up into the attic of the meeting house, where all the ward's women and children were hiding, and let them know that it was now safe to come down.

I climbed the winding staircase to the meeting house attic, where I found the bishop's wife, and all the other women in the ward, with the young primary children. I told them the threat was over, it was safe to come down. They all then filed down the stairs into the chapel, where Sacrament Meeting was about to begin. I was the last one to go down.

By the time I went down, they were already singing the opening hymn. Then the bishop's wife gave the opening prayer. She named me by name in her prayer, and said, "We give thanks for John, and ask that you help him in the search for his family." I was invited to sit with some friends at the front of the chapel, right in front of the sacrament table, where I participated in worship along with everyone else.

The rest of the dream was extremely long, full of remarkable symbolism -- too long to recount in detail here. The short version is that it involved a pilgrimage to Colorado Springs, in search of my family. On this pilgrimage, I found myself challenged and hounded by armed, self-appointed militia, who saw me as an "illegal alien" and who tried to stop me. And my search finally ended back at the home of my bishop, where I helped his wife bring a dying and withered Christmas tree back to life.

But the most powerful thing about this dream, for me, had to do with my sense of the role I (and we all) need to play in being "bringers of good tidings" and "publishers of peace."

Of course people in the Church are afraid of homosexuals. They are especially afraid of gay rights activists, whom they see as on a crusade to take away their rights. How or why they are afraid or whether there is an ounce of justification to those fears is irrelevant from the point of view of those of us entrusted with the burden of making peace.

We can't be messengers of peace unless and until we disarm. Unless and until we are willing to go places we are afraid to go, unless and until we are willing to reassure instead of threaten. This is a sacred calling, the calling of being a peace bringer.

I know some people will say we can only get peace through strength. We can only convince our enemies to back down if they are afraid of us. And that is true -- but only because they are our "enemies." There's a deeper, more profound, more lasting way of making peace: the way Christ taught us, the way he modeled for us in going willingly to the cross, which is to make peace by ending enmity itself.

How do we know if this is our calling?

If we dwell in a place of warfare, it is our calling.


Chedner said...

I had an interesting dream last night, myself. I'm not good with interpreting dreams or even knowing if any are meaningful... but it sort of (in a rather small, limited way) reminded me of this post.

In my dream, I was coming home from buying groceries for Thanksgiving dinner. When I got home, I found the main entrances to my house blocked (I don't remember exactly how), so I had to take a rather long and somewhat tricky detour (I remember most specifically a rather daunting staircase) to get into my house from a small door on the roof.

When I got to this door, someone (who was understood to be LDS and a close relative, though ambiguous as to any specific person or gender even) lurched out from the shadows -- it was nighttime.

Immediately, there was a sense of danger. This person was hungry and ready to attack to take the groceries I'd just bought.

My "fight or flight" instincts kicked in and I started to deliberate which I should do: run into my house, lock the door, and hide in my shelter or put the groceries down and fight until this person fled.

But then I looked into this person's eyes more closely -- and more than anything I saw fear, a fear of hunger, a fear of starvation... and I knew I simply needed to find a way to make it understood that the groceries were sharable, that we both could sit at the Thanksgiving table. Nobody had to run away. Nobody had to fight. Nobody had to go hungry on Thanksgiving if we just sat together and broke bread together.

J G-W said...

Wow, very cool dream.

Yes, it is very similar in key ways, right down to the presence of a staircase. What the heck does that mean?

Obviously, both dreams relate to all those fundamental issues of family, survival, co-existence, sharing and community...