Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Royal Wedding

The Dream

The dream began with me employed as a debt counselor. I had been hired by a wealthy landlord to counsel poor tenement dwellers about how they could manage their finances better, to help them pay the extremely high rents they owed. I witnessed this landlord and her bodyguard bullying a poor lesbian couple because of their inability to pay rent. When I realized what kind of a person the landlord was, I also realized that the problem was not that people living in the tenements didn't know how to manage their finances, it was that the rents were too high. I quit my job and started to help the renters to organize a union to demand fairer rent.

In the second part of my dream, as I was leaving a gathering of renters, I was approached by a handsome young man wearing a suit and tie. This man was trying to seduce me. He brought me to a public restroom in a park and told me he wanted to have sex with me. I found him very attractive, and his offer tempting. But despite his increasingly bold attempts to have his way with me, I resisted and told him I could not have sex with him because I had made a commitment to my partner Göran.

In the third part of my dream, after I had rejected the advances of this attractive young man, I was crossing a bridge. As I crossed the bridge, I looked at my hands. They looked dead, like the hands of a zombie. But then I realized that the deadness was just a shell. I peeled the shell off. Now my hands looked diaphanous, like the hands of a ghost. Once again, I realized that the ghostliness of my hands was just a shell. I peeled that shell off as well. Now I saw that I was wearing very delicate, lacy gloves, like the gloves that a bride might wear to her wedding. I had three sets of wedding gloves on.

Another attractive young man wearing a suit and tie approached me, and asked me to follow him. I did and he led me to a luxuriously appointed apartment in a beautiful building. He told me to undress, and pointed me to a shower where I was supposed to bath. As I undressed and removed the three sets of gloves, I saw a beautiful ring on my left hand. It was made of gold, and had an elaborate setting on it in the shape of a fleur-de-lis type crown. I learned that the ring was an engagement ring, and that I was to be married to the crown prince of the realm. In the shower, there was a bottle of oil that I bathed myself in, and then rinsed in the water.

A woman arrived, young, blond and attractive. I overheard her speaking to her servants while I was in the shower. She was a wealthy princess, and she was indignant that the crown prince was marrying me instead of her. I came out of the shower, and I felt bad. I was getting ready to give her my engagement ring, and I was going to tell her that she should marry the prince. I had no business taking her rightful place. But the crown prince himself then arrived. He told me I had no right to give the ring to the princess. It was his to give, and he had given it to me. I was to finish my shower, and then get dressed and prepare for the royal wedding.


The Interpretation

This dream was about loyalty. The first test of loyalty involved learning that my employer -- the one I thought I was supposed to be serving -- didn't actually deserve my loyalty, and that my loyalties needed to be redirected, and I needed to align myself with the poor, against the powerful who were exploiting them.

The second test involved learning about the depth of my personal commitment. It wasn't just about sexual fidelity (though it could certainly also be about that). In dreams, sex is rarely actually just about sex. In this case, the question was whether I could resist the allure of short-term satisfaction that would undermine the more fundamental, more important commitments in my life.

The crossing of the bridge, I think, symbolized the passage from the realm of mortality to the realm of eternity. The symbolism of the gloves was fascinating. The "dead" zombie gloves symbolize merely fleshly, material concerns, things of mortality or of this world. The "diaphanous" ghost gloves symbolize the realm of spirit. But interestingly, the spirit separated from body offers no "substance," no reality in and of itself either. Where we really begin to find the substance and beauty is the three sets of "wedding gloves" underneath. There are multiple layers of symbolism in the wedding gloves: the conjoining of body and spirit, but also our entry into the eternal realm, literally our wedding or union with God.

It occurred to me later that the gloves actually correspond to the Mormon conception of heaven. The dead zombie gloves correspond to the telestial realm -- to which are consigned those in this life who never manage to see beyond the purely physical realm enough to transcend lust and hate (liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, etc.). The diaphanous ghost gloves correspond to the terrestrial realm -- the realm reserved for those who have some spiritual awareness, but who have insufficient depth of spiritual awareness to transcend legalism and successfully apply spiritual principles in a living way to the world we live in. The three-tiered wedding gloves correspond to the three-tiered celestial kingdom, where spirit and body, time and eternity are successfully united -- the dwelling place in God's presence of those who understand and are valiant in their loyalty to that understanding.

I find intriguing that the young man who attempts to seduce me is very similar to the young man who leads me to the crown prince's apartment. It suggests that my would-be seducer was not actually seducing me, but rather testing me to see if I was a worthy companion for his Lord.

The arrival of the indignant princess symbolized -- I think -- the problem that gender poses for gay Mormons in Mormon theology. The implication of the dream seems to be that faithfulness and loyalty to God matters more in any equation involving celestial marriage than does physical gender.

I'm not sure what was the significance of the fact that the oppressive landlord in the dream was a woman (with a male body guard). In the Book of Revelation, the oppressive economic and political systems of this world are also symbolized by a woman ("the whore of Babylon"). This certainly doesn't reflect how I see women in the real world. Of course in the real world, women are not the masters of global wealth and power. The lesbian couple in my dream were closer to my conscious perception of the actual social status that women occupy "in the world." The lesbian couple were standing up for the poor, and bore the brunt of the hostility directed by the powers that be toward anyone who challenges injustice. It was when I witnessed the way these women were being abused, that I made the realization in my dream of how I needed to realign my loyalties.

I suppose the significance of the gender of the landlord character (and the indignant princess) emphasize the world as "rival suitor." Certainly as a gay man, they would seem to symbolize the assertion made against me -- on the basis of my gender -- that I cannot be a candidate for exaltation because of the gender of the person I love and remain fiercely committed to.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful dream and its interpretation. I love how deeply steeped you are in the scriptures. Your intuitive sense of their most pressing messages for our times shines through in a powerful way. I have been studying the book of Isaiah a lot lately and am struck by the fact that one of its central themes is that the poor and disenfranchised are the Lord's true people in the last days. Church members often think they are "the Lord's people," but they are the Lord's people to the degree that they are willing to act as nursing fathers or mothers to the poor and the disenfranchised. That's what they've been "chosen" to do. Very few members get that. Those who do are usually found quietly serving the poor and they never make a big deal about their status. I see many evidences of divinity in both your dream and its interpretation. Thanks, again, for sharing it. And for being the kind of person who has so prepared himself to have these kind of revelatory experiences.

J G-W said...

Anonymous - Thanks for your comments.

I've been studying the Book of Mormon lately, and am very aware of how its central narrative about cycles of pride, destruction, humility/repentance and prosperity also fundamentally relate to those Old Testament prophetic demands for justice for the poor and oppressed. If you read the Book of Mormon carefully, it becomes clear, I think, that this concern for the poor and the outcast is essentially what is meant when the Book of Mormon writers speak of "righteousness."

(That, by the way, is non-Mormon American historian Nathan Hatch's take on the Book of Mormon as well. He also sees concern for the poor as the central, driving moral concern in the Book of Mormon.)

That's something for American Mormons to reflect on, if we also accept the Book of Mormon premise that the Lord holds the inhabitants of this continent to a higher standard of "righteousness," that he makes this kind of righteousness a concomitant of our right to be here...

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with your Book of Mormon definition of "righteousness" as "concern for the poor and the outcast." And I agree that Book of Mormon prophets make clear that our "right" to live on this land is conditioned on our collective willingness to live in "righteousness." Both of these are sobering thoughts.

I was heartened when the church added "Care for the Poor and Needy" as an official "mission" of the Church. But I think we have a long way to go as a people in implementing the imperatives of this mission. We may save our own lives as we reach out to help others. Maybe Zion will be the end result.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you again for being such a uniquely powerful and beautiful voice in the kingdom. I have been nourished by your writings on many occasions and I thank you for your light and example. I'm sorry you've passed through some dark times recently. We all do. But I hope you know how loved, appreciated, and admired you are by many. Including some people you don't even know. Keep up the great work. You are making a difference and the best is yet to be.

Anonymous said...

Since some of the more important spiritual decision points of my life have featured guidance in dreams, I'm curious about how you decide dreams are especially worth listening to.

I'd like to compare your thoughts as a way to check my bearings.


J G-W said...

Firetag - my approach to dreams is that ALL dreams tell me something about myself. Over the years, I have kept a dream journal in which I write down every dream I can remember.

Sometimes, if I remember only a tiny fragment of a dream, I'll write it down; because even dream fragments, compared to other, more fully remembered dreams tell you something. For instance, say all that I can remember about a dream is that I was a seed planted in the ground. (This is an actual dream fragment I remembered once.) That -- already!!! -- is a very significant dream image. But then later I might have other dreams about seeds or planting that might reveal to me more about what that means.

Once you have a good understanding of your own dream vocabulary, it becomes easy to identify dreams of a higher, more revelatory nature. These kind of dreams are often also accompanied by some kind of waking spiritual experience. For instance, after recording a dream, I might kneel down to pray and the Spirit will use certain images from the dream to communicate important messages to me or teach me important lessons.

But the short answer to your question is that I don't generally try to distinguish between a revelatory dream and other dreams. I try to understand all my dreams, and I've found that I've learned interesting and important things from all of them...

J G-W said...

I also ought to say, sometimes you wake up from a dream with a sense of great urgency. You just feel it is important.

I also tend to go on the assumption that if something important needs to be communicated to me through a dream, God will help me remember the dream. Very often, my recollection of dreams can be quite hazy. But the most important ones I've always had a crystal clear recollection of -- sometimes in great length and detail. I have dreams in my dream journal where the written description of the dream goes on for many pages (since I always try to record every detail that I can remember).

Last night I had a very interesting experience where I had completely forgotten a dream the previous morning. Then as I was praying before retiring at night (about 16 hours later!), the Spirit just completely opened up a very clear recollection of the dream and all its significant details... Which I then promptly wrote down! To me, that was a sign of something significant. In fact, it did turn out to be a fairly significant dream.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, J-G-W. That was very helpful.