Dreaming at all is uncommon for me. But recently I have had a string of pretty terrible ones. Last night’s was not the recurring one with the ginormous tornado…the tornado that comes right before dark…it rises up over the horizon…massive and black and swirling. And I know without a shadow of a doubt that the twister is coming straight for us…and coming fast. The only question is, “what to do?” In the tornado dream there are always people with me…friends, family, neighbors, strangers. And there is always a structure…usually an old house or an old church. And everyone is rushing inside to find the best hiding place. Chaos by nature lacks order, and by this point in my dream there is complete chaos with people pushing and shoving and crying. I don’t ever wake from those dreams in a cold sweat though. My heart is not racing.
Let me tell you that oddly enough my tornado dream is not a product of the recent devastating tornado in Oklahoma…or the one a few years ago in Tuscaloosa (debris from the Tuscaloosa storm was found in my yard 60 miles away). I have had these recurring dreams about tornadoes for years…and they might have to do with an actual “fear” of a storm…but I don’t think so. Especially after the past two night’s dreams I see it differently.
One thought on my “calm” in the middle of the storm: In the tornado dreams…everyone around me is running and screaming and crying and pushing. And I am watching and waiting until they are all inside. I know that I only have a little bit of time before the storm hits. From the look and sound of the massive black funnel headed directly toward us, there is very little chance that there will be anything left of the building that everyone is trying so desperately to take refuge in. But I also know that I can not just stand outside and wait for the eminent. My priority is always to find my children. I gather them to me and we “shelter” together to wait out what ever may come.
I have never seen what happens when the storm hits. I don’t know the extent of the wreckage or if there are survivors. I don’t know if by miracle the storm changes course or dissipates. I just don’t know. What happens is out of my control.
Two nights ago I had a bad dream. When I woke, I wasn’t sweating or crying or breathing hard. But it was a bad dream. It had to do with a windstorm too.
I don’t recall all of the dream, but I remember taking a walk and noticing neighborhood pets acting nervous. Cats were crouched and hiding in bushes with big afraid eyes and twitching ears. Dogs were running manicly along their fence lines or scratching at their owner’s doors. Electricity and energy charged the air… so my assumption was that a storm must be coming. I quickly finished my walk as the wind began to blow and I took cover inside of a house…I think it was supposed to be my mother’s house. I was standing in a room under a sky light watching the sky darken when I noticed through a window movement outside a house a little ways away. There was a large group assembled on a high wooden deck. Underneath the deck was a concrete driveway. On the deck was a little “Tiki” type hut for shelter from a sunny day. A gust of wind had begun to lift the hut and some people on the deck had lurched to grab it and hold it down. As I was watching, the deck that was supporting the people broke. It tipped suddenly, drastically down, collapsing completely on one side. While I could not see the people (and was thankful) I knew that they had all fallen onto the concrete below.
These were not teenagers who might have jumped and rolled or whose youthful elasticity and strength might have helped them grab a limb or land like a cat. These were older people…over weight…out of shape. These were people without quick reflexes or bodies that could easily recover. I was terrified for them. I could make out some movement, but I couldn’t tell anything more…and then it caught my eye. Deck furniture was flying through the air toward the skylight that was right above my head. I didn’t have time to move when a chair shattered the skylight and a corner sheet of glass came down across my upturned neck. I knew I was cut and bleeding and might be dying.
But I walked calmly into the kitchen where my mother was sitting. She looked at me with complete disbelief. And I said, “I’m not joking. This is real.”
That was the end of the dream. I don’t know if she was able to rush me somewhere. I don’t know if I lived. I don’t know if by some miracle it was just a bad flesh wound. I don’t know. It was out of my control.
Oddly, the injury and my possible death didn’t seem to be the most upsetting part. I was upset because of the horror on my mother’s face and that I had put her in a terrible position that she might not be able to do anything for me…and I couldn’t convey to her that it was ok…whatever happened to me…it was ok. And I was upset that I hadn’t been able to help or warn the people before they had fallen from the deck… before it was too late.
And then I had last night’s dream…As soon as I woke up I KNEW it was in a way the culmination of the other dreams that I have had. I knew that I needed to share it.
This is the setting: someplace so fantastical that it did not seem like it could possibly be made from or in this world. That “unlike anything else” was precisely the attraction to everyone…or in my case the repulsion. It was like nowhere imaginable because of its huge scale and it’s land and sky surroundings. Picture a mansion of such proportion that the roof is so high that it can not be seen… the top is lost somewhere in the dark night clouds. There is no central stair case…no single stairway anywhere that leads to any particular place. There are many sets of stairs that are located in random places. There might be a flight that goes up a level…and then a person must search to find another stairway… never knowing until they get there if the next set of stairs will lead up or down or nowhere.
There are doors everywhere too. They may go to another interior room or somewhere outside… or they may just go around and around in a circle. Or they may not open at all. Or they may not re-open once you have walked through.
The mansion is situated on land that is far from anyplace else…remote and isolated. There is a long drive coming up to it with a massive gate that opens when you approach and shuts back behind you once you enter. There is a hedge of trees along the sides and rear of the house…all with tightly twisted trunks that create an impenetrable border. The trees don’t bow out, but rise sharply up into a point like a bishop in a game of chess. They rise nearly up to the dark clouds as well.
The inside of the mansion is made up of many rooms…but honestly the only room I went into was the great room on the main floor where there was an “amusement” park setting with “rides” like you can not imagine.
I realized that there was something wrong with this place on the ride up the drive and I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt as I watched everyone else run inside and onto the sinister looking, at least to me, grounds. I was mostly troubled because no one else seemed to be. I carefully followed a group inside because the outside was too creepy. I stayed close to the wall and slowly walked along the edge of the main room watching people actively entertaining themselves in the center of the room. Above me was a metal walkway…a kind of observation deck. Steps led up to the walkway above…and doors opened onto it…but there were large sections of the walkway that were not there. eight foot sections, twelve foot sections…with no warning or caution or barrier to prevent falling. In other words…if a person was walking along and watching the activity below…and not paying attention to where they were going…they would surely fall. It was about a ten foot fall down. If someone did fall, they would likely not die…but they would be injured. Maybe badly. No one but me seemed to notice or to be concerned with the danger. No one seemed to be upset. No one else but me seemed to be watching or assessing this “new”, “interesting”,” entertaining” place. Everyone seemed to be completely involved…running around amazed.
So who was with me at this strange place? What kind of people went to such a place? all kinds of people. But I had come with hundreds of people from different church groups. Yes. People of all ages from many churches had decided to come to this “fun house” for a little get-away.
And what kind of rides were there? For one, there was a huge carousel that seemed at the onset to be a nice ride… until it started going double time and triple time and the seats started flipping and people who were unsuspecting or not strong enough to hold on were sent flying. Where they landed I do not know. I am sure they must have screamed but the sound was drowned out by all of the other busy sounds. And nobody seemed to notice.
I was frozen…watching people meander around… people going in and out of doors…climbing stairs…exploring. People laughing loudly with one other… Talking loudly about things that people talk about…the weather, boyfriends, classes, shows, music. Each person was caught up in their own activity…what they were doing at that moment. No one was paying attention to what was happening with anyone or anything outside of themselves and their own group.
I saw my son. He was getting on a ride and I ran to him. I could tell that I was not going to convince him to get off…but I had a bad feeling, and so I climb up beside of him. I needed to be there.
We leaned back on a disc that had a place formed to nestle your body and rest your feet on. The ride started to spin slowly like a top as it is starting to slow…undulating. It was hard to know if the ride was changing speeds or directions or if there was a strange effect just making it feel that way. My son seemed to be in a trance…like a cobra with a snake charmer. “Wow…check out those optical illusions.” But I did not want to be distracted or “charmed”. I was looking at and worried for him.
“We need to jump off! Jump off! Let’s go!” I grabbed for his hand but I couldn’t bring him with me because of the force bearing down on us. I somehow peeled myself from and toppled off the ride.
I don’t know what else happened. That is all that I remember of the dream. I just woke up with a feeling of helplessness…and urgency. And anger.
And I woke up with the feeling that there was a message.
There is not a safe place in this world. There is not a house to hide in or a church to take refuge in or a group to surround yourself with. There is nothing material that can save you and no person that can save you. Being in a good place with good people is not enough. A friend can not save you. A parent cannot save you. A church group can not save you.
This is not a joke. This is real.
I can not stop a tornado. I can not predict the time of my death.
But I can see. And I can speak. And as long as I have strength and breath I will try to pull back the curtain to show anyone that will look what I see. This is a smoke and mirror show down here. This world is trying…and is extremely successful at distracting us. It all seems so complicated. It is a three-ring circus vying for our attention and sometimes we are caught up in the act. But it is a big act. And the show will end and the tent will be taken down and all that will be left is a big stinking mess.
Or we can choose not to go there.
There is a constant battle whether or not you are aware of it or not.
We want to do only what we want to do. It is our nature to want to be oblivious to everything and everybody that doesn’t directly impact us. We want to have fun. We don’t want to worry. We don’t want to have to think too hard or too much. We don’t want to do anything that is uncomfortable or scary. Ignorance is bliss. One person can’t do anything anyway, right? so what is the point!
And if we hear a little voice inside of us that tells us not to do something because it is wrong or bad for us…we want to tell that voice to shut up. Or if that voice tells us that we should help someone because it is right but it would be an inconvenience for us…we conveniently ignore the voice. Or if the voice tells us that our addiction to something is causing poor decisions and is leading us toward the destruction of our health or relationships or our finances or our job…would we tell the voice to shut up? Live for the moment, right? YOLO! (“You only live once”! Right?)
Did you know that some people don’t hear the voice at all. They have trained themselves to completely dismiss that voice within them that should give them pause to consider the consequences of their actions. Some people laugh all the way down the wrong steps or through the wrong door or on a dangerous ride…one they have no ability on their own to get off of…and no inclination to ask for help. Some people hear the voice say, “Don’t. Stop. Please…that is not the way.” But they go their own way anyway. Again and again they go their own way until the voice gets smaller and smaller.
But some people hear the voice… It may seem like/be a test of wills. The voice will not be quiet. It only gets louder and more adamant. Why? Because some people want desperately to hear the voice…no matter what it has to say. We may want to tell the voice to shut up… even though we know that it is this voice that will keep us from harm.
This is our curse. We live in a world full of ignorance and fear. We think that if we go to the right places with the right people that we will be alright. We won’t. I’m sorry, but it wont. BECAUSE it takes the right Person being on our inside to make things ok.
We were created in God’s image to live in harmony with God. Our spirit is connected to the Holy Spirit. The problem is, that we have forgotten that. We have forgotten how to listen with our spirit. Instead we react to our nerve endings and our tummy rumbling and our fingertips and our eyes and our tongue. We listen with worldly ears to things the world deems as important. We talk about the latest breaking “news”. We worship celebrities. Our bodies rule us. We are led by the desires of our bodies. The sound of the Spirit whispering to us what is good is no match for the noise of the radio or the ballgame or the bar. We do not know what is truly good because we have accepted things that satisfy temporarily in place of what truly satisfies.
Jesus came to show us that even with the temptations of the body…that the Spirit that lives in us is stronger. Jesus was a flesh and blood man with thirst and hunger and pain. But instead of using his weakness as an excuse for sin he did what we are supposed to do in our weakness. Depend on God. Listen to the Holy Spirit. If a storm takes my life, I will still live if I have God. If I am with friends or family in a house or a church or with a group of good people but I am living a life that is focused on me and oblivious or ignoring God’s directions then I may be laughing for the moment…but I am not Living.
Please pay attention. If this sounds like a warning, it is. We don’t know what will happen this very day. Will you hear and know the Voice that will lead you to safety and peace even in chaos? And if you hear it will you choose to follow?…or will you laugh your way through a door to nowhere? This is real.