While on Skype with my friend, Kadian, and her close friend, Sandy, and while chatting about some spiritual matters, I was reminded of a dream I’d had the previous night.
“At first I thought it was such a silly dream… about church,” I said, “but this morning, while eating my porridge, I decided to write it in my Journal. As we speak, it becomes more relevant. Want to hear it? “
“Sure!” they said. And I began.
“I was sitting in church waiting for the service to start. There are windows all along the side of the church so I was watching this old car come puffing up towards the parking area. It was back-firing, smoking, missing and was obviously on the last of it’s pistons.”
“A guy jumped out of the car when it was still running. He opened the hood, did some tinkering, then ran around so he could rev the motor. The car was suffering…it was in dire straits.”
“Finally, he turned the motor off, leaving the car in the turn-about area; not having been able to reach the parking lot. He walked in and took a seat in an empty pew. I noticed a slight odor of gasoline or diesel fuel. No one joined him.
The priest started the service. A woman near me began coughing and waving the bulletin in front of her face. ‘Ye gads!’ she said to her husband. She continued fussing and making remarks in unmistakable negative tones.”
“Suddenly the priest asked us to stand. We rose in unison and the woman near me suddenly coughed wretchedly and said, ‘Fumes! They’re everywhere! Ghastly!’ I glanced at the stranger in the empty pew. He stood with his head bowed.”
“My heart went out to him. How many times had I felt the same rejection and judgment? At least he knew it was about fumes and odors, I thought. A lot of times I could not name the cold that blew my way.”
“Suddenly, the priest came towards me. I was delighted. I thought he may ask me to go to the stranger in the pew and find out who he was so I could introduce him. Instead, the priest held out a card to me. It contained a list of jobs for church work. Plus there were several dollar amounts with boxes beside them. I was so surprised at this, I stepped back and looked at the Priest. He said, ‘Well, it’s only money. You can afford to tick one of these boxes!’
Unable to believe what I was hearing, I continued to just look at him. Since I was silent and unmoving, he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a rubber stamp. He put the card in front of me and gave it a telling blow with the stamp. He held up the results for me to read, then tucked it in his pocket and turned to continue the service. The stamp read, “TEMPORARY” . And I agreed.”
Sandy, Kadian and I laughed for a good period of time; it seems we’ve all been made to feel “temporary” at one time or another in our respective churches. Each of us have tried to find our spiritual path within the church and each of us have found the need to pull back and away. If the church wanted to learn a little about why people stop coming to church, there’s a significant gem of information contained in the souls of each of us who cannot enjoy the disappointment we have encountered. And it’s not because our expectations are too high. I’ve worn that hair shirt enough to know when I have “wisdom to know the difference”.
That was not the end of the effect of this dream.
Two days later, at lunch with my friend, Susan, I shared the same dream story. She didn’t laugh!
Susan’s life has not included church to the same extent as mine, but she has the heart that would make a Saint sit up and take notice. In fact, I will write about her fascinating spirit journey and post it soon.
No, Susan did not laugh. She said, “Yep! If that isn’t a perfect description of how Jesus comes into our lives… in his various disquises! And isn’t that just what he finds from most of us?”
Susan’s insight nailed me. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be one to walk over to that pew, shake his hand and make sure he has the right page of the song book. I want to look into his eyes and recognize a soul more pure than a baby’s laughter. I want to trust my gift of discernment and receive divinity when it is before me.