A Beggar At Home

A few nights ago I had a nightmare. I don’t usually have them, but within the past couple of weeks I’ve had two. Boredom, bad news, and an over-active imagination are a bad combination. Saturday morning, I had a hilarious dream. The dream was that it was all over. We were done with the “plague.” My friend had an even bigger music studio, and as Barnes and Noble has Starbucks in the store, the studio had a Burger King, so I was eating chicken nuggets at the music studio.

My mom has invented what I call Apocalypse Pizza. To make Apocalypse pizza you use Naan bread, olive oil, mozzarella cheese, and whatever other toppings you like. For me, it’s peppers and onions. It’s really easy to make and everyone in my family likes it. The problem? We’ve been eating almost nothing but Apocalypse Pizza for several days, or maybe a week. When I finished doing my Morning Prayer yesterday, and went to the kitchen, she said, “Do you want pizza?” I couldn’t forget my dream, so we went to the Burger King drive through.

Since I ate lunch in the car, we took a little drive to see if anyone was out, what was still open, etc. There’s a small lake close to where I live in Massachusetts. It’s a little weird because it’s in the middle of the town and is surrounded by pavement and business. It’s a very popular place for people to take a walk. It’s so popular that the Mayor asked people to refrain from “walking the lake.” When we went over there yesterday, it was packed.

We are creatures of habit, and as Americans, we don’t like being told what to do. Furthermore, humans are social animals, and “social distancing” and “quarantining” can be downright stressful. We’ve been asked to make sacrifices. No one likes sacrificing because it means discomfort. What’s more is that there are many cases when one has Covid-19 and has no symptoms. In these cases, one might assume they are perfectly healthy, visit a friend, young nephew or niece, grandparent, or whoever who is vulnerable that person ends up getting it, and getting it bad. It is better to assume one has it.

I’m really bored. I can’t do a really significant part of my work because I can’t go to the studio. I sympathize with those who absolutely have to go out to go to work, but to those who see this as an accidental vacation, please; as of yesterday, we have 304,826 confirmed cases of this in the United States. Please don’t walk the lake. Please don’t bring your kids to the playground. Please don’t go to the beach. We’ve been asked to stay at home until the end of April. We will likely be asked to stay at home for longer than that. This “plague” will die out sooner than later if everyone would just stay home.

It does mean making at least some of your own food instead of getting takeout all the time. It means finding more ways to entertain yourself and your kids because you can only watch so much Netflix. It might mean making your own coffee instead of going to Starbucks. I get that it’s inconvenient. I completely get that it’s a little lonely. I’m not asking this of you from the outside. I am asking this of you as somebody who is doing these things, too. I am asking this of you as somebody who can’t see her friend, and can’t fully celebrate the most important holiday of her faith.

Sacrificing and discomfort does suck. Being told what to do sucks. You might not be a man or woman of faith, and you might believe that this life is all there is. I won’t try to persuade you otherwise here. Still, you are being forced to sacrifice; your gym is probably closed, the restaurants you like are probably closed, and you are probably working from home. For me, I can stay home and stay inside because I can offer that as a sacrifice to my God. If you don’t know, or don’t believe that God exists, I’m begging you to make that same sacrifice simply for the good of the rest of the world, or even just to make your life more enjoyable.

Please, consider the beggar.

Thanks.

A Strange Dream

A few nights ago I had a very simple dream. This in itself is odd because my dreams are never simple. I’m usually embarking on one epic quest or another and they don’t usually make too much sense. In the dream I was in a seemingly endless, empty white room with no one else in it except me and a man wearing a somewhat strange outfit. The only thing I remember distinctly is a white fur coat. I was looking for Jesus and since there was no one else there, I assumed this was him. As soon as I started talking to him, however, two things happened.

Firstly, I quickly realized that this wasn’t who I was looking for, and secondly, a man who was a mirror image of the first man showed up out of nowhere. Since this was a dream I didn’t think this odd at all, so I went over to the second man assuming that, once again, this must be Jesus. Interestingly, though he looked exactly like the first man, he had a completely different personality. Once again, however, as soon as I began talking to him, I realized that this, too was not Jesus. The process repeated over and over, every time producing more and more men who looked exactly alike but had completely different personalities.

Then I stopped. Finally I knew this wasn’t working. By now there were countless men I hadn’t even spoken to yet, all who looked alike, and who, I could guess, all had different personalities, but were not Jesus. So I tried a new strategy. If I spoke to no one, they did not speak to me, so I simply wandered around and looked. They all looked the same. Eventually a theory popped into my head: maybe these are all different versions or parts of who Jesus is or even how people perceive him, and I have to find the one I’m looking for.

Shortly after that, however, I realized this was an absurd thought and there is only one Jesus. Only one. As soon as I realized this, I saw a man who looked like the others in that he had the same facial features and hair, but I distinctly remember him wearing much less elegant clothes. What was also distinctly different was that, unlike the others who were standing, he was sitting on a rock, his feet were in a pool of water, and he looked very weak, like he was about to fall over. This scared me. I wanted him to be okay. I knew this was Jesus, and once I was sure of it, he got up unsteadily, came over to me and gave me a hug. He said a few words, but I don’t remember what he said. I woke up after that.

I don’t think he actually said much, and I’m not really sure how important it was in the end. If he had wanted me to remember it, I would have. It’s easy to forget things between dreaming and waking up. I think what was important was the entirety of the dream itself. I learned a lot of things that I already knew in part, but that hadn’t entirely solidified in my mind.

In Mathew 24, Jesus warns of “false prophets:” people who preach things that sound like truth but really turn people away from the Truth. He warns of wars, famine, and natural disasters, and he warns that people will hate his followers because of what they (we) believe. He says that his followers need to be careful and not be fooled. There were a lot of people in my dream who looked like him, but who weren’t him, and it took me quite a while to figure that out.

What was interesting, however, was the real difference in appearances. The other men in my dream may have looked like him to some degree, but as soon as I talked to them, I knew I was talking to the wrong people. Not only that, but they looked strong, well dressed, and dignified, while Jesus did not. Jesus doesn’t present himself as above anyone. We find him in simple things and small acts of kindness. He humbles himself despite the fact that he is the Son of God. He is a part of the Holy Trinity. That’s kind of insane.

What hit me most of all was the very end of the dream. When I found him, he looked exhausted, like he was going to faint, and I felt responsible, as if it wouldn’t have been so bad if I had found him sooner. I was so surprised to find him like this that I hesitated, and I felt bad about that, too, but before I could even move to help him, he was getting up. When he hugged me it was the most relieving feeling I’ve had in a very long time, and it was in a dream.

I just wanted to write this all down and share it with whoever finds it interesting or helpful. I would love to hear what anyone has to say. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

 

Those Places

Sometimes my epilepsy gives me weird symptoms. I won’t go into all of them, but one thing is particularly interesting. Sometimes it doesn’t do much other than give a distorted visual image. The funny thing is, I can describe this image in quite a lot of detail. Usually, when I get this visual distortion, I see a room. It’s not just any room. It’s like it’s made up of colored light, like the light one sees when the sun is shining through a window and colors appear on the floor. There is a big window across from me. I can never see what’s outside the window, but it’s always there. There is also sometimes the silhouette or shadow of a desk, and a man sitting at the desk. The image always comes and goes very quickly. I often wish I could see more.

Very recently there was darkness on my mind. It was more than just sadness. It was like I had discovered a dark place in my soul. It wasn’t an epileptic symptom. I was trying to make sense of things, and instead of an explanation, I saw this. It was mountainous. There were no trees or plants. I don’t know what was behind me, but ahead, there was an expanse of gray stone, and in the distance, rocky hills. There was darkness all around me, but there was light on the horizon. The light barely reached me, but it reached, nonetheless, dimly showing me where I was. Initially, I wanted the light to go away. I wanted it to let the darkness take over. It was like the light was alive. After a couple of days this image or idea went away and took the darkness with it.

When I was younger, mostly when I was in high school, I would fantasize about meeting the perfect man; the love of my life. I had this image in my head of a man in a dark room, down on his knees, praying for me, because I was praying for him. My heart ached for this person I was waiting for; who I had made up. I sometimes tried to visualize myself in that room, bending down to touch him, and to help him up, but for some reason, I never could. I eventually said goodbye to him. I said, “I’m sorry. We’re never going to meet. You’re waiting for someone else, and I bet you’ll meet her.” I’ve only thought about him a few times since, and even then, only briefly. I think he has found who he was waiting for.

I did find who I was waiting for. I had a dream about him. I was in complete darkness, but for some reason I could see his silhouette. He told me to follow him, so I did until I saw a light off in the distance. He said again to follow him. Then I woke up. I wonder if the man at the desk in the room of light is the same person. I think I’ll find myself in that room someday. It always seems like I can see the light, but I’m not always in the light. It seems that sometimes to find the light, you have to find the darkness first. You have to see war to recognize peace. You have to be lonely to recognize love.

In that dark place in my mind, I initially wanted the light to go away. That initial desire only lasted a minute because as soon as I realized what I was feeling, I wanted the light to stay. I couldn’t let it leave. I held onto it for dear life. It wasn’t just light. If it had gone, I would have been alone. There was healing in the light that hurt my eyes at first. It said, “Don’t look away. Come this way. Just keep looking. Follow me.” I want to make that place brighter. If there is light in me, I want to find a way to let it shine.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Three Dreams

Last night I had a few very weird dreams.

The first was that the world was ending and no one knew how to save it except for one really annoying guy who no one wanted to talk to. That dream didn’t really go anywhere, except that I eventually ended up talking to him because I didn’t want the world to end. The problem was that I couldn’t understand what he was saying for some reason, so I just sort of had to follow him and do what I thought he was trying to tell me.

Then I had two similar dreams.

My second dream was that everyone had a number over their head and depending on what they were doing, or how healthy they were, the number went up or down. I was at Canobe Lake Park with my cousins, and a girl somehow got hurt on the Corkscrew. Her number went down to zero, but she refused to die.

My third dream was that there was some kind of disaster in a big storage building. A few workers got trapped in there and there was a fire. One guy got half his body burned, but he was completely calm and peaceful while he waited for help that eventually did come.

I try not to read too much meaning into dreams unless I’m absolutely sure I’m supposed to. I’m not sure about these ones. For some reason I have a lot of dreams about disasters or the end of the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because I watch too many movies. Anyway, I don’t think these are too important. I just want to remember them I guess, so I figured I’d write them down.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Because It Really Does Work

I was in a class that I hate last night, and there was a guest speaker. She was a retired preschool teacher and the wife of the minister at her church. She came to tell my class a story. She brought props. She came to tell us a story about how she and her family got through her husband’s cancer, her cancer, and her recent knee surgery. It got real really fast.

I remember reading a book called “90 Minutes In Heaven.” It was about a preacher who got into a really bad car accident and had a near death experience. Actually, he technically did die. His heart stopped and he saw amazing things before he was resuscitated. He spent a long time in the hospital and had to go through a really arduous and painful recovery.

What these two stories had in common is this: the characters in them were not alone. The lady in class last night said that she and her family would not have got through two cancer diagnoses and recoveries if they hadn’t had people praying for them. They knew that they had people and God on their side, and it was tremendously helpful to them psychologically, but also, they–and I– believe spiritually, in that the prayer itself made a real, significant difference.

The preacher in the story I read had given up on life. Towards the beginning of his recovery, there was one night when he was lying there in the hospital and decided to stop living. This decision had a real, physiological effect. He started dying. His friend, who was also a preacher came and told him that he may have given up, but his friends were going to hold an all night prayer vigil and were not going to let him die. They did that, and miraculously, the preacher started getting better and completely recovered relatively quickly.

I know from experience that it sometimes feels like praying is futile. Sometimes prayers are answered, and sometimes they’re not, and we have no idea why. Sometimes our prayers are answered in ways we don’t understand; in ways that don’t really seem like answers at all. Sometimes we have to wait. Sometimes, even if our prayers are answered and we’re sure of it, we despair because of all the prayers (our own or not) that don’t get answered. Sometimes we despair because the world and its problems are very big and we are small.

I read a quote–by whom I forget–that said something along the lines of: hope and despair are not polar opposites. They are out of the same mold. The only difference is that hope holds on to something. Hope believes in some kind of future. Hope allows for love, while despair is weirdly narcissistic.

As individuals we are small, but together we are huge. Metaphysics suggest that all beings are interconnected in a mesh that is meant to work as one individual, or mechanism. Sociology suggests that humans are social animals that are happier and more productive when working and playing in groups. Religion suggests that we are meant to worship God together and work together to better the world.

So many times it seems that when people pray in groups, those prayers are answered. When people pray together, miracles happen. When people pray together, mountains get moved…. That’s not to say that individual prayers aren’t as powerful. God loves each individual person equally, and pays just as much attention to the lonely hiker lost in the mountains as he does to the mega churches on Sundays.

That being said, there seems to be some kind of power in numbers. I know that, for some reason, I find it easier to pray when I’m with other people. I also feel more genuine when I’m praying with other people. Sometimes when I’m praying by myself, I get distracted, or I don’t say what I really want or need to say. Sometimes I try to pray for something I know I should care about, but actually really sort of don’t.

A couple nights ago I had a dream. A knight was charged with the defense of the castle while the king was away. He was strong, and a good fighter, and fully capable of doing his job. However, he was not quite capable of dealing with a supernatural threat. At one point, a demon showed up in the castle and attacked the knight, nearly killing him. The knight said, “Please, have mercy on me.” The demon obliged, but said that the knight must leave the castle and that he would be forever shamed. The knight left and went to hide away in a dark place. Then he said, “Lord, let there be courage where there is fear; let there be strength where there is weakness; let there be love where love is lost; let there be faith where there is none.” I had not been a character in the dream up until that point, but then I came into the dream as kind of a spirit-thing, and gave him a hug. That was it.

I think his prayer was wicked good, and I’ve been using it when I can. I’m really not sure what my part meant. I guess I’ll leave you with that. That is my prayer for tonight; that there would be courage where there is fear; that there would be strength where there is weakness; that there would be love where love is lost; that there would be faith where there is none in this crazy world.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Change

I just thought I’d update everyone after yesterday’s tangent. Several things happened after I posted. Almost right after I hit “publish,” my phone informed me that another blogger “liked” my post and started following my blog. I was curious, so I hopped on over to his site. Oddly enough, the first thing I found was a post trying to discredit everything in the Bible. I politely posted a comment about what I thought: namely that the Bible is not 100% historically or scientifically accurate, but that does not mean that what it asserts is not true.

I don’t need a written document to tell me that God exists, that he is all powerful, and that Jesus loves me. I have felt that and feel it now and intrinsically know it. The Bible just affirms it.

It took me a while to fall asleep last night because I was all confused and worried. However, I eventually did fall asleep after coming to this conclusion: at some point, I have to decide what is true and what I believe. Last night I had to decide whether I could continue believing in Jesus or not. I can, not because of facts or knowledge, but because of what I have felt and experienced. Faith is about having a relationship with God, and it’s impossible to do that based on facts alone.

I still don’t really know why I had that dream the other night, but I don’t think it matters. Not only do I know, but I feel that I can trust the Lord. I think if it meant that I have to change something, then that something needs to be how outspoken I am about my faith. I talk about it quite a bit on the internet, but with people I actually come in contact with, I’m not too noisy. Without being annoying, I’m going to change that.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

My Brain Has Such Good Timing

Two nights ago I had a really bad dream. It wasn’t scary; in fact, it was really mellow compared to a lot of my dreams. However, what it implied about me as a person was awful.

I have very vivid dreams, and most of the time, they’re just ridiculous and don’t mean anything. Sometimes, though, I know there is something more important going on in my head.

My dream on Sunday night was this:

I was on a tour of this underground museum, and we were in this crypt where they had the bones of a bunch of dead saints in stone boxes. At the end of the tour, the guide said they had the bones of Jesus in another room. A bunch of the people who were also on the tour got all excited so we went into the other room to see. At first the box had Jesus’ name on it, but then it changed to gibberish. Then the tour was over and we all left, at which point I woke up.

At first I just thought the dream was weird, but then I realized that there were several problems with it. First, why would I dream this in the first place? Second, why didn’t I question the guy: where did they find the bones? How did they find them? How did they know whose they were? Third, and I think most importantly, what does it say about my faith?

I spent almost all day yesterday freaking out about this. After a conversation with my friend, however, I came to a conclusion: I don’t doubt God. I don’t doubt his existence, I don’t doubt his power, and I don’t doubt my salvation. I doubt my faith. I think this dream means I’m going to fail somehow, and I don’t want to. My friend suggested that this dream could just be the Enemy being an asshole (my words, not hers) and I hope she’s right. She said that everyone has some little bit of doubt, and sometimes Satan will feed that doubt, so I ought to feed my faith however I can.

I guess I’m not really sure how to do that. I need some kind of assurance. There’s a difference between knowing something and feeling something. I know that God loves me and that we’re okay, but I feel like something is very wrong, and I don’t know exactly what it is, and I ought to just be left behind. That’s what’s really bugging me: I don’t know what the problem is, so I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t even know what to pray for. I know something has to change, and I have to change it. I feel that. I also have to finish a paper, write a completely new paper, finish a fairly large project and study for a really difficult exam before next Monday. My brain has such good timing. I guess all I can do right now is hold on and take a shot in the dark. I’m going to spend a little bit of time tonight trying to figure things out, but distracting myself with school stuff might work just as well, at least for now. Once I’m on break I can focus on it more.

Prayers and comments are appreciated.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!