The First Step

I don’t believe that dreams are prophecies.

Well, now that I’ve ostracized a good number of folks, let me qualify the statement.  When I say dreams, I mean the normal sort.  You know–the ones we have when we lie down to sleep at night.  The ones made more vivid by that extra round of extra spicy Buffalo wings you had at dinner.  Or, the scary movie which was splashed across the television screen as you sat and dozed in your easy chair.

It doesn’t mean dreams aren’t meaningful.  They often are.  When we sleep, our minds go where they will, no longer guided and controlled by our discipline and resolve.  Things we already know about ourselves, but aren’t willing to think or talk about when awake, somehow can be revealed as images in our sleep.

I usually can’t remember what I dream about. 

Usually.  But, not last night.

Even before I was completely asleep, in the wee hours of this morning, I lay in bed and saw myself standing on the edge.  No, not the edge of a cliff, although I have seen that image in my head before, both in real life and in dreams.

The edge I stood upon was that of a circular hole in the floor beneath me.  The hole was large enough for a body to fit through comfortably.  Funny thing, I could look down the hole and see that it was lined with a white pipe, almost like PVC.

I could only see about ten feet down the pipe and then it curved out of sight.  Even in my half-awake state, I could feel my heart racing.  In my dream, I backed away from the pipe.  Then, drawn by some irresistible urge, I eased forward step by terrified step to peer downward once more.

I really dislike heights.  Heights without handrails, that is.  Give me a good grip on a handrail and I’ll look down from the highest cliff or the highest tower you could imagine.  There was no handrail here.

It was just a hole.  A hole that led somewhere–I couldn’t tell you where.

I knew it was a dream.  I knew it.  You know how your mind works.  It seems real, but you know it can’t be.  And besides, you’re lying in bed with the fan blowing on you.

It’s only a dream.  Jump!  What could happen?

No.  Wait!  What’s down around that curve?  You have no idea what’s down there! 

What if there’s no more to it than what you can see and it drops you into a bottomless pit (I hear those are real common in dreams)?  You’ll fall screaming forever.  All because you jumped into a hole you knew nothing about.

I considered the issues.  Really. 

In my dream. 

I wondered–Is this the only way I’ll ever really make the transition from restless dreams to deep sleep?  I have to trust myself to this tube that goes who-knows-where without any more information.  If you think about it, we do it every night.

Mr. Tolkien talks about roads that sweep you off your feet to foreign lands.  Sleep can do that too.  Really.

Perhaps the mystery slide is representative of a major decision which I need to make.  Life goals stand ready to be grasped, if only I’ll trust myself to the unknown depths.  I’ll never get there if I don’t take the plunge.

Decision time.  What will I do?

I take one last downward look and–I swing my legs over the side of the bed and go downstairs to get a drink.  When I return ten minutes later, the slide is no longer to be found and I sleep.

Ah, wonderful sleep.
                   

After attending church this morning, I came home to help the Lovely Lady prepare our traditional Sunday Dinner.  The feast for family and friends has come to be a high point of our week.  Food, discussions–escalating to disputes and then diminishing back to agreeable differences, jokes, and lovely memory-making are the stuff these times are made of.

There is a shadow over my memory of today’s feast. 

As I helped prepare the table, my brother sent me a text.  I wasn’t ready to read it yet.

“He doesn’t feel like she has a lot of time left.”

He is my Dad.  She is my Mom.

Tears came to my eyes without warning.  Even as I write these words, they come again.

Through my tears, I see that hole from my dream again.

I’m beginning to grasp it now.
                   

skycaliberwaterslideYou’ve seen them before, haven’t you?  Extreme water slides.  Thrill seekers flock to them every summer.  The drop in altitude is what they love–that quick plunge, setting them free from gravity for just a fraction of a moment, long enough to wonder if they’ll ever stop in time to avoid disaster.

They know they will.  It’s been safety tested.  Why, they even climbed the tower right beside the tube, exclaiming all the while about where each twist and turn will take place.  Pointing to the plastic pipe right beside them soaring up into the sky above, they know just where it starts and where it will end.

They know.  And they’re happy to take the plunge.

Because they know.
                   

The red-headed lady who raised me has been climbing for a good many years now.  She’s had lots of company along the way, but there is just One who has always been there.  Always.

The day is coming.  Soon, it seems.  No one can know for sure.

I can just see Him standing there smiling, asking her if she’s ready.  I don’t know if she’ll be frightened, like I was in my dream.  But, I do know her answer will be in the affirmative.

She’s ready.

He’ll wrap His strong arms close around her and they’ll take the first step together.  She’s never done this before.

But, He has.

And, He knows.

 

 

 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
(1 Timothy 1:7 ~ KJV)

 

I won’t have to cross Jordan alone
Jesus died for my sins to atone
In the darkness I see he’ll be waiting for me
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone…
(I Won’t Have To Cross Jordan Alone ~ Thomas Ramsey ~ American songwriter)

 

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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