Last night or early this morning, I had a dream that was the most engaging dream of the Church I have ever had. It had bits and pieces of real events but mostly it was built around a future event that I hope to attend sometime next year.
I have to admit I have been relatively depressed of late. It is a combination of some situational angst and the season of darkness that is upon us. Being imprisoned by ice sheets doesn’t help either.
As in all dreams, it had disconnected bits of symbolic content. It was very colorful and the colors depicted meaning. So bear with me as I try to describe this even that even at this moment remains palpable and hope-giving yet incredibly mysterious and mystifying.
I find myself at a workshop/retreat. There are not many in my particular group at the beginning. There are some people I know—not real, but ones from previous dreams. My group is supposedly for those who have failed to accomplish something. I was not especially thrilled about being there but I thought I needed to be. The people were all from my denomination—not my specific church or diocese.
There is another group meeting at the same time: A group I identified as Jewish. They meet
As my group began working on the tasks we were given in our workshop we were silent in our tasks. We were to design worship with no words. (How un-Episcopalian!)
Finally, I sat down at table and began to push some colored jelly-beans into a design. Others came to the table with me and helped push the jelly-beans around in the center of the table. Fairly soon I noticed that the color of our clothes matched the jellies we were touching. Some wore yellow, others a pale greens, pinks, Across the room the Jewish group was wearing deep purples and blues.
I wanted to attend their worship. The music that was coming from their group was deep and sonorous. I felt cradled by it and What I remember is that it was more like some archaic Orthodox Christian worship than modern Jewish, but it attracted me to a deep communion with the Holy.
Those in my group wanted to step around this kind of worship to something livelier. I held up my hands to signal, no. We needed to include this ancient understanding into our worship otherwise we would not touch that deeply resonating song of something so Beyond and so ancient. So we invited the Jewish group to join our worship—or to at least combine our worship.
There was a desire by the rabbi to exclude anything that was Christian, but slowly both Jewish and Slowly a dance began. It wasn’t the Hava Nagila but a slow line dance in which everyone, young The pastel Episcopalians began to intertwine with the deep purple and blue clad. The worship of all that was holy was in each step, each eye contact of the dancers. The lightly held hands held aloft became the orans of the mass. The table we danced around became both altar and Ark. But it was the dance that was the communion, the worship, the liturgy of wonder and praise.
Slowly the retreatants merged with others. Denominations merged. Different faiths joined. The dance was no longer in a confined place but in the streets and fields of the world. Still no words were spoken.
The color of our clothes denoted the gifts we had been given to dance the dance. Yellow denoted joy. Green was for those who had the ability to create. I am not sure what light blues denoted, but pinks were the sign of grace. There was a desire by some to provide a single white garment for the dance. No, I motioned. The dance is more beautiful with the various colors. But I made it known that purple had to be at the bottom of each white robe. It was our tie to the ancient and connected us with a future.
As I woke, I knew I had touched something in me that once had been broken but was now healed. I asked the Holy One to remember it well enough to write it down. There were other bits and pieces to this bubble in my sleep that would take too much to explain—and probably would make no sense to anyone but me. That is the nature of dreams. I don’t care to analyze it because I don’t think dreams are to be analyzed. They are the way we work out unconsciously that which is winding us up in our waking moments. But I awoke more hopeful than I have been about the Church recently.
I am more peaceful about the old Church dying now. I am not afraid of losing her. The dance of faith will continue. And the more that we hang on to the jots and tittles of how we have always done it, or the rules and regulations will mean that we will not learn the dance steps to experience the Holy One. Yes, we need to cling to that which gives meaning, but not the exclusionary efforts that all faiths, all denominations cling to in order to define themselves.
I guess it wasn’t the liverwurst…after all.