I don’t usually remember my dreams. I used to think that I didn’t have many dreams, but then in 11th grade psychology I learned that people dream every night, and we just don’t remember all (or often any) of our dreams. Is that true? I don’t know, but it sounds true.
Last night I had a dream I remember. Still. It was a strange, and powerful emotional experience – maybe difficult to talk about it? So I decided to write about it.
The dream was thematically separated in to two “acts.” The first act was very different from the first, and fuzzier in my mind than the second, but it leads to the second, so I’ll tell you what I remember.
There was some kind of breakdown of society. Like in the movies. People were running around, and there were guns and shooting. I had a gun, and I was shooting. Like happens in most of my dreams where I have a gun, my gun malfunctioned a lot. I’d pull the trigger and it wouldn’t fire, or I’d pull the trigger, and instead of bullets coming out these slow moving, inaccurate, plastic projectiles would come out. I tried switching to another gun, but that one didn’t work either. Typical.
I found myself leaving where I was and going to another place (like I said, it’s fuzzy). I encountered a group of guys, one of whom said he was going to shoot me. For some reason, that made the other guy mad, and he shot the first guy, then told another guy to shoot me. In my awoken state, the logic behind such decisions seems shaky at best, and perhaps it was that lack of logic behind the man’s decision that caused me to let down my guard. Or perhaps, with my malfunctioning weapons I had no option of defense. It’s hard to say, because again, that part is fuzzy. But what happened next is clear.
A man shot me twice in the torso, then put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger.
It felt so real.
Each bang was deafeningly loud, and the familiar smell of gunpowder filled my nostrils. All three shots were painful, but in quick succession. The last felt like I’d taken a baseball bat to the head for a split second, and then I felt numb, and everything went black. That is to say, visually everything went black. I was still thinking, still sitting there. I’m still alive. I was alive, but it was clearly different. I was numb, my consciousness felt wispier, like it could just disappear. My life was slipping out of me, and all I could do was sit there wait for it to go. I waited. I waited, and for some reason I wasn’t dead yet, though I felt I should have been.
My dreams rarely make much sense, and more often than not, neither do my actions in dreams.
“I can’t believe I’m still alive,” I said out loud.
The man who shot me must have heard me because he shot me again. He shot me and shot me, I don’t know how many times, but the bullets hurt, and immediately I knew they finished the job.
It was quick this time. No slow, slipping away, no consciously waiting and wondering why I was still alive. The pain was there for an instant and then it was gone, and then just as quickly I was conscious again.
Conscious, but dead. I knew I was dead. I could feel my wounds again, but I knew I was dead. Also I could see again, so I got up and started walking around. I knew I was dead, and even though I still felt like I was in my body, somehow I wasn’t in my body. I walked outside and down the street, slowly shuffling along due to the pain of my wounds.
I don’t know where I was exactly, but it seemed like some little old-world town. Brick streets and stucco walls. Probably some place like Italy or Croatia. Where am I going? What am I doing? I’m dead, what am I supposed to do next?
After walking for a while it occurred to me that this was no longer the right place for me. That earth was no longer the right place for me. How do I go? Do I fly? I figured I’d try, so I jumped as hard as I could, despite the dull pain in my bullet-ridden body. I jumped, and I ascended, and I was flying. I was flying!
So I flew.
I flew out over the town, and across fields. First I flew slowly, and then I began to speed up. The sun was setting, and the view was absolutely gorgeous. The red-orange sun rays were bouncing off buildings and trees and mountains and hills. I found myself flying over water, and I was going so fast, I knew it was time for me to turn upward.
As I turned up I sped up even faster, as if being pulled by an immeasurably powerful force. I went from going maybe hundreds of miles per hour, to faster than the speed of light, and everything was a flash around me.
And that’s when I arrived on the edge of heaven. I don’t know how I knew it was the edge of heaven, but I knew, and I felt exceedingly giddy, and joyful. I continued to fly, but there was a voice welcoming me, as if to give me instructions, and prepare me for my arrival. Oddly enough, the voice was going over what the next meal was going to be, and asking about my preferences, and I remember just not caring, and saying I was happy to have the first option I was given. The truth was I was too happy to give a coherent answer, too happy to care. Food? Sure, but I just don’t care about that right now.
And then I woke up.
I’ve never had a dream where I died before. Also, if you were wondering, I’ve never died in real life either. But there was something about this dream that was…powerful. Haunting.
As usually happens on Sunday mornings, Chérie, Joshua, and I went to church to worship, fellowship, and listen to our pastor deliver his sermon. In the second service Chérie went to help with the 1-year olds, and I with the 4th and 5th graders. My fellow teacher Jon was teaching on the birth of Christ in Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
In Matthew 2, three wise men from the East came to worship Jesus. I’m sure you know the story, so I’ll just paste this part, Matthew 2:10 – “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
I read that verse, and I felt able to identify with it so well that it almost brought me to tears. I looked down, and fought back the tears, unwilling to explain to Jon and the 4th and 5th graders why I might be crying in the middle of class.
The moment passed, and I recovered. But I cannot help but feel that I’ve come away with a deeper understanding of the joy of being in God’s presence. Incidentally, I had just been thinking a day or two ago about the concept of worshipping God for eternity in heaven. Would it get boring? I knew it wouldn’t, of course, but… it’s so difficult to fathom in my human mind.
I can’t say I understand it fully now, but it makes a little more sense. I think that our souls are delighted to be in God’s presence. Delighted. Beside myself. Next-level-giddy. Happy. These are the best words I can come up with to describe how I felt in a dream I had.