Finding God’s Grace in a dream.
Originally published 2000
Happened last night, in a dream. Most wonderful. I was on “leave” of some sort, and working with a blonde-headed woman. Don’t recall the details. Something she did, or something she said, made me glow. I had a conversion/epiphany/enlightment right then. It felt minor. Not big at all. But it was a change inside. A new understanding. (I wish I could remember what she did, or what happened at that point. But the story goes on…)
Time passes. I did other things, though I don’t recall what. I returned to prison (!). When I arrive, I have two packages — a framed picture (in real life, I have one I’m waiting to give to a friend) and a small wrapped cube of some sort. I get in, take my seat, and immediately get up and go to the (warden’s?) office. She is there, talking with three other people. I interrupt for a moment and give her the gifts, lingering just long enough to see the radiant look of joy when she sees the picture. That was the effect I intended! Yeah!
I go back and take my seat. I had returned with one person, and we had “dessert” waiting for us. “Dessert” was a pair of dirty shorts. I remember thinking, “What an indignation!”, but I begin eating without complaint, and I don’t feel indignant. The overseer comes over and starts putting crumpled things (like stones) under my toes, in my sandals. It’s supposed to hurt when I walk. My initial reaction is to stand and ask, loudly, if torture is allowed. But I stand, and I feel no pain. More importantly, I feel no animosity.
At this point, I realize that I have been a hardened criminal most of life, and I am being treated this way because of my past interactions with these people. There is no question of forcing them to change their opinion. It does not even arise. I simply accept. And I say “sir” a lot.
I’m standing, and being addressed by the fellow. I have to apologize for a distraction, and I give him my full attention once again. He asks, were you praying? With some surprise, I realize I was. I say yes, sir. But the prayer was without words. It was a prayer to remain in God’s Grace, to continue experiencing and expressing God’s love.
I wake, and lie in bed trying to remember what the event was that precipitated that entry into Grace. I’ve had angry dreams in the past, bordering on violence. This could have been one. But it was far from that. Last night, I had watched a Stephen Segal movie about saving the ecology. He’d blown up lots of stuff, and knocked around a lot of people. But he’d had a wise counselor, and it ended with a call to connect with the environment — with the universe that is God.
Maybe the movie played a part in that dream. I kept recalling how I didn’t react in the prison. Was I forgiving? Yes, but there was no action of forgiving. There was no start to the forgiving. There was simply a “space of forgiveness” that I was in the center of.
After waking, I thought how well that attitude played with the authority hierarchy, but how it was likely to be a problem with the prison crowd. But I could see persevering until it was accepted, just as it would take perseverence before the authorities would accept that it wasn’t an act.
But, of course, there was no goal of getting them to accept it. The reward was in the attitude, not in others’ recognition of it. I could see a parole hearing:
- “Do ask us to believe that this conversion is real?”
- “That is for you to judge.”
- “It’s pretty convenient timing, isn’t it?”.
- “Yes. I have to agree that the timing is convenient. I can understand why you would be skeptical.”
(Shrug shoulders. Smile. Not much I can do about the timing.)
- “Are you going to agree with everything I say?”
- “No. Only to the truth, as far as I can perceive it.”
But is the answer to the first question that is the most intriquing. “That is for you to judge.” Interesting answer, that. That is the only possible (honest) answer, because the question deals with the person’s perception of you. Only time forms their perception. What they experience, what they hear from others, over time, creates a perception. And an initial perception, once gained, is not easily changed, in most cases. To respond, “I don’t ask you to believe that”, is to deny your inner truth. To respond, “I do ask you to believe that” is to change your focus from living your truth to making another believe your truth, with an emphasis on making.
Somehow, the insight that was transmitted from the blonde-headed woman’s actions included an awareness that you can’t make a person believe things — and that it was wrong to try. They have to come to accept it of their own accord.
This dream occurred after a song-writing class I was taking. A girl had been singing a song she wrote about some of the painful moments she experienced in high school. I remembered when I, too, had dwelled in the pain of the past — literally carrying it with me from moment to moment — and I realized how lucky I was to have had the guidance I needed to drop that burden. (My guidance had come from Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim.) The gratitude I felt and the recognition of the freedom I experienced undoubtedly led to the dream!
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