Or take this morning’s vision, for example. I say my prayers, per usual. My Divine Hours prayers. My Phyllis Tickle compiled book of psalms, hymns, New Testament passages, passages from Christian literature, prayers, poems, and so forth. The day divided into four prayer times, four groups of prayers.
But I. I. Being lazy about the thing. I do all four of them in the morning. Oh, typically about 5:30 or so. It takes about 20 or 30 minutes to do all four sessions at one go. I say them out loud. Read them out loud. But quietly. Softly. Because Pat is still sleeping. Then I ease back in my recliner. A typically American way of praying. Kind of like watching TV. And pray some more.
Pray for my ill sister. Pray for an ill friend at work. Pray for my children. My wife. My brothers. My parents. People I love. People I don’t particularly love but that. Well. I want to pray for. Various and sundry, in other words. Then let the mind rest. Let the heart rest. Let the soul rest in all the God talk I’ve been saying and thinking. Rest in the river of words I have been speaking to God. Ride on the current of love he returns to me as I send my current of love and praise and thanksgiving and petitioning for those I love and those I only know back to him. Kind of an alternating current of love flowing back and forth between us.
So as I say, I rest in that. Per usual. The quotidian morning love fest to kick off the day down the right road, so to say.
Various images. Various thoughts. Various words. All scrambled. Montage-like action of the mind. But then I settle. Then there is nothing but the floating. The floating on the circulating current of love.
Then a man approaches out of the distance. He is a kindly man. I don’t recognize him, but I do. I can’t for the moment say his name, but he is very familiar. I have a feeling we know one another very well. He is smiling and looking at me steadily.
And he has in his arms a baby. A precious infant. Oh maybe several months old. Old enough to make eye contact. To smile. To laugh. We look at one another and smile. We laugh. We do this for awhile.
Then the kindly man hands me the baby. It’s so quick, I can’t raise my arms in time to take it. The man releases it. And it falls. I come to myself again, trying to catch it before it falls and hits its head on the arm of my chair. Or worse yet might fall to the floor. I wake and in my broad waking discover the room again. Myself again. And there is no longer the kindly man or the happy baby.
What does this mean, I want to know? What is this about? And I immediately have the feeling it has to do with church. I don’t know why I go there, but I do. Which church, I want to know. What church?
And I honestly don’t know. Is it the one I left 11 months ago? Maybe. Is it the one I attend now? Maybe. Is it an admonition from God? A conclusion concerning my behavior toward my former church? A conclusion about my clumsiness?
Had God given me my former church and had I dropped it, hurting it in the process, as a baby would be hurt if dropped? Was God giving me another church to hold? To nurture? To take care of? And was this a caution? Was this God telling me to be more careful this time? Not so clumsy this time?
Was it one or the other? Was it both?
Or was it a prediction? A prediction of what will happen with my new church, if I don’t wake up? If I don’t pay attention?
Or was it after all about something else? Was it about one or the other of my children or my wife or something at work that I am being asked to do?
Was it about Jesus? Was the baby Jesus and the man God himself? Have I let Jesus down. Have I hurt Jesus?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But I do come away thinking about what I have done and what I can do. What I should do and should not do. Say and not say. Differently. I don’t know what it means, but it does change me. It has changed me. I do feel like this is God.
I do feel like. Well. I don’t want to do that again.