all the bells and whistles

I had a lovely weekend, full of friends and coffee dates (Panera’s greek salads and ciabatta bread—that I made into Garlic bread—are AMAZING) and movies (The Two Towers) and piano concerts (sigh), and could easily post more fully on any one of those, but instead I want to write about a dream I had last night. I dream often, and most of them are very very strange. One, for example, involved a professor waking me up to give me the answer to one of my deepest questions, one involved a physical plant worker trying to “talk to his daughter” after visiting hours, and another one has involved my chiropractor coming to the Gordon library to talk about the results of X-Rays I had taken on my neck (ok, so a lot of my dreams have been related to Gordon—typical, I suppose:-)). Last night’s was unusual by qualification of something other than simply being bizarre.

The dream took place at my graduation from Gordon (which is called commencement, and which isn’t for another year for me) and involved many people I’ve come to consider intrinsic to my Gordon experience, including classmates, friends that have since graduated, my parents, and Naomi, the wife of my priest. Naomi is particularly important to this dream, as she was the commencement speaker. Sitting in fold-down chairs on the campus quad (where graduations in nice weather take place), those in attendance faced towards the Jenks library and listened to Naomi give a message of encouragement to the graduating seniors. It was a wonderfully sunny day, and Naomi walked in front of us, doling out the typical words of congratulations, and then she stopped talking. Very slowly she bent down by one of the flowerbeds that beautifully decorate the sidewalk in front of the library, and picked a lavender flower which looked something like a cross between a bluebell and a daffodil. Turning back to us she said (and I will try to recall this as verbatim as I can, so please bear with me):

“I’ve often wondered at why God chose to create me as a human. In those moments when I feel acutely aware of Him, by whatever divine gift he deigns appropriate, I long to be an angel, privileged enough to spend day in and day out in God’s presence, and not on this fallen and suffering earth. Instead of seeing God face to face as I’ve longed for my whole life, I’m here, in this world of sin and pain and broken things, and I wish I could see and be seen by God.

“Then I am made to remember that this particular flower exists. It’s called a lute, and when the wind blows through a patch of them they make a musical sound much like bells, and it is beautiful music. I listen, and I know a bit of why I am here and not with the Lord. I am too enthralled by the lutes of this world. I am stunned and awakened by the alarms of this broken earth, and until I can learn to listen to those from the next I am not ready for that place. So God has kept me here to learn to listen, and when I am ready he will draw me near, but until then, the lutes of this world are holding me back from hearing his voice, and his alone. I am not yet ready.”

I looked it up as soon as I woke up: lutes, at least as flowers, don’t exist, I’m afraid. I don’t know why I had this particular dream, or what I’m to do with it (or what you, dear readers, are supposed to do with it), but in talking with soon-to-be-graduates who are struggling with the “five year plan” and the strange tension that is surrendering plans to God while remaining actively involved in the expression of academic ability and passion, I’ve been incredibly aware of the promise of God’s peace, and the great joy that is listening for his voice, and listening hard, and searching for echoes of Heaven even here, even now. I’ll stop soon to avoid preaching, but as we search beyond the shadows and haze of this world, I pray that the hope of knowing God may one day be realized fully, and that we all may be woken by the lutes and alarms of Heaven, and open ourselves up to being made ready by him.


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