Saturday, December 30, 2006

Weird dreams

Do you ever have weird dreams? I always try to remember my dreams, but often they're just hazy recollections, quickly forgotten once I rise to begin my day. As I lay in my bed last night for hours unable to sleep, I remembered some really strange dreams I've had over the years. I'm not a good interpreter of dreams, but I do believe they speak to us in some way. My most vivid dream occurred many years ago, when I was still pretty newly clean.

Pope John Paul II was still alive. I dreamed I was on a huge-grass covered hill, probably Golden Gate Park, with hundreds and hundreds of other people. We were waiting for the Pope's appearance. Suddenly across the sky the Pope appeared in a giant hot air balloon, fashioned to look exactly like his face. He (rather the two Popes) looked down at the crowds, and I'm sure right at me. He blessed us, waving his hand first down from his face then across his chest.

We were all running after the hot air balloon on the gently rolling hill, all arms stretched up, hands extended as if reaching for the Pope. I was wearing cutoffs and suddenly, they exploded, blowing bits of denim everywhere. The pope balloon drifted slowly out of sight.

I saw a blog or website once devoted to dream interpretation. I sent this dream description to them asking "What do you think this means?"

I received a terse reply. "You are a very sick woman." I already knew that. They did not enlighten me at all.
When I was in college, John Paul came to San Francisco to speak so I covered the event for my college newspaper from outside, an article focused on the crowd and their reaction to the Pope. The streets were lined with people waiting to see him, and for hours I stood next to a person who were hilariously irreverent. The entire time he had the crowd laughing with Italian jokes, Catholic jokes, Irish jokes and Pope jokes.
Having been raised Catholic but having fallen away by then despite one try at returning (I quit the returning Catholics class after being chewed out by the woman who ran it, one of the things I didn't need from organized religion and still don't), and I never thought covering the story would have any impact on me.
We waited those hours, people chattered among themselves, laughing, yelling to each other when they spotted people they knew. Suddenly, a hush fell on the crowd from my right and everyone craned their heads to look. The Pope came toward us, standing in his Popemobile, his arm raised in benediction toward the crowds, first right and then left. The crowd fell completely silent.
I felt this incredible awe, this visceral feeling that I was looking at God's representative on earth. What surprised me and continues to this day is how deeply moved I was by his presence.
I continue today to be drawn back to the Catholic church. I get almost furious when some (many fundamentalists are so close-minded toward the Catholics) suggest that Catholicism is a "wrong" religion. Their smug superiority is really irritating to me. It immediately makes me think of my mother, one of the greatest Christians I have ever know, rotting in Hell because she believed with all her heart that the Catholic church was her salvation. Then I think of Mother Theresa and wonder if Christians feel she, too, failed to achieve salvation despite her amazing deeds here on earth.
I hope someday to be half the Christian my mother was. If I achieve that, I know that my loving God will welcome me home.


vicariousrising said...

I had the opportunity to see Pope John Paul II when he gave his 20th anniversary sermon in St. Peter's Square. We had some awesome tickets that were up front, but the mob of little old Catholic nuns separated my group of 5 (including five foot tall me carrying my three year old son) in the rush to get as close as possible to this representative of God. Almost knocked me over a few times. When we finally got seated, all my husband was way behind, my mother-in-law and my husband's aunt were way up front and my son and I shared a seat somewhere in the middle. Once all seated, the nuns were quite nice to us.

I know what you mean about the complete silence. I think every car in all of Rome was silenced when the Pope appeared. It was surreal. I truly think I could have heard a pin drop.

Even with all of my religious skepticism, I know God was there, in some form. I felt it in that moment of silence. I felt it when I was in the Sistine Chapel, I felt it in the Cathedral. It was not, however, in the so called religious fervor of those nuns shoving us aside.

I can't imagine that your mother or Mother Teresa are wrong. God is in beauty and quiet places. How can that be punished? If that is God, I want no part of it, so I choose to believe in something more beautiful than that.

SCoUt said...

Wouldn't a loving G-d welcome you home even if you weren't a Christian at all?