May 23, 2010
I always tell people I rebelled against my parents by staying in school and not taking drugs. Let’s face it, I’m not the adventurous type. I don’t even like legal supersensory experiences, like rollercoasters or horror movies or nitrous at the dentist. In most circumstances, the feeling of being out of control is just not one I seek out.
Yet being sober all the time takes its toll, and it seems to come out in my dreams. Sometimes I’m sick of being me, so I dream I’m someone else completely. Once I dreamed I was a beautiful young woman being randomly attacked by two strangers who completely overpowered me physically. They knocked me unconscious momentarily and my dream-self awoke smiling, saying with genuine warmth, “You know, I bet you are wonderful people. I’m sorry I had to meet you this way.” My assailants exchanged a shocked glance, dropped me, and scuttled away.
I remember the rush of waking up, thinking, Who was that I just got to be?
One spring morning I had a dream unlike any other I’ve ever had. I don’t even remember the context, but suddenly I felt electrified. There’s really no other word for it. Like the electric shock that used to travel up my arm when I pushed the metal button wrong on my family’s ancient dryer, but all over my being. I felt like my hair was frizzing out cartoonishly. I could move, but it felt more like I was being moved by this current of energy rushing through me, its chosen conduit.
Yet unlike the burn of real electricity, the energy filling me in the dream felt wonderful. It felt so good I almost felt guilty. The word “possession” flashed through my mind. I struggled momentarily with my old fear of losing control of myself, the thing that keeps me away from roller coasters and risky behavior, but I realized I didn’t want to escape the current, even if I could have. How bad could it be to trade myself away to become a tiny part of this gloriousness? How could I choose to camp out in the tiny tent of my body, ignoring a view of the endless stars?
I woke up abruptly, jolted back to reality. It was Sunday morning. I was late for church, but I decided to go anyway. I hadn’t been for weeks, choosing to spend the day making bread or soaking up sunshine instead, but for some reason I wanted to be there.
I slunk in late and noticed a change from our Sunday usual. Red banners hung from the ceiling. Everything glowed with the colors of flames. A feast day? Wasn’t Easter over? Stupidly I looked down at my program.
Pentecost. I’d had no idea.
Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit first rushed through the Apostles of Jesus, busted them out of the confines of their tiny hick lives, made them start speaking foreign languages they’d never uttered before.
Pentecost, when the dreamers became the dream, but some people scoffed and called them drunkards.
Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit consumed the people like wildfire.
Lesson learned that day: even for timid little me, erstwhile worshiper of my own safety, the last kind of person to play with fire, there is room for the Spirit. Even if only in my dreams so far. God is tempting me to experience more of the divine nature, and I am the moth to the proverbial flame.