Sunday, September 14, 2008

Conversations with God and The Value of Friendship

Genuine friends must be cherished and not forsaken (Prov. 27:10).

A few nights ago, I had a dream--not a weird, wild or crazy dream that is so typical of me, but a simple dream. In my dream, I was being reunited with an old friend. He was my closest friend until my husband came along, and though I rarely admit it to myself, let alone admit it out loud, I miss him terribly. I haven't seen him in over eight years, and that by itself (I think) should mean that I shouldn't feel so sad when I think about him, but that's not quite the case. We met in college, shared some of the same friends, were involved in some of the same activities. We met completely by accident through a mutual friend...and realized that we were so different and so similar at the same time, that it was likely we'd end up buddies or end up throttling each other. We went the buddy route. It was a unique friendship, one that most people didn't understand, one I'm not always sure I understand.

In this dream, I was walking through a valley of sorts, surrounded by rolling green hills, trying to determine if the hour upon me was sunrise or sunset. The sun was bold on the horizon, fiery, streaking colors across the sky as a gentle wind lifted my hair from my neck. I didn't feel afraid or lost. I was walking with purpose, seeking something or someone, my heart fluttering with anticipation. I picked up my pace, hurrying along, when I rounded a curve...and I saw him. He was sitting on a wrought iron park bench next that was perched on the banks of a lagoon.

He didn't turn and look at me, but I know that he knew I was there. My heart was racing, blood thundering in my ears. How long had I waited for this moment? To see him face to face and reconnect? There was nothing, nothing, romantic about my feelings for him, but I couldn't deny that I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him for all I was worth, to say all that I needed to say. To put aside my stupid pride, humble myself and ask his forgiveness.

I sat down next him, on the opposite side of the bench, not touching, not speaking at first. Neither of us knew what to say, but just like always, he was the braver one, the kinder one, the one willing to do the harder thing, and he broke the silence.

"It's been a long time. I'm glad you finally found me."

I felt my throat clog and I swallowed hard, fighting not to be overwhelmed by tears. I didn't know how to respond to him, so I just started talking, filling him in on what the last eight years were like for me...during all of this, my conscious mind knew that I was dreaming and I felt a frantic sense of urgency, like I needed to talk as fast as I could because I knew our time was limited...because I knew that even though I'd found him, it would be a very long time before I saw him face to face again.

As my body fought to wake up and start the day, my mind gently shushed it, continuing to drift in the hazy place where my dream was unfolding.

He spoke to me as we sat on that park bench, though I don't remember even a single word of what he said. His voice was neutral and low, the way it always was, the same inflection and tone that I remember so well. I leaned in closer to better hear what he was saying and inhaled the scent that was uniquely him, noticing a few strands of silver peeking through his dark hair. I looked into his eyes, as dark and mysterious as my own, and was flooded with regret for letting go of this friendship, for not honoring him the way a true friend should be honored.

He reached out and squeezed my hand and another flood of memories came back to me...like how I remember he was the first man I ever associated with who held a door open for me...who I could spend time with in silence, just working together but separately...who held his hand out for me when I was on crutches after knee surgery and struggling to manage my backpack over the icy, snowy terrain on the way to class...who laughed even when my jokes weren't funny...who picked a random cherry blossom out of my hair when we were in Washington, D.C. on a scholarly trip with a group of students and professors...who always seemed so genuinely interested in my thoughts and ideas...who engaged in spirited debates with me about religion, politics and history...who clung to my hand for support at his father's funeral...who told me that he knew I would go far in life, as long as I was true to myself and recognized that just getting by and surviving would never be enough for me.

I remember that he was nicer to me than I ever was to myself. I remember that he saw potential I didn't even know I had. I remember that he believed in me long before I ever saw myself as a person worth believing in.

I felt my body rushing toward wakefulness and I mentally struggled to cling to the moment. He got up and started walking away from me, but I called out to him, trying in those last desperate moments to explain the external forces that drove a wedge in between us...why I let that wedge come in between us. I tried to make him understand why I made the decisions I did...how once everything was set into motion, I felt helpless to stop our friendship's barreling race to the finish line, to avoid the disastrous collision course I put us on.

In my dream, he paused and looked back at me, listening intently. The sun reflected off his glasses as a small smile curved the corners of his mouth and he slowly shook his head back and forth. "It's all okay, you know. It's in the past. You've punished yourself far more than I ever could have. Just be okay and know that you'll see me again sometime."

I woke up then, shaking and sweating, my nose running and tears leaking from the corners of my closed eyes. The dream was so vivid, so real to me, and yet it was something borne of my own imagination. I couldn't help but think about it the rest of the day. It had stirred up feelings I had stuffed so deep inside of me, that I had actually fooled myself into believing they were gone.

I got through the day, though it was a struggle not think about the dream and wonder what triggered it, wonder what it meant, wonder why it was nagging at me. My first thought, of course, is that there's some unfinished business. I did a terrible thing in walking away from our friendship with no explanation...no explanation that he knew of, anyway. But as I thought about it more, I wonder if it was more symbolic. I struggle with my beliefs and my faith. I try hard to be a good Christian and a good Catholic, but of course I fail sometimes. Lately, in moments of frustration, I've been looking for God, wondering where He is...before I remind myself that if I'm looking for God, He's not the one who's lost. I think about what was said in my dream...It's been a long time. I'm glad you finally found me...It's in the past...You've punished yourself far more than I ever could have...

I think there's a deeper message, something that goes beyond the surface of simple words. And maybe, just maybe, the message came to me in this form because it would make me pay attention and make me think long and hard about it.

And believe me, I'm thinking long and hard about it.

4 comments:

CRUSTYBEEF said...

interesting because that's exactly what I was thinking--that you had a conversation with God in your dream---it says that it can appear as any form! and based on your emotions, I think that you experienced one of the many forms of faith through his power and love.

very very powerful!!

jAMiE said...

what an amazingly touching dream...i've been having lots of meaningful dreams lately...i hope all the thinking long and hard that you're doing will help you sort it out.

mamatutwo said...

don't you love a dream like that? a dream that comforts you like that? dreams that i struggle with to find the meaning with and am all the while left with a taste-able sense of peace....those calm me like no earthly thing....

i have no doubt that you are a good catholic and a good christian...we all go through our struggles to stay close to Him. That takes nothing away from you as a good catholic christian...

Charlene said...

Maybe the dream was your connection with God...or your serching for a more connection with God..maybe