The Dream Part 5: Lost Friend and Grief No More

So they say God works in mysterious ways.  In the case of my dream, he can be exceptionally direct at times.  A dear friend needed a helping hand.  This friend did not ask for special favors.   I just saw their obstacles and decided to offer my help.  I felt God brought her into my life to teach me something that I needed to learn.  I don’t have many friends and the few I have are very special to me.  I had prayed and meditated on my actions and felt helping was the right thing to do.  I did not want nor expect to ever be paid back.  I just felt that God wanted me to help and I cared about this person.

Needless to say, our friendship had a bad day.  I have had disagreements with friends before, even arguments and fights.  But true friends don’t quit.  They fight for each other and for their friendship.  In a single night my friend cut me off completely.  I prayed and sought solace but nothing helped.  For almost a month I put myself through Hell as I second guessed every decision and every conversation I had with this friend.  I despaired, blamed myself, blamed my friend, and asked God why he would bring me into someone’s life to help them only to be abandoned abruptly.

A week before the dream I recognized the Hell I had created for myself.  I imagined Satan gleefully toying with my emotional state like a puppet on his strings and asked for God’s help to banish him from my heart and send him back to the Abyss.  I incorporated that plea into my daily prayers.  Never once did I stop praying for my friend.  I will pray for my friend until the stars burn out, asking for God to watch over and heal her.

Then I had my opportunity to talk to the big guy one on one.  It is weird the questions you choose to ask in this situation.  I felt like I asked a hundred but each question went down a different rabbit hole.  Finally, I asked what I did wrong to my friend?  Was there anything I could do to fix this situation or would trying to fix it just make it worse?  His answer: “She is on her own journey”.  That’s it.  Simple.  Sweet.  Direct.  It took away all my grief, doubt, and despair in one fell swoop.

The resounding messages from my first book were two fold.  First, Imagination and Will can change the world.  Second, you cannot save another person.  You can help others.  You can bend over backwards, swim across a river of lava, and move heaven and earth for them.  However, in the end, it is their decision and their life.  You cannot take that responsibility away from them.  They have free will and they are the sum of their parts.  Give what you can, be there for them with sound counsel and as a shoulder to give them support when they are down.  Understand that their journey is their own.  Love them regardless of their mistakes and keep them in your heart and in your prayers.  Even though my friend left me, I would not trade the wonderful time and effort I spent helping her for anything.  Likewise, she shared a part of herself with me, taught me how to fish, and showed me incredible generosity and confidence of spirit.  Helping her was its own reward.  That’s what friends are for.

 

The Dream Part 4: Meditation and Prayer

An interesting outcome of my dream was the inspiration to return to the Jesus Prayer as a personal mantra and meditation.  I had been in my new job for a couple weeks and my monkey mind had gotten worse.  Although I focused on deep breathing exercises during my commute and at stressful times, it did not help quiet my mind.

After the dream, I decided to give the Jesus Prayer another chance.  Just a simple meditation over and over again to blank my mind of earthly concerns.  Although the first day was a little awkward, by the third day I was in a Zen state of calm.  I discovered that the prayer cleared my mind in ways I did not expect.  Some days I still enjoy listening to the radio in my car but most days I turn off the radio, focus on the prayer, and just appreciate the moment.  I have seen more beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the last month than in the previous year.

The Dream Part 3: The River of the Holy Spirit

The most memorable part of my dream was finally seeing and understanding the Holy Spirit.  Previously, the mystery of the Holy Spirit confounded me.  I always began and ended prayers to the Trinity, but would often catch myself wondering about the entity we call the Holy Spirit within the Triune God.

My first dream in March 2011 showed me the mechanics of the mind and soul across infinite universes.  While a complete understanding was almost beyond my mind, I saw the mechanics in action.  I learned to appreciate how powerful our imagination is and how our individual actions affect our surroundings.

Since then, I had many epiphanies and dreams, both awake and asleep.  Each one of them was important.  However, this dream answered one of my greatest questions.  I have never fully comprehended the mechanics of the Holy Spirit and this had bothered me.  I mean REALLY bothered me as both an engineer and as a Christian.

If I were to verbally paint a picture, imagine lying propped up on your bed with your back against several pillows.  Your knees are bent.  Now we are taking a trip to the Theater of Perception.  Remove the room and the bed and the hotel.  Remove the earth and the stars.  Now in this place your physical body is gone and instead you can see the energy moving throughout your body.  It is life.  It flows non-stop from your toes and fingertips to your head and heart.  It reminded me of those drawings in medical books of the human circulatory system but with energy instead of blood.  The energy was orange and blue.

Suspended above me was a horizontal waterfall, bright and white, stretching out as far as I could see.  It flowed with a tremendous rush and thunderous noise.  I was told this was the Holy Spirit.  I saw it penetrate everything in our world.  It was beyond our normal perception but was ever present.  I saw that the energy in my body and that of the Holy Spirit were one in the same but it was the Source.  I was told to dip my toes in the River of the Holy Spirit.  I willed my leg to raise.  Although my physical leg was gone and replaced with a network of pulsing energy, I understood this was still my leg.  As my toes were immersed into the Holy Spirit I started to cry as I felt the most extreme rapture and ecstasy beyond anything I could imagine.  I felt I was one with God in that moment.  I was with the Source and it was flowing through me.

It was so intense it could almost be mistaken for physical pain or a shock.  I immediately thought of the most severe pins and needles I could imagine from a limb that falls asleep.  As it spread throughout my body, it felt like electricity.  I wanted to immerse my entire being in it but was held back.  I would do anything to feel it again.  When I read about the ecstasy and yearning described by saints, I could not relate to that feeling.  In that moment, everything changed.  The pure love and exquisite energy in that moment could never be compared to an earthly event.

I finally understood that the Holy Spirit makes everything possible.  It is the fabric of the Divine.  It is the river that gives life.  It is God and the integration medium for all Creation.  An Entity unto itself, it holds together and nourishes His Creation.

 

The Dream Part 2: Do Not Fear. Anything.

I felt this part of my dream was a little dramatic and, until I reflected on it, unnecessary at that moment.  When I first heard “Do Not Fear. Anything”, my immediate reaction was “I am not afraid.  You showed me what comes next.  I welcome coming home when you call me”.  Immediately all the moments of anxiety and second-guessing came flooding back into my memory from the last month.  God showed me my fear.  When I started to the process of following the Divine Pattern and abandoning my ego last year I lost much of my fear as I let go of my earthly attachments.  Focusing on leading a pious life had greatly simplified my existence and brought a degree of peace to my soul.

This message was very direct and to the point.  I was very comfortable in my understanding that my life on earth is an interim stage.  The continuing efforts to annihilate my ego had further reduced or eliminated fear of loss or attachment.  However, fear still haunted my heart.  This fear represented second-guessing recent events in my life around the loss of a good friend.  I understood at that moment that those regrets, second-guessing, and worrying was the work of my ego still trying to protect itself.  I will discuss the specific instance in a future post.  However, In this very direct manner, I was told to stop fearing.  Anything.  Moving forward, whenever I found myself encountering regrets or second guessing events I would remember those words:  “Do not fear.  Anything”.

 

The Dream Part 1: See and Do

Well, I’ve had some time to digest the dream I had on the Feast of Saint Matthew.  Even during the dream I remember asking God how I would remember everything.  Historically, if I don’t capture a dream quickly after waking up, I find it more difficult to remember as time passes.  In this case, there was so much information being passed and so many questions being answered I was anxious that I would forget something important.  I was overwhelmed by the experience.  I was told I would remember when I needed to remember and that I would know when I needed to know.

The biggest direction I received was also the simplest.  It wasn’t directed at me alone, rather it was a message for everyone.  See and Do.  Do and See.  See God’s Hand in my life and see where I can help others.  Then Do something, even if it is something small and minor.  Then See the results and follow-up as needed with further action.  See and Do.  Do and See.

 

The Second Dream

After midnight early this morning I had my second incredible dream.  I am trying to capture as much of the dream as possible in another document.  It was a five hour conversation with God.  Again, I was in a semi/super-conscious state.  It was like a fire hose of images and information.  Way too much to capture in a simple blog post.  I will have to break it up and spend some time meditating on the messages.

Unhappiness Signifies a Spiritual Hole

Talking with a new friend yesterday, we discussed the interesting methods of how God came into our lives and our observations on others.  I mentioned that I did not feel I came to God.  Rather, God found me.  I hadn’t been looking for God but, in retrospect, I was lost and desperate.  My unhappiness was based in many areas.  An inability to forgive myself, a feeling that I was on the wrong path, and that the further I went down the path, the farther I was getting from my own salvation.  I was living the way our society judges success: money, toys, promotions, etc.  I had tried to escape my own responsibility for my salvation through alcohol and later food.  However, when I finally came to the realization that spiritually I was missing something important, everything changed for me.  Not overnight, perhaps, but in so many critical ways.

My friend, to the contrary, simply realized that his life was good.  Like me, he was born and raised Christian and had drifted into a more agnostic perspective.  My friend reflected on his good fortune and felt he needed to express his thanks.  A big Steven Covey fan, he had dedicated time each week to developing his mind, maintaining his body, and cultivating relationships of the heart.  However, he was missing a contribution to his spiritual well being and this led him back to the church.  Although born and raised Protestant, he found the relative anonymity of the Catholic church refreshing.  He wanted to go to church to develop his relationship with God and did not want the experience of intense neighborly fellowship that smaller churches represent.  After two years, he discovered he enjoyed it and decided to officially join the Catholic Church.

While my connection was with St. Maximus the Confessor, my friend found St. Augustine called to his heart.  We reflected that regardless of your religion, there are so many wonderful and life changing observations by the saints that everyone of every faith could appreciate.  It is unfortunate that because they have the title “Saint” and are therefore associated with the Catholic Church, people avoid them on general principle.

Reading: Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross

If you haven’t read Dark Night of the Soul, it is a hauntingly beautiful work.  As I read it, I developed a new appreciation for my own experiences.  Growing up and throughout college I had occasional night terrors.  As I came to the final chapters of the book, I had three more after escaping them for over a decade.  Coincidentally, the chapters of the book were well-timed for my experiences.

As a child and as a young adult (through college), I would dread the semi-conscious state of paralysis that would occur.  Trapped, unable to breath or move I was visited by terrifying entities.  I specifically remember one in college where a black cloud with red eyes appeared in the room and slowly covered me as I struggled.  Without warning it lunged over my prone body suffocating me under its presence.  When I asked my brother whether he ever experienced them, he said that he did not remember night terrors but he did remember the red eyes in the bedroom we shared growing up.

As I finished God Doesn’t Whisper, I had three in the space of two weeks.  The first was a strange dream that felt like a night terror where I was being dragged powerlessly by an entity through a cavern-like hallway.  I saw my brother sitting next to the wall and that drove me to call him with the question.  At a point, I stopped being terrified and willed my body to stand up.  If you thought I was surprised by demonstrating this ability to control myself, you should have seen the face of the entity.  It turned around and, although emotionally featureless, expressed concern that I read as “You should not be able to do that”.  Then the dream ended.

The next night terror was inside my home as a malevolent spirit in this dream state was turning on and off lights, setting a fire in the fire place, and tormenting me.  I ran through the house in this dream state willing my body to move and took a page from the movie the Exorcist yelling over and over “The Power of Christ Compels You to Leave!”.  I was so vocal, I actually woke my wife and she woke me up.

The third one occurred the day before publishing.  However, this one was different than ever before.  Strangely, this one left me a souvenir.  I awoke with the terrified paralysis and saw a white shimmering figure next to the bed.  Again, I could not breathe but I did not feel threatened.  It took all my will to raise up and will my arm to reach out and touch this being.  My hand felt chilled as I swiped at the shimmer.  I awoke immediately and felt something underneath me.  It was my wife’s boarding pass for our trip to Minneapolis when I had the huge revelation that we are each responsible for our own salvation.  That confession and forgiveness are key components of our lives today, not waiting for judgment day.  How it appeared underneath me after being missing/thrown away six months ago cannot be explained.  I asked my wife and she could not remember the last time she had seen it.

After these three events, I finishing reading the final chapters of Dark Night of the Soul.  Many of the parallels and examples St John of the Cross speaks about reflect my experiences of Night Terrors.  The soul, weighed down by sin and unworthiness, trembles paralyzed by the Divine presence.  He also described the beings as dark shapes with Divine intentions.  It reminded me of a quote from the movie Jacob’s Ladder when Danny Aiello’s character is talking to Tim Robbins.  Per the entry in Wikipedia, he cites the 14th-century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart: “Eckhart saw Hell too.  He said, ‘The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, your attachments.  They burn them all away.  But they’re not punishing you’, he said.  ‘They’re freeing your soul.  So, if you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away.  But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels freeing you from the earth.'”

Perhaps the semi-conscious state is actually a super-conscious state.  Perhaps the terrors and entities are there to help somehow.  The next time, I promise myself, I will say a quick prayer and let go of my fear and attachments in these moments.  The alternative is that this life is a delicate simulation to help me overcome the spiritual obstacles I have on my own path to salvation.

Background

In March 2011, as I awaited a tsunami in Hawaii, my midlife crisis was answered by an incredible dream.  I was shown the mechanics of something wonderful.   The message was simple: all I needed was imagination and will to create change in the world.  I had been unhappy for a decade, feeling I was a victim of soul-crushing societal programming and parental pressures to climb the corporate ladder and found that happiness was promised just over the next hill time and time again.  I felt like the cranky old man who tells stories of how he had to walk uphill to school in the snow both ways as a child.

After the dream, I took charge of my life.  I started writing, lost 100 pounds, and got back into shape.  Over the next two years I wrote in hotel rooms, on dinner napkins, on airplanes, and texted myself ideas as I drove or hiked: whenever inspiration struck.  I incorporated what I saw in that first dream into my own life and into the observations of the world around me.  I captured every epiphany I experienced until I had over 300 pages of notes and anecdotes.

As I edited God, Gravity, and the Change Between the Couch Cushions, I came to a fork in the road.  I felt the journey ahead was my choice.  I could apply what I learned to serve myself or to serve others.  I tried for two years to deny my experience as religious intervention.  You see, I was raised Lutheran.  What my wife likes to call “Catholic-Lite”.  However, I had never felt a connection to God or my church.  I grew more agnostic with each passing year until I actually became anti-organized religion.  I wasn’t an Atheist or anti-God, but I saw the transgressions and failures of organized religion as a fatal flaw in logic and reason.  This was compounded by such news as religious groups attempting to pass laws against critical thinking.  I had my degree in systems engineering and although science and religion did not conflict with each other in my life, when your neighbor builds a fence it makes you wonder why.

My journey of discovery would have been easier to explain as a religious experience but I wasn’t ready to admit that to myself.  The elation I felt and the epiphanies that I saw, even the choice of words I used to describe my new understanding were unlike anything I had written before.  I always loved science fiction and if given the choice, I imagined writing such a book later in life.  Philosophy was not my strong suit.  In college, I earned a ‘C’ in Philosophy.  However, the tone and texture of my writing was now focused on philosophy and ethics.

In late February 2013, everything was rushing to a decisive point.  My visions became more insistent and during a trip to Minnesota to visit family, the dam final broke.  During an incredible night I learned the power of confession and forgiveness and that ultimately, we are each responsible for our own salvation.  I had chosen the path to follow God and the Divine Pattern of God’s Image within myself.  I would endeavor to annihilate my own ego and piously remove myself from earthly attachments.  In the space my ego had occupied within my heart, I would endeavor to fill that emptiness with the Holy Spirit and God’s Grace and to become an instrument of His Will.

In April 2013, two events happened at nearly the same time.  Several numbers kept coming up in my life and one night I ‘Googled’ the number 662 on a lark.  That simple action opened a flood gate of discovery.  One coincidence became two, then four, then sixteen onward and upward at a geometric rate.  As I turned this corner of discovery, I was reunited with an old friend, David.  David was in my unit in Alaska and an old friend from my Support Platoon.  I knew David was Catholic so as we caught up, I described what I experienced and he shared some of his own experiences from Iraq.  Although I attributed my original dream and all the subsequent life changing experiences to God, I was still firmly against organized religion.  However, in a single evening talking with David, even that final bulwark collapsed.

I started to read.  A LOT.  Mainly early Christian Mystics and several Saints that I encountered along the way.   I wasn’t looking for answers.  I was looking for teachers able to craft their experiences and contemplation on the Divine in such a way so that I may discover my own truths within my heart.  I’ll share each of those books and what I learned from them in future blog posts.  It is heartbreaking that so many unhappy people in desperate need of spiritual counsel from all faiths avoid such authors because they associate Saints with the Catholic Church.  I am not Catholic but I assure you that there are no better spokespeople or resources for such diverse and intrinsically valuable contemplation as these legends of spirituality.

Ready, Set, Blog!

Last week my friend Cress suggested incorporating a regular blog to support my goals of telling my story and helping reach out to others.  Although many of these blog posts may be incorporated in various forms to future publications, my goal is to simply capture the daily thoughts, ideas, and observations that occur and reflections on past events in a new light.