Last night I dreamt the following dream. I woke up just before three AM, and wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it.
The dream began in a large, bustling, beautiful church, radiant with soft light and featuring marble flooring, pillars, and walls. I wasn’t in the sanctuary, but in a commons area. It was Holy Saturday and everyone was making preparations for the festivities of the following day. It must have been a version of First Christian Church of Atlanta, for Kris and Rick were the pastors. I told them I had finished all my duties and was going to spend the rest of the day reconnecting with old friends. They wished me well, and with a calmly joyful sense of purpose I left the happy, bustling facility.
Then I traveled. This part of the dream is murky: It seemed as if I were driving to Sewanee, Tennessee, where I lived from 1988 to 1993 — up into the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau; after the driving, then it seemed as if I were in my old bookstore, climbing the stairs to my old office. But all this took place in a twilight world, or perhaps a nocturnal world, dark rather than sunny. Climbing the stairs and walking along the balcony (as if to my old office) was, in the dream, leading not to that office but to the home of my old friends Bob (who passed away last year) and Diane. In the midst of this dark world, as I walked along the balcony, I came across musicians rehearsing, and felt bad for I hadn’t been keeping up with my bass lessons and so couldn’t join in. Sitting in a rocking chair, near where the musicians were practicing, sat a bitter old man — a Veteran — wearing an eyepatch. This Joycean Cyclops figure assailed me, and asked me, venomously, if I didn’t want to participate in the “Just Faith” course that was now being offered throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta. “I do,” I replied, trying to sound noncommittal, “just to see what the fuss is about.” “You’ll hate it,” assured the one-eyed veteran, “it’s terrible.” “I imagine you must hate it,” I allowed. “Not as much as some people,” he muttered earnestly. “Father Tim is particularly incensed.” “Are you taking the classes at Father Tim’s church, then?” I asked. He nodded. Leaving him rocking and muttering to himself, I walked past the musicians and to the doorway of Bob and Diane’s house — not as I remember it from the early 1990s, or even as I imagine Diane’s house must be now, but rather a dark corridor leading to a dark house church chapel. The Easter Vigil was just beginning, and I slipped in and sat down quietly among the 30 or 40 people crammed into the small chapel.
It was the beginning of a glorious Anglo-Catholic mass, replete with altar bells and incense. While the church itself was dark, the sanctuary and altar were bathed in light. The congregation was singing “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones” in a lovely, melodic plainchant style, accompanied by handbells. Sr. Lucy, an Anglican nun/priest of the Community of Saint Mary was the celebrant, and she, arrayed in cope and chasuble, stood before the altar, with her deacon and subdeacon. I noticed a few familiar persons in the congregation, especially Ariel, Bob’s and Diane’s daughter, now fully grown (she’s Rhiannon’s age, meaning that, aside from a brief conversation at Bob’s funeral, the last time I saw her she was 7 years old). I sat down in a pew and joined in the singing. As the hymn ended, two people from St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta — Rob and Kate — returned to their seats from where they had been standing up front (I’m not sure why they were up front). Rob recognized me, sitting there in the darkness, and leaned down to give me a hug.
At that point, a spotlight was trained to a low stage on the left-hand side of the room, and several people got up to go stand in the light. The first person I recognized was Amy, who had married my old college buddy Mark. With here were several children, whom I assumed were her kids. I realized that Mark was with her, and Wes and Jeanmarie too — my dearest friends, all, from college. They gathered together and stood in the light, on the stage and on the steps leading up to the stage, and I must have been smiling broadly, and even in the dark, Mark recognized me. I waved and pointed to myself and nodded my head. Mark immediately spoke loud enough for all to hear, and asked Wes and Jeanmarie if they recognized anyone in the congregation. I just sat there. And then, with a shout, they all called out my name. Suddenly “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones” filled the air again, only this time as music, not chant, and I rose to go join my friends in the light.
And that’s when I woke up.