a friend’s dream about me & my response

Here’s my friend’s dream. He is a pastor. I just received this email today. It is used with his permission. (I think this is my longest post ever!)

Hi David,

I had a dream the other night about you a couple weeks ago and thought you might find it interesting.

Here it is.

You and I were out for a walk late one night, I think it was in St. John, though not sure. The street was urban, the street was dark and I recall telling you about my reflections about your cartoons. I was sharing with you how your cartoons were helping me understand those who have left the church and also been hurt. I was also sharing with you the virtue I still saw in the church and that so many different expressions of the church had… so much to offer. There was nothing adversarial about the dialogue, good friends sharing idea’s and spurring one another on. I remember enjoying the chat and the laughter we shared. It was good getting caught up on our friendship.

It was then I turned to you and asked you point blank, ‘David, I don’t get it, you have so much to contribute and I know you are doing that through your cartoon’s and your writings…but I still see a reluctant shepherd in you who want’s to try this again….leadership. I keep wondering if your reluctance to lead a flock of sheep is because of the very things you address right now in your cartoons and writings would that be too much for you to face?’

It was then you took a long telescope out from your back pocket. It was like a tool you carried with you wherever you went.You began to search the night sky like Vincent Van Gough searching the sky’s for new galaxies.

That was it. Dream over.

I’d love to connect again and share more about your journey…and mine. I love your drawings and stories about Sophia. Stunning stuff. I find your cartoons and writings very provocative as well. They make me smile, chuckle, sit back in my chair, ponder, get angry, think, re-think, defend, wonder why I’m defending, get perplexed, get confused, get more clarity, get more obscurity, saying YES out loud, saying NO out loud, most of all looking forward to my inbox that says ‘Naked Pastor’ everyday, and opening it like a sneek peek at my Christmas stocking before mom and dad get up Christmas morning. Thanks for being you.

Here’s my response:

Hi Friend:

Wow. Quite a dream. Thanks for sharing it with me…

Dreams, as we know, say more about the dreamer than the dreamt. But I would like to address what concerns your dream reveals.

  1. I have left the ministry. That’s true. I know some feel I’ve excluded and disqualified myself. But I am still in the game. I feel so anyway. My “ministry” has taken on a whole new appearance. I don’t serve a local congregation. Although I do meet with many people on a daily basis both locally and online. Including my ESL students. I truly sense I am providing guidance and comfort and hopefully wisdom to many more people. And they are people who want it and are thankful for it.
  2. I was hurt so many times by the church. Not just incidentally but systemically. It wasn’t just occasions. It was my condition within it. But that was my story for so many years before I left. And it is true on that the evening I decided to leave I had a painful meeting with people of the church I thought were my strongest supporters. It was the last piece of a 1,000 piece puzzle that finally made the picture clear that I and this local congregation were no longer compatible. I realized that my frustration with the local church was a clear sign that I was no longer to confine my ministry to within its walls. If I wanted to proceed with my call, I was to leave that position as a clergyman.
  3. I love the church now more than ever. I believe in it. I strongly believe people have the right to get together for religious and spiritual reasons, and that it must be in a healthy manner that is beneficial to all.
  4. I have never been happier. I wake up happy to be alive and excited to face my day and serve my fellow human beings with joy. My heart is full of love and Presence and I see a huge horizon filled with possibilities for people and for the church and for spirituality. I believe we are all one and all my efforts are concentrated on setting people free to manifest that reality with me. Daily I am confronted with hostility towards my call. But I press on now with hope in spite of it… a hope that was constantly quenched within the walls of the church.

Sometimes I’m asked if I will ever pastor a local congregation again. Soon after leaving I gave an emphatic NO! However, wisdom has always taught me, eventually, to keep an open mind. So I no longer say NO! But the conditions would have to be totally different. Of course.

That being said, I am doing some “nakedpubs”. They are dynamic small groups, occasional, non-committal, and effective. I am also considering doing these in livingrooms and other venues. I think it is important for people to get together and explore together without fear of repercussions, and I like to provide that.

I would love to get together and rekindle our relationship. I could talk far more openly in person.

Your friend,

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  • Yours was a beautiful response. I would’ve been…I guess offended that someone, a friend, would question my decision about how to answer my calling, but your message was considered and thoughtful and will probably open the door for more discussion and introspection. Cool.

  • thanks felicia!

  • Perhaps the writer needs to take a good look at his own ministry….dreams are always about us. Perhaps he sees himself reflected in your writings and struggles…I wish him well on his journey.
    BTW, I love the new Sophia…she’s free at last!

  • Rhonda Sayers

    I can truly say you have provided guidance, comfort and wisdom to me and I am so thankful for your pastoral care on my journey.
    I have been out of the institutional church for 2 years…and until I connected with you…I felt like a naked orphan.

  • ah thanks rhonda!

  • LouiseM

    The telescope give me chills. It reminds me of the story of the Apollo 15 astronauts standing on the surface of the moon and dropping a feather and a hammer to demonstrate Galileo’s theory of objects in gravity fields in vacuums. Their conclusion, delivered from the surface of the moon: “Galileo was right”.

    How odd is it that the words of affirmation denied him by the church, would be spoken by men standing on the surface of the same moon Galileo observed through his telescope when he studied the night skies? The same moon he viewed through the windows of the house where he’d been placed under arrest by the church for pleading guilty to heresy. What he saw then and what was to come were miles and years apart.

    In September 1632, Galileo was summoned to Rome, where he arrived in January 1633. First the inquisitors tried to get Galileo to admit that he had earlier been officially banned from teaching Copernicus’ theory as true, but Galileo produced Bellarmine’s letter to contradict this. By then, both Bellarmine (1621) and Cesi (1630) were dead, and Galileo had few powerful patrons left to defend him. A plea bargain to plead guilty to a lesser charge was scuppered, however, when Urban VIII decided in June that Galileo should be imprisoned for life. Galileo was then interrogated under threat of torture, and made to abjure the ‘vehement suspicion of heresy’. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Galileo spent the rest of his life at his home at Arcetri, under house arrest with the archbishop of Siena. Pleas for pardons or for medical treatment were refused.

    In a beyond imagination turn of events three hundred years after his death, truth was spoken for the world to hear; Galileo was right.

  • “I believe we are all one
    and all my efforts are
    concentrated on
    setting people
    free to manifest
    that reality with me.

    Daily I am confronted
    with hostility towards
    my call.

    But I press on now with
    hope in spite of it… a
    hope that was constantly
    quenched within the walls
    of the church.

    Reminds me of Moses leading the children of Israel (“god wrestlers) out of Egypt “darkness”) and into the wild (“wilderness”) with nothing but momentary manna, pillars of fire, columns of smoke to guide them unknowingly. And finally: the Promised Land: filled with giants, and the retreat back into the wilderness for what?
    40 years–until enough confidence was gained to take on the bad guys and inherit the earth, so so speak. A noble calling. And “the violent bear it away.”

  • Mar

    My favorite line was “I realized that my frustration with the local church was a clear sign that I was no longer to confine my ministry to within its walls.” wow. epiphany.

  • Beth

    Hi David, when I first started into my studies to become a minister, I told a professor that I just wanted to get through the “formal” education part so that I could DO ministry. The professor looked me in the eyes and said “You can minister anywhere God places you!” From that moment on I’ve viewed ministry differently – it isn’t just something to be done within the walls of a church…in fact it’s not suppose to be…Jesus’ command was to GO and make disciples of all nations…not STAY and make disciples. Not sure when things got changed. You are a minister of God regardless of whether it’s in an ESL class or a pub or somewhere else. Keep serving God!
    If you and Lisa are ever to PEI look us up!

  • James

    Dear Nakedpastor;
    I am a former Christian Gnostic Pastor. Have you ever thought about joining our Christian community?