I woke up in the middle of the night from a vivid dream that stuck with me more throughout the day than the dream I was having when I woke this morning. And this dream had a strong resonance with Father’s homily this morning at Mass. So I thought it was worth recording so that I could ponder it a bit more.
In the dream I was visiting an old friend who I haven’t seen in a while. In this dream she was living in a house that was hers or her boyfriend’s. It was a huge place, palatial almost; but very stark and minimalist in its furnishings. It felt empty and unlived in. Not at all a cozy place to be. The bedroom was all made of a cold, dark stone or tile. Maybe a polished granite or a sort of mosaic of highly polished stone? The walls, the floor, everything. And the linens on the bed shifted a couple of times, finally they matched the walls, taking on a look of shiny and cold stone.
There were people there somewhere, in another room. Maybe it was a party? I could hear them but not see them.
Anyway, the place itself felt cold and unfriendly. I think I wanted to leave and go back home. Go somewhere warmer and more inviting. And my friend said something about this being her home now. Was she refusing to come with me? Or just establishing that like me she had a place to call home? Or trying to convince me to stay? Or trying very hard to make a go of it where she was? I don’t know what I meant or what she meant. And those words didn’t seem as important when I first woke and thought back over the dream as they did later on. What struck me most was the cold formality of the place and especially the shiny stone-like linens.
The dream I had later, which I remember much less vividly, was something about being at a party and trying to find something to eat; but somehow everything kept going wrong and I either was never quite able to find the specific food I was looking for or I wasn’t able to sit down and eat it.
So I got up and the morning was the usual Sunday morning scramble. I thought again about my dream during Mass, thinking I should take it as a prompting to pray for my friend. Then I really thought about it during Father’s homily. He was talking about the archdiocese’s new initiative (which Dom’s group has been working on for a while now) Catholics Come Home. Father told us about the time in his life when he’d stopped praying and drifted away from practicing his faith. He recounted how it was when he finally went back to confession. How hard it was and how wonderful it was too.
The story really resonated with me. First, as I had a gap of perhaps twenty years in my life when I didn’t go to confession at all (though I almost always went to Mass). Also, because despite last year’s New Year’s resolution to go to confession once a month I found I hadn’t been in 8 months. I was really good in January through April. Then after I found out I was pregnant things got…complicated. I was tired and wanted an afternoon nap on Saturday afternoons rather than going to confession or Ben had just woke up from his nap and was cranky and I didn’t feel it was fair to leave him with Dom when all he really wanted was me. It was always easy to say: “I’ll go next week. Things will be better then.”
So I went last Saturday for the first time in eight months and it felt amazingly good afterward. The whole week I felt like I was walking on a little cushion of grace. Prayer felt easier. I was getting up before the kids to pray every day. I was squeezing in more prayer during nap time. Keeping my temper was easier. Things just seemed to be flowing more smoothly.
But anyway, back to Father’s homily. He started talking about the new initiative (which began in Phoenix but has been launched in several dioceses across the country) to invite Catholics who have drifted away from the Church to come back. I loved the videos that were posted on You Tube. (They ran as television advertisements in Phoenix.) He talked about ways which we can reach out to friends and family to invite them to come home.
And then I recalled my dream and my friend protesting that she was home. This particular friend happens to be a lapsed Catholic. She was baptized and raised Catholic but as an adult hasn’t really practiced her faith. (I have quite a few friends who fit into that category, come to think of it.) Anyway, as Father spoke, I thought of how in my dream she was insisting that this house which seemed to me so cold and inhospitable was her home now. But it didn’t feel at all home-like to me.
I suppose that’s how I feel when with my non-Catholic friends. I care for them and wish they were able to live in the same kind of place I do, a place I experience as home. Warm, welcoming, comfortable, well-furnished, safe. To me the Church is home. And it feels to me like they are missing out.
And yet. I write fairly easily about my faith here in this space. I’m not so good at talking about it. Especially when I know it’s not a common ground with the person I’m talking to. Then, I’m much more likely to stick to “safe” topics. If I talk too much about faith, I feel like I’m being pushy. And I hate feeling pressured myself and I hate the idea of seeming like I’m pressuring someone.
So most of the time I say nothing. But I do wish all my friends who are drifting through life without a clear sense of meaning or purpose could have the splendor and beauty of the faith that I have. To me it is the most precious gift I’ve been given. Without my faith I can’t imagine having my marriage, my family, my children, all the things that are so precious to me. Certainly I might be married with children; but it would be a lesser sort of thing because I wouldn’t know to thank God for it. I wouldn’t realize what a beautiful gift it is. And without that gratitude, I think I’d take my life for granted.
Anyway, I’m not really sure this rambling is going anywhere. I feel like I should be better at spreading this wonderful news to those I love; but I’m not. Perhaps the real answer is I should pray about it. Because in writing about it, I don’t feel I’ve come any closer to unraveling the knot my tongue gets into. I’m not sure I’ve gotten to the heart of my dream or the mystery I felt when I heard the dream’s words echoed during Mass. The urgency I felt to pray for my friend. The longing I had to do more than pray and the uncertainty of not knowing what else I could possibly do or say that could make a difference. But it’s late now and I need to go to bed and I don’t want to worry at this piece of writing any more. Time to publish and go to sleep.