The Professor

The dream:

I had been putting off taking a college math course until the last semester before graduation. I was terrified I would fail it — too scared to even go to class once it started. I worked out of a workbook by myself instead. When I came to a part that was too difficult for me to understand on my own, I decided I would go to class. The math problem that I was stuck on was like one I had never seen before. It was a comparison of equations of logical beliefs. When I got to class, I found the professor to be unbelievably kind. He provided all of the supplies that the students needed to learn — highlighters, etc. He and I instantly developed a wonderful rapport. He was very funny, and we told jokes back and forth. I fell completely in love with him. He needed a worker to help him in his office, and I gladly volunteered, not caring how much it might pay, if it paid at all. I decided to drop all of my other classes, because this was the only one I had any interest in.

The professor and I had a great time in our friendship. He was awaiting for his bride-to-be to arrive, but in the meantime, he was having a blast. We went on a boat. We encountered huge waves that scared some people, but I had a great time. The big waves would come and pitch the boat forward. I would look at the waves, and there were these crabs with HUGE smiles on their faces just surfing the waves, having a grand old time.

When I woke up, I still felt so in love with this new best friend that I had found. It was one of those dreams you’d like to go back to again and again. I have never felt so in-sync with someone else in my life. It was beautiful.

Marathon

Last night, I dreamed I was running a marathon. I was going completely against the grain. The race started in the late morning, but I had been running since the early morning alone or with one other person. The runners were supposed to go on one direction, but I was running in the opposite direction. At times, I joyfully hopped along on one foot. Eventually, I took a left turn and joined up with the more conventional runners. Almost immediately, the race became very difficult. It felt as though I was running through sludge and it became hard to breathe. Then I woke up.

No One Knows Anything and We Are All One

sheepOne of the things I like about the book of Job — in fact, the ONLY thing, really — is how God chews out Job’s friends at the end. He tells them that they have no clue how the Creator made the universe, and that their attempts at offering an explanation to Job for his travails was pretty much pathetic.

So in light of this story, it’s strange that so many people are absolutely certain about God and how He works. To some extent, I am one of them, since I am convinced of His love.

Still.

I had a dream the other night that hammered home how much I don’t know.

What happened is that I was protesting the Westboro Baptist folks. Then, God told me that I was exactly the same as they were. It was like I was looking at them, only it was really a mirror and I was seeing myself. The whole idea was that neither I nor the Westboro folks knew much of anything.

The other point that was embedded in this dream was that we are all one. Me and Fred Phelps — ONE.

When we commit violence against another, we are committing it against ourselves. Think about it. How much Fred must have hated himself.

Sometimes, it’s like I approach God as a hobby, hoping to become more proficient in time and learn completely what he is about — much like I might eventually become good enough at knitting to create an intricately cabled sweater. This is just not possible, though. Not knowing God to that extent, and in my case, probably not learning how to knit that well, either.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about some anger I have tucked away toward those people I perceive as blinding others to the Kingdom of Heaven. I’m thinking that God is telling me to drop the anger and just love them instead. Because they are me, and I am them, and God loves all of us.

Down a Strange and Lonely Path

One of the things you won’t be seeing here is much authoritative opinion. My stance on spiritual matters these days is that we don’t know much of anything. The one thing I do know is that love is the grease by which the cogs in our machine operate, knocking off rusty bits that otherwise might clog up the whole works.

One verse of the Bible I have been following is John 14:26. I love the book of John, by the way. It’s a mystical love letter. At any rate, here it is:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Here’s the thing. The Holy Spirit doesn’t always teach you things that other people will agree with. He doesn’t teach things that make you feel safe and secure in your established belief system. He doesn’t teach anything that will make you fit in. At least this has been my experience.

Speaking of fitting in, I’m lonely a lot. I don’t know many people whose hobby it is to endlessly philosophize and try to figure things out. In fact, it often drives my husband crazy, as he wishes I’d keep my feet a little closer to the ground.

Back to the Holy Spirit. I asked God a couple of years ago to show me the truth. I asked and asked and asked. Jesus says that if you seek you will find. So when I started getting answers to my questions — answers that have been unexpected — I had to take them in stride and not reject them because they didn’t fit with my existing belief system.

Things that have been pointed out to me lately include the idea that God has revealed Himself to everyone everywhere through the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, the Torah and many other sources, including Jesus of course! We see through a glass darkly, so the constructs of the stories are not the same, but the root of them is. The message is that we connect ourselves with God through love.

The dreams are another thing. And a couple of weeks ago, I had a vision/hallucination of a techno-scroll with lots of symbols endlessly scrolling by. I don’t know the meaning of all these things, but I’m thinking it is like a puzzle that will eventually be put together. One thing that is certain is that attending my local church is not going to help me very much with all of this. Not to say that being part of a community would not be beneficial — just probably not in this particular manner.

I think it would be easy to say I am simply losing my mind. The thing is, I am perfectly functional and otherwise rational. I hold down a job, cook a mean meatloaf and somehow manage to keep a fairly clean house. Of course, what “losing your mind” means is that you no longer hold the same beliefs as the people around you when it comes to reality. So by East Texas standards, I’m insane, but in Austin or Portland, Oregon, I’d get a clean bill of mental health.

I’ve become fairly comfortable with uncertainty, though. Perhaps that’s the key — not freaking out because my experiences don’t align with a lot of other people’s.

On another note, I feel like I’ve “figured out” schizophrenia, at least a little bit. I was reading about DMT, a natural substance produced by all living things that when released endogenously or deliberately injected, causes not only hallucinations, but hallucinations on the order of people being fully convinced they are not hallucinating, but experiencing another reality entirely.

I was reading accounts of DMT trips, and I was struck by how similar they were — not only to each other, but to experiences my son with the schiz diagnosis has had. For example, it is not uncommon for people to experience living an entire lifetime in an alternate reality while on a 15 minute DMT trip. People see elves, futuristic machines and have conversations with entities who reappear from trip to trip — even those who do not know it is common to experience those things while on DMT.

I started thinking that perhaps people with schizophrenia have more DMT in the brain than most people. I researched this and found out it is indeed the case!

I’m thinking we are all finely tuned by our brain chemicals to experience this particular reality. If our brain chemicals get out of whack via drugs or a state such as schiz, parts of another reality that are on another “frequency” might start breaking through.

Say consensual reality is the frequency of 98.8. When our bodies are functioning normally, ie. we are not on drugs or otherwise seeking to create an “other reality” experience, we are “tuned” to that frequency and experience reality as we know it.

However, if things are out of whack somehow, instead of being tuned to 98.8, we might be tuned to 99.0. In that case, like a car radio that picks up two stations at the same time — creating a mishmash of classic rock and country — things that we pick up from a different frequency (reality) might start breaking through. An insane person who cannot function at all in our society might be tuned to 103.2.

There are different ways to “tune” our bodies to a different reality. Doing hallucinogenic drugs or plant medicines, having a fever, fasting or otherwise putting the body under extreme stress — all of these things can cause another reality to break through. I’ve read that during times of fasting, stress and the physical death of the body, blood levels of DMT rise. Make sense?

These are not “safe” things to believe. Some people will fight tooth and nail to preserve their working definition of reality. I don’t blame them. It can be scary to consider that everything we’ve thought was real may be as flimsy of a construct as a decaying leaf.

And where does God come into all this? Well, He is there all the time. We don’t have to put him into a box. And we should realize, that in the words of a C.S. Lewis, he is not a “safe lion.”

*Disclaimer: I’ve never ever done a hallucinogenic drug.

Back to School

What an interesting month it has been.

I’ve been back at work for three weeks now, after having been contacted by the principal and asked to take my old position once again. After warning her that my life had been anything but stable during the past couple of years due to my son’s hospitalizations, I agreed to go back.

There were two deciding factors. One was that a non-disciplinary alternative school is upstairs from the disciplinary alternative school in which I teach. Sage now attends that school and is finally meeting a few other folks who also march to their own beat. He feels less stressed knowing that I am on campus. The other factor was that they needed me. As a writer, no one needs me. If I don’t write up to par, I can easily be replaced with one of a zillion other writers waiting in the wings for the opportunity. There is NOT a line of people clamoring to teach high school to behaviorally-challenged students, however.

So here I am.

The first week with students was very challenging. The three and a half year break from teaching had dulled my memories of exactly how difficult these students could be. After spending Wednesday being very sick from stress, I went into the classroom on Thursday and immediately — somehow — kicked things back to my old groove. My stress level went down immediately.

Now the biggest obstacle I have is figuring out how to run the household while working full-time once again!

Vision of God or Schizophrenic Hallucination?

rainbow around the throne of God

This will never look the same.

I will never ever forget what my younger son told me when he was twelve. He said that he had visited heaven and had a talk with God. God had even given him a tour.

He went into a lot of detail. He described how God’s face cannot be seen because it is such bright white light. He said he saw Jesus, and that there were marks on his wrists. He told me how there are colors that can’t be seen in this world, and that there is a feeling of such indescribable peace that there are no worries or fear whatsoever. He talked to my Uncle Bob, whom he has never met. He saw hell because God wanted him to know it was real. God let him know that Love saves people from hell.

At the time, I was understandably thrown for a loop. Sage grew up fairly obsessed with Pokemon cards and being read the stories of Brer Rabbit, not the Bible — a fact I am not proud of. I had no idea where all this was coming from. It seemed odd content for a hallucination that would arise out of prior knowledge or interests.

I told his doctor about it, and he told me about the book If Heaven Is for Real. I told my mom about it, and she mentioned the same book. I bought it.

It is about a 4-year-old boy who sees heaven during a life-threatening surgery. I’ve always been pretty skeptical about these things, and it wasn’t on my reading list.

The book was a quick read, and after I finished it, I remember lying on the bed feeling almost paralyzed. I called Sage into the room. Having read about how the boy saw a rainbow around the throne of God, I asked, “Did God sit down?”

My son said, yes, he was sitting on a throne. “What did it look like?” I asked. He told me about how a rainbow went around it.

At that point, I my mind did a flip and I started to feel really afraid. My son said, “There is a dark presence in this room. God wanted me to tell you that we are going to be in a very large spiritual battle.”

Note that I don’t recall discussing things like spiritual battles with my son at that point. I remember I had just started attending church, after the dream he had where he was quoting the Book of Revelation to me.

So there it is.

I’m convinced this was a true spiritual vision — God forgive me if I’m wrong. I really think that if all this was only neurologically based, then the vision would have been of something else entirely. Like Pokemon characters. But no, his visions have never had that sort of content. It is always God, Jesus, angels, demons, and things like exploding nuclear bombs and parched earth.

We don’t watch the news and never have. We don’t have television since I discovered that watching it was causing him to stutter several years ago. So I can’t attribute this to something he had watched a few days prior.

I am so thankful for this. This vision caused me to completely desire to follow Jesus, to give my life to God. I count myself as very fortunate, as my intellectualism had set up many arguments against much in the Bible being literally true. Being a part of this experience has forced me to put my feeble human arguments aside and simply praise God that he permitted me to see.

And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. Revelation 4:3

Is Your Reality a Prison?

So beautiful, but ultimately incomparable to the lushness of a living tree.

So beautiful, but ultimately incomparable to the lushness of a living tree.

I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’s The Weight of Glory. It blows my mind, really.

In it, he talks about how what we see is so limited compared to what is real. He tells this story:

There’s a woman, an artist, who is pregnant and imprisoned in a tiny cell. The cell has a tiny sliver of a window high above. The tiniest glimpse of sky is visible.

She gives birth. The son grows up seeing nothing but the gray walls of the prison cell. Of course, she wants her son to know what the outer world is like, so she spends her days sketching trees, rivers, animals and other aspects of the physical world.

One day, her son makes a remark that indicates he believes the outer world is made up of lines like the ones his mother made on the paper. When she tries to explain, that no, reality is gorgeous and three-dimensional, he appears skeptical. It is beyond his imagination.

We are like this boy. If it is not visible, not proven by a law of physics, not experienced by us directly, then we cannot believe it is real.

Are we really that unimaginative? Are our minds really that small?

Well, yes. I think we should be more humble about just how limited our capacity to understand the nature of universe actually is. Isn’t it arrogant, really, to believe that we understand even one percent of what is actually going on?

So when people claim that visions are nothing more that neurons misfiring, or that demons are a product of an ancient and outdated mindset, I question that. Just because we are now aware of neurons doesn’t mean we have any idea why they behave the way they do, for example.

My mind has been opened to all sorts of possibilities, and it was not because I wanted it to be. I was quite content in my ignorance, although not happy.

I’ve learned that truly having an open mind doesn’t just mean having the desire to understand other people’s perspectives. It means that my mind is open to the idea that we just might not know very much at all, and that God has far more to teach me than any classroom could begin to offer.

And I love that God’s kingdom is so much more lush than anything I can see.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32

Click on the tree to see information about the artist.

Is it Possible to Drown and Not Know it?

drowning culture

If only the danger we are in was as obvious as this tsunami.

I have so much to say.

Saturday, my friend Gen told me about a dream she had. It was so similar to dreams I’d had that I got chills and cried. I knew it was from God. (More on why I’m so convinced about that in a later post.)

So Sunday morning, I’m in church. We’re singing, and I’m sitting there thinking that I want to share this dream with the congregation. It was only the fourth time I’d attended, and I wasn’t feeling at all comfortable about it. I finally set it aside and decided not to worry about it.

Then my friend tapped me on the arm. “The pastor wants to pray for you,” she said.

He did. He prayed that I be free from caring what other people thought — not him, not my parents, friends, anyone — and that I speak God’s word clearly.

Later, I asked him why he prayed what he did, since it felt like he had read my mind. He simply told him the Holy Spirit said to pray that for me. No big deal.

So later I got up my nerve and shared the dream with the church. I’ll share it with you as well. Remember, this is Gen’s dream. I was in it, and because of my own similar dreams, I feel as though I was there.

It’s pretty simple. Gen and I were walking to a creek. There were lots of other people going as well. When we got there, there were thousands of people all waiting to cross the creek, which was threatening to overflow its banks and drown everyone.

We began to run back, but almost everyone else stayed, risking their lives because they didn’t realize how quickly they could be swept away and drown.

As we ran, we warned all the people we saw heading to the creek to turn back — that it was dangerous. The few other people who had also turned back did not bother to warn anyone.

And that is it.

The creek is our culture. We are all in danger of drowning in an massive swell of celebrity worship, porn, materialism, and so forth. Not very many people realize the spiritual danger they are in. The people who do don’t have the nerve to warn other people.

It’s easy to understand. No one wants to be told that their culture is a sewer. No one wants to think their decision to watch The Walking Dead or to listen to the latest AM hate radio show is bad for their soul. Or that buying a bunch of junk to soothe their pain isn’t helpful because they are trading their work, their life, for…nothing.

No one wants to think about the fact that porn is so ubiquitous that many parents consider it “normal” when their teenage — or younger — sons look at it on the computer.

It would make us feel bad about ourselves.

We don’t want to feel bad about our choices. We want to have high self-esteem, to feel that whatever we do is ultimately okay, that our choices are an expression of freedom.

Well. I spent most of my adult life in chains. Most of the time I couldn’t see my prison or the fact that the choices I made — including the choice not to take God seriously — were the reason I was a wreck.

Ugh.

It’s hard to talk like this. I feel like I’m inviting hate, and that’s scary. I know how I used to feel — the scorn I had for people who dared to question my choices was unmatched. I loathed people I deemed to be religious fanatics. I thought, “Who are they to use their fairy tales to question my lifestyle?”

God definitely has a sense of humor.

But I had to share this. I believe we are drowning, and it’s not love to sit back and watch.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

The Dream That Transformed My Life

love and lightThere’s this person on my Facebook friend’s list who I never knew all that well, although he was a very close friend of my husband and some of our mutual friends. These days, though, I feel as though I know him much better, even though we haven’t exchanged a word in years.

About three years ago, this person’s life took a pretty bad turn, with addiction taking over his and his girlfriend’s lives. The girlfriend was pregnant, which made the situation particularly bad. My husband talked about his concerns a few times. My reaction was to condemn the guy, saying things like, “What a trashy life” and “that poor baby.” I am ashamed to admit I felt a degree of disdain.

One night, I dreamed this guy was dead. He was so dead that his face was green and moldering. His friends were so sad. They gathered around him and let him feel every bit of the love they had for him. That love came from God. The guy came back to life. He was glowing, happy, reborn.

I felt jealous of all the love this guy got — it was so powerful and transforming! God said to me, “Do you want to feel some of this love?” So for a moment, I stood under a literal shower of love and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever felt in my life — asleep or awake.

This was more than a feeling, though. It was powerful, alive, light. It woke me up.

It is worth selling everything for.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44

I found the treasure!

What’s more, the guy in my dream found it too. I had no idea, until my husband mentioned he had posted some stuff about God on Facebook. I sent him a friend request, and discovered that he has been healed of his addiction and is truly born again!

I love how God reprimanded me for my unloving, judgmental attitude in the most loving way imaginable. I am changed.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle, though. I sometimes still want to gossip and judge. I can relate to Paul’s struggle.

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

There is no doubt in my mind we are in a spiritual battle.

I know who wins, though. Love conquers all.

Photo Credit: Ms. D. Meanor