Last night I dreamed about heaven. At least I think it was heaven. Or something like heaven at least. Dreams are like that, aren’t they? You think you know what they are about and then you remember another part to the dream and you begin to wonder. Well, last night’s dream was like that. Maybe it was heaven. Maybe not. But for sure, it was divine!
In my dream, I was first walking with my husband through a beautiful forest, kind of like the fairy forests in our childhood fantasies. Everything sparkled. Philip handed me a stick which turned into a scepter of sorts. At the end was a small, puffy globe as though made of feathers and kitty fur. (Hang in there with me, Men!) From the small, puffy globe emerged a tiny living thing. I’m not sure if it was a teensy-weensy bird or a butterfly or a bee. All I know is that it was tiny but still held power to praise the Lord. It kept hovering just above the puffy globe and everywhere I pointed the scepter, praises emerged.
I touched the trees. They praised the Lord. I touched the flowers. They praised the Lord. Then I lifted the scepter up toward the sky and I joined the trees and flowers and the tiny living thing hovering above my scepter in singing, “In Him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike! The Lamb is the Light of the City of God. Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.” (This chorus is from one of my favorite hymns, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” by Kathleen Thomerson. How nice of the trees and flowers and tiny living thing to sing something I knew the words to!)
Suddenly, I was in a place where another kind of worship service was to take place. I was sitting in an Upper Room of sorts, which overlooked a sanctuary through a large window. There were only three of us in the room. I was with two people I know, one of whom is now with the Lord and the other a young woman, very alive here on earth. The man who is deceased was sitting on a yellow plastic couch. (Who knew they needed more interior decorators in heaven?!) When he was alive, this man was a mentor to Philip and me and many others on the things of the Spirit, a real charismatic giant. The young woman is a strong, committed but cerebral Christian; a thinker and not really predisposed to the more mystical things of the Spirit realm. But here in this Upper Room, these two were having splendid conversation about the Holy Spirit.
I hated to leave but looking down through the window, I saw that the worship service had begun and I was running late. I left the two talking – the older man smiling his quirky, Holy Spirit smile and the young woman’s face intent on the conversation.
As I came toward the worship space I saw groups of people gathered outside and I didn’t understand until I walked through the entry and saw that the place was filled with people! Not just full, but FILLED to overflowing! And worship was happening everywhere.
An usher led me to a group of children from the Philippines, waiting to be welcomed in. They were seated cross-legged in a circle on the floor. When I embraced their leader, cheers went up and their praises began!
As I wandered around I found a group of cancer sufferers. They were all together in one group but not hurting or downcast. Their bodies still bore the scars of their sickness but their faces were joyous and glowing. There was no sickness to be found.
I came across another group of young adults, all who had Down Syndrome or other developmental disabilities. I recognized them by their distinct facial appearance but when I approached and received their joyful and expected hugs, I could find no other signs of a disability.
The elderly were there. So were the poor. And the rich. Some were seated. Some were standing. Some, like the Filipino children were on the floor. It somehow didn’t matter. Nothing did. Except the worship and the focus of our worship.
There’s only one thing that makes me wonder if my dream was about heaven. In it, I didn’t see a throne on which Jesus was seated – not in the worship space itself anyway. But I did see Him in the eyes of all who were gathered. I heard Him in their worship. I saw Him in their unity. Yes, in the cancer sufferers, those with disabilities, the elderly, the poor, the rich, the Filipino children, and all the worshipers – I COULD see Jesus. He was the reason they were there.
“I saw a vast crowd, too great to count,
from every nation and tribe and people and language…”
I guess I did dream of heaven last night.
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.