I just woke from a dream.
In this dream I was at a religious conference. At this conference (along with the myriad of strangers) were my wife, several youth from my church, former professors, ministry partners and family members. The conference was just about to start when I realized that I’d forgotten a pen back at the car. I NEEDED a pen, but I also needed to be back by the time the conference started. I began to run back toward my car, but somehow I got turned around and found myself in the wrong area of the city. I turned around and began retracing my steps.
Now, in this dream I was also carrying a packet of money. It was wrapped up, but still everyone knew I was carrying a large packet of money and I knew it was unsafe for me to be carrying such a large sum. This gave me another reason to hurry on my way. I found myself blocked, however, by several small girls struggling under the load of several plastic grocery bags filled with what I thought was trash. As I followed behind them I wished they’d either hurry or move to the side so I could get on my way.
In the way of dreams, I knew these girls were not American. At the same time they were in another country and yet also immigrants to America. One of the girls suddenly dropped one of her bags. Out spilled some wilted vegetables and moldy grain. The little girls was crying, holding her blistered hands. This was the first moment I felt compassion for them.
“Let me help you,” I said, and I reached down to pick up the bag of spoiled food. This wasn’t garbage, it was what they expected to eat! This horrible food, the stench making me gag, was given to them by some aid agency as food relief for starving people. I understood this was not out of malice, but out of complacency & ignorance. People were giving their cast-offs to the needy and feeling good about themselves for having done so.
I noticed for the first time in the dream that I was dressed in nice clothes: fancy shoes (shined), slacks, leather belt, dress shirt. The girls were in second-hand clothing and rags.
The bag didn’t weigh much. “Why did she have such a hard time carrying this bag?” I asked one of the older girls.
“If you were so small and malnourished it would be difficult for you too,” she replied. “They’re supposed to weigh the bag according to what she can cary, but…” she let the thought trail off.
I followed them to where they lived, entering a squalid apartment filled with trash & dirt. I even saw the desiccated corpse of one of their own family lying in the hall. Again, in my dream, I knew this wasn’t by their own choice. These weren’t the conditions they wanted to live in. I became angry at their plight. How, amidst such wealth as I wore and carried on my person, could these people be reduced to living in this horrible state?
The girl I had been speaking to approached what I thought to be another corpse, but she began speaking to it. The body moved and I realized this was a grandmother, wasted away by starvation, but still clinging to life. “This man helped us bring the food,” she said. The body simply nodded.
The girl looked at me, for the first time with judgement in her eyes, “Promise me this will change. No one should have to live like this or watch their loved ones suffer and die in this way. Promise me!”
Tears had already begun to flow down my face. My held-back sobs were choking me. I knew a simple “yes” was insufficient. I know about not swearing by heaven or earth, that our “yes” should be yes and our “no” should be no … but these were inadequate. “By the blood of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I swear to you I will do everything I can to end this,” I said, and my tears flowed freely.
The old woman smiled and nodded at both the girl and myself. In my dream I began to pray to God for guidance … and that is when I awoke.
What do you do with a dream like that. I take it as a very real charge, a calling. I knew I needed to get up and write it down or I would forget it and go back to being who and what I was. I have been analyzing the pieces of the dream for possible secondary and tertiary meanings. Now I look around and begin to plan my next steps.