You know you are in trouble, dream-wise, when you start your sleep with a former bishop included in the dream. And he’s no longer living. I really don’t know if my mind is still working to process my former career, or whether the CoVid junk creates a warped story in my subconscious, but the dumb dreams continue. Now, I wear a Fitbit, which tells me every morning that I am really getting some good sleep – even some nights over 8 hours – and I truly don’t wake up that often, at least in terms of being 63 and all. And by “wake up,” I don’t have to go to the room down the hall or anything like that… it’s just that when I am asleep, the dreams are what my youngest son would call, “really messed up.”
Take last night. Please. As I can recall, the dream started with me being at yet another conference of some sort. Everyone was of course meeting in small groups to do something pretty important, and that meant I couldn’t find my room. I went down hall after hall, and pretty soon, the rooms no longer had numbers on them, and most all the doors were closed. Who does that? Anyway, after wandering forever, it seemed, and then asking numbers of persons where my room was, and being laughed at, or ignored or being told they feel sorry for me, I finally walked by one room with the door partly open, and there, for some reason, were the people I was supposed to meet with.
As I mentioned, the bishop was there. All things considered, he looked pretty good. The group was passing around a very large paper bag with pieces of other paper in it. Everyone needed to take a piece of paper, and then lead the group in the discussion that was written on it. Except no one was doing that. They would take a piece of paper, pass the bag along, and then just continue the conversation they were having. This was not arranged well.
Finally, someone said, “Well, we really need to talk about (we’ll call him “Archie”) Archie’s wife! I looked over to the person who is actually in real life one of my good friends, and he had his head hanging down, looking completely depressed. “What’s the problem with his wife?” I asked innocently. The room glared at me as if I beaten a small animal or something. “Of course you have heard about Ivan!” they spat out at me. Now, I don’t even know an Ivan, and the only thing I could imagine is that somehow Ivan, and Archie’s wife were “familiar.” Finally, someone explained that Ivan was a big (or maybe “pig” – I wasn’t sure) farmer in Iowa, and she announced she was planning to leave Archie to go live with the big/pig farmer. In Iowa.
Except, after that, no one talked about it anymore, and Archie remained distraught that after so many years, his beloved would be wooed away by either cash or pork. The confusing conversations continued for a while more, and then it was announced that the conference was getting back together in the big room that was somewhere else, and I didn’t know where that was either. I got up to walk out with everyone, when I was told – maybe by the no-longer-living bishop – that I had to have one more conversation before I could leave the room. Sitting beside me were a couple of other pastors that I sort of knew, but couldn’t recognize. I began the conversation.
“So, I bought some frozen pot pies,” I said, “ and what I think I’ll do is thaw them a bit, and take off the top crusts, and the scoop out the innards, and then take the bottom crust, and connect them to each other, and make a big crust that goes on the bottom of the pan.” As soon as I began to talk, the pastors started nodding, as if they knew exactly what I was going to do, and that it didn’t seem to be unique at all.
“I’m then going to pour the innards back onto the bottom crust, and mold…” Then they said, “Yeah, yeah – you’re going to put the top crusts on top and then bake it and have a big potpie casserole.” Let’s stop here for a moment, and come up for air. Unfortunately, as the dream progressed, it all made sense to me, and seemed completely logical that I would be discussing making pot pie casserole with some pastors I really didn’t know. Or even just making pot pie casserole, for crying out loud. So I asked them if they had heard about it before, and they again nodded their heads knowingly, and said, “Oh yeah – it’s a big church women’s group recipe. They’ve been doing this for years.” Interesting that I never heard about it. They then said – and this very quickly brought me awake – “Cool Whip.” “What?” “Take a carton of Cool Whip and mix it into the pot pie stuff – it’ll make it nice and creamy.” “And really sweet?” “Yes, but it helps the crust to brown.”
And I woke up. I never found my way back to the conference center, I never got to hold a discussion with my piece of paper, I never got to help Archie figure out what to do with his wife and the big/pig farmer, and I was only left with a recipe of how to make really horrible “pot pie casserole,” I guess.
When you have a dream like that – not a nightmare, but just one that is pretty dumb – you always hope that when you look at the clock, you are moments away from needing to get up. I looked at the clock, and it said, “1:40.” That meant I had about five and a half hours more to sleep. I did get up and went down the hall, but it was to get a glass of water, to rinse the Cool Whip taste out of my mouth.
At least it wasn’t real. I’ve had real life experiences that came close to that one! I do wish however, that – well, that they just would be different dreams. You know, there is a huge world out there that my subconscious could explore. But no. I guess madness is only separated from real life by a few rays of morning sun. As long as I am not having those types of thoughts during my daylight, I guess I’ll be ok.
Life is to be lived, and hopefully enjoyed. Certainly we are given the opportunity to experience a wide range of emotions, situations and the unfolding of the future, whether awake or asleep. I repeat – it’s not what happens to us that matters – it is what we do with what happens to us. For me, the crazy dreams are a chance to make fun of myself, as I guess I have the ability to remember them in pretty good detail. The less I take myself seriously, the more intentional I believe I can be to take other things in my life with a serious approach, and to use the gifts God has given me to change, alter, and bring hope and abundance to wherever I live. I’m not going to fix dumb dreams, but they aren’t real anyway. What I can work on in my waking hours does make all the difference, especially if I begin with prayer, so that the day is focused, not on crazy, but on God. Sweet dreams…
Word for the day: esoteric. Pronounced ess – oh -TERR-ick. It’s a common word, but most folks don’t know what it really means. Some would say it means things that are on the fringe, or that really don’t matter. Those things are not as valued as down-to-earth normal things.
But that’s not really what it means. The word comes from Greek esoterikos, or esotero, which is translated “belonging to an inner circle,” or “to move within, as in almost secret.” When something is esoteric, it really is only understood by an “enlightened” group, and a group of persons who understand the secret held by the participants. We have had secret societies for hundreds of years, and as long as they are “secret” – unlike the Kiwanis or the Lions Club – and you know which ones I may be referring to -- they will find the most valuable part of their group to be the things they hold secret. When I am on the inside, then I can claim that I am one of the few who either deserves to, or has the ability to know something you don’t know. Esoteric – not the nicest word in the book, but important to understand, unless you don’t understand…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.