Time and time again, I’ve had a recurring dream. I am riding my bike toward a large, Victorian house on a pleasant, tree-lined street. I stop in front of the house, set my bike against a tree, and walk inside. There is a strong feeling I am looking for something, but I don’t know what. I look around and see multiple doors, knowing there is something of great value to be found behind one of them. I open the first door; it is glass, and enter a nearly empty room, devoid of furniture or furnishings, and there I see hanging on the wall a huge wood-framed oval mirror. In front of the mirror, there is a long line of people quietly standing before it. I take a place at the end of the line.
The people in the room are not familiar to me, except one: Rachel Simeon, a woman friend, the pastor at a local Methodist church. (Though I was not a Methodist practitioner, I went to her church frequently to hear her speak. The sermons invigorated me; they were heartfelt and personal, and her words paved a steady comfortable path at a time when I was walking a rocky road in my life).
One at a time, a person stepped forward and stood before the mirror. What happens next was startling. A great white beam of light shone from the mirror and into the person’s eyes; instantaneously, her face lit up with inexplicable joy. She turned and walked away as the next person stepped forward to face the mirror, as if to step forward for Communion.
Was there a choice to make here? Can one choose to stand in the light of Oneness, God, the Eternal Flame (however you choose to name it)? Do we have the power to turn away from darkness, fill our lives with joy and light by the grace of our own will? Or must we only recognize the Light and simply allow it to shine within?
When it was my turn, I tentatively stepped forward. What was most memorable was not that I looked into the light, embraced it as my own, and walked away as an enlightened, radiant and beatific human being. No. What most stood out was the fact that in order to get in sync with the light, I had to change my vantage point. Just turn my head a mere 30 degrees so that my eyes would sync with the beam streaming from the middle of the mirror, and lock in place. Only then could I receive it.
The dream ends here: I’m still standing in front of the mirror and feel myself holding back from looking straight into the light.
Maybe it was too bright and I felt incapable of holding its power. Or maybe I was afraid of its magnificence, afraid of how my mundane reality could be pierced by the light, and I could be shattered with a Love so great I would be unable to contain it.
I looked back at Rachel (she, herself, a guiding light) and looked back in the mirror. Then I woke up. I felt no failure. Instead the dream simply imparted a lesson, and that is, no matter what, no matter what…I can choose lightness or darkness.
Some months later, I came across the poem, Annunciation, by Marie Howe. I almost fell off my chair. It seemed to exactly parallel my dream experience. It was stunning how similar my event matched her interpretation of the Light.
Even if I don’t see it again—
nor ever feel it I know it is—
and that if once it hailed me
it ever does—
And so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as towards a place,
but it was a tilting within myself,
as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where it isn’t – I was
blinded like that—
and swam in what shone at me
only able to endure it by being no one and
so specifically myself, I thought
I’d die from being loved like that.