Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

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The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning “inland” or “in the middle of the land” (from medius, “middle” and terra, “land”). –Wikipedia

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Today marks the one-year anniversary of our beautiful trip to Mallorca, Spain to visit my lost-and-found father. So I have decided to re-post some of my series entitled Spanishoeprints.  At the top of the screen, you can also click on the page with the same title for an assortment of photographs and journal writings from our trip.

I will never forget that day when we looked out of the airplane window and saw Mallorca for the first time from the sky. First we saw the pure and blue Mediterranean sea, then what appeared to be Middle Earth in the art of Tolkien.

imagesIt was a magical three-dimensional game board- green and terracotta with the curves of stone streets and walls, the hammered out cliffs, the pencil lines of fields, square and triangular pastures, and the dots of sheep and almond trees.  The game pieces were steeples and palaces and monasteries set in spirals that rose gently with the slopes to the tops of mountains.

I will never forget that feeling of being a Hobbit in the Shire for three magical weeks with my father and my son. I still dream of the place and long for the time when I can return…Sometimes I try to pretend it wasn’t real because the hollowness I feel becomes almost unbearable. Please pray for me that I may continue to “follow the light unflinchingly”.

Peace & Grace,

“Sister Olive”

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“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

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From “The Iris Diaries”

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Based on a true story

Bell Tower at Furman University, Greenville, S...

A friend of Iris named Christian went on a trip with his family to Greenville, South Carolina.  When he came back, he told Iris he felt like he was in heaven while he was there, that it was a beautiful town built around a river, and the Spirit ministered to him in a powerful way.  He attended a church that affected him deeply, and he said that he was hearing the voice of the Spirit in a way that he never had in the past. 

Christian talked about one day that he was with his sister and they crossed a stone bridge near the river with hills all around, and suddenly he heard what sounded like harp music.  He paused and looked around and spied a little girl with long golden hair playing a harp beside the river.  Christian turned to his sister and said, “Am I in heaven or what?” 

          After hearing him describe Greenville, Iris reminded him about their previous conversation, “Green seems to be the color right now.  You said before that you dreamt of angels that seemed to be cut out of green emeralds, and you had a green afterglow in your eyes all night. 

“And I have had two vivid dreams recently: one of a green wheel with mysterious inscriptions on it, and another of a green tree that was peaceful and lush and fragrant as I would imagine the tree of life to be.”

          Christian replied, “Well, I guess green is the color of life.”

          “Yes” said Iris, “and the color of healing.”

Soon after their conversation, Iris decided to visit some troubled young men at a nearby detention center.  When she arrived and turned in her car keys at the front desk, she saw a lady coming down the hallway to lead her to the dormitories.  She recognized her from church, though she had never formally met her.  The woman was wearing a green dress, and Iris asked her what her name was.  “Miss Green,” she said, shaking Iris’s hand and smiling.  As they walked toward the dorms, Iris peered into a classroom and saw a huge poster of a glorious green tree, which looked like the one in her dreams!  Iris knew then that God was close by her and that she would be fruitful in her labors.

          She felt the Spirit as she ministered to the youth during their conversations and prayers, and several of the young men said they could feel God’s presence in the room. 

“Are you a missionary?” one of them asked Iris.  She laughed, and said, “Well, I’ve been told that I am by different people, so I suppose so.” 

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(From “The Iris Diaries”)

Iris dreamed that Sister Sheilah was planting small fruit trees in the sanctuary.  When someone approached as she was working, she said, “the King has not arrived yet.” 

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 11:30)

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A plum tree

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA(From “The Iris Diaries”)

“Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?” (Job 38:22)

Iris had an odd dream.  She was lying in bed on a snowy day, and suddenly the snow came right through the ceiling and was falling on her bed!  She awakened inside the dream and looked up and wondered what was happening.  She leaned toward the window and saw that her neighbor’s curtains were open and the snow was also falling on his bed.  He too had awakened and looked toward his ceiling with a confused look.

Then Iris heard a voice saying, “When God is ready to open the heavens, no one will be able to prevent what He sends down.” 

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I had a dream that I was standing in the grass behind a great Victorian style mansion with a woman who healed animals.  It was a gusty and cloudy day. The sky was full of birds soaring through a web of branches and wind, and she could just reach out her hand and catch a bird.

She held them and turned them over lovingly, inspecting their stomachs and legs and wings for wounds or diseases.  As she touched their infirmities with her beautiful graceful hands, they were instantly healed.  Then she opened her hands and released them.

She also attended to a small sick kitten, feeding it green grapes as part of its healing.  I knew something spiritual was happening, because a predator was eating fruit.

Isaiah the prophet wrote of how “there would be no hurt or harm” in the Holy Mountain, and I can’t help but notice there seem to be more animals than humans there, and more children than adults:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

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(Some Questions for Readers)

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.  (Matthew 12:25)

I cannot comment on other religions and whether they have the same problems, but Christianity seems to me to be terribly fragmented, along sociological, ideological, and denominational lines.  All of these divisions are rendering our faith ineffective and even laughable to those outside of Christianity, so I wanted to post an essay addressing one issue:  division along racial lines.

I wrote this piece a year or so ago, and have wanted a forum to discuss this problem for a long time.  I hope that you will read it and comment on the questions at the end.

Peace & Grace,

Olive

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Sacred Segregation in the South

“At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.”  -Martin Luther King

Black and white people work together, attend school together, and frequent the same restaurants and theatres.  But here in the south, they usually choose to worship separately.  I have been the sole white member of an African-American church for the past ten years, and I find this mystifying and disturbing.  When I have invited whites to come with me to church, they usually make excuses not to come.  If they do visit, they never return. I am curious if this is unique to this area, or if it extends further.  I will share a few experiences that have made me wonder about this.

When I was a child attending a Baptist church in North Carolina, I heard the preacher ask the congregation not to bring any of their black friends to church.  Although I was so young at the time, it didn’t sound right to me.

In more recent times, I asked a prison chaplain for information about the ministerial association in my area and was told that there are two; one for white ministers and one for black ministers. I could not understand why.  Are they afraid of each other?  He also told me “it is very unusual for a white person to willingly come under the leadership of a black preacher, although it is not as rare for it to be the other way around.”

I read a newspaper article by a black preacher who remarked that their church had “broken the racial barrier” because one white person had begun attending there.  I found that to be a bit of an overstatement.

I heard a black preacher speak at a juvenile detention center during Black History Month a couple years ago, and he proudly stated that all of the great patriarchs in the Bible were men of color, including King David and Solomon.  He said that Jesus Christ Himself was a man of color.  I have no objection to any of these statements, because it makes no difference to me whatsoever.  But it raised questions in my mind about whether this is evidence that people still harbor racist feelings, causing them to want to preserve one segregated realm.  It is my desire to explore this issue with more depth and find out why blacks and whites seem to prefer to remain separate in this one arena of religion.

My parents participated in civil disobedience in north Florida in the sixties to show their support for oppressed blacks.  They were arrested while trying to integrate buses in Tallahassee.  My father described how the bus driver looked in the rear view mirror and saw what was happening, and radioed the police. The driver said that the inside of his bus looked “like a checkerboard.”

The Ku Klux Klan has also had many demonstrations in St. Augustine, and in the center of the town, the remains of a slave market still stand as a grim reminder of the town’s history.  Although city officials deny that the spot was ever really a slave market, a close friend of mine says that she remembers her father telling her that when he returned from World War I, he saw an auction of slaves taking place there.

A Flagler College student named Jeremy Dean produced and directed a documentary called “Dare Not Walk Alone” about the civil rights movement in Saint Augustine, Florida. At the end of the film, he photographed the part of town where many of the blacks live, to raise the question of whether there is truly “equality” for blacks in the present time.

I have met two ladies from the “Saint Augustine Four” who were arrested in Woolworth’s for trying to order lunch in 1963, when it was a “whites only” restaurant. One of them still has pains in her knees from scrubbing floors while she was in prison for this “crime.” I apologize that their names escape me, but one of them showed me a scrapbook with photographs and articles about the demonstrations in the “oldest city.”

I joined a black church in 2003, and I know that the Spirit led me there.  I had a dream about a group of black prophets many years ago, and I will discuss that in a separate memoir.  My experience has been that God always leads me to places where He can take me to the next level in my spiritual growth.

I am not the first white person to find my calling and fulfillment in a black church.   Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian martyr from Germany who studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York, attended the First Abyssinian Church in Harlem.  He states that this church transformed him from a Christian scholar to a man of God.  My experience is quite similar.  Through a black church, I found my identity as a daughter of the King.

Like Bonhoeffer, I found that the liberty and passion of the black worship services enabled me to pour out my heart to God and to establish a relationship with Him in a new way.  This is the most marked difference between white and black worship services that I have been a part of.

In my church, people can worship outside the program- they can sing a spiritual, give their testimony, run to the altar to cry and pray, or whatever is necessary to find their wholeness in God.  There is seldom a time limit, and the service continues until everyone feels refreshed and equipped to deal with their personal trials.

There are many amazing practices in my church that remind me of the early church in the Book of Acts.  Pastors take their entire congregations and choirs to visit other churches.  They cross denominational lines to have fellowship with each other, and uphold the doctrine of the house that they are visiting when they enter.

Also, if someone in my church is in a nursing home or hospital, the pastor and his wife and sometimes the whole congregation will end the services and go to visit the church member who cannot be present because of their infirmity.

Also, it is beautiful to see the high level of respect shown to the “church mothers”. These are the older women who are called upon to render their wisdom in important church decisions.  Several of them are widows.  Though many of them are desperately poor, they are treated like queens at church.

The chaplain I mentioned earlier told me that he attends a black church once a month to compensate for the hugs that he is deprived of in his white church.  I can attest to the warmth of my own experiences in the black churches as well.

So I would like to ask my question again:  Why do blacks and whites prefer to worship separately in the south?  I find it odd that the black congregations are willing to cross denominational lines to visit one another, but they don’t cross racial lines.  Is it merely cultural differences that cause races to remain separate in church, or is it something deeper?  Is it just a tendency to remain in our “comfort zone”?

Perhaps we are comfortable with superficial interactions across racial lines, but we still want to keep other races at “arm’s length”?  I’ve had whites ask me if I am at all scared to go to “that neighborhood.”

I understand that the style of worship in black and white churches is very different in many ways.  But some of the livelier Pentecostal and charismatic churches seem to be similar enough for the different races to feel comfortable worshiping together.

Are the churches so radically different as to warrant this separation?  Or could it be something else?  A friend of mine told me recently that there are two national gospel competitions- one for blacks and one for whites.  He said that if they competed together, a black singer would win every time.

The first time I took my sons to a black church, my eldest son said “I never want to go anywhere else again.”  He said it because it was so joyful and passionate and exciting.  I have seen many a black preacher set fire to his congregation, and I’ve seen many white preachers put my children to sleep.  It makes me think of a poster I’ve seen on the wall of a professor’s office.  It depicts Jesus sitting in the front row of a church, asleep with a newspaper on his lap.

I have heard members of quieter churches raise questions about whether some charismatic churches are just engaging in “theatrics” or creating a “show business” environment. Some people are convinced that many of these services that include prophetic messages and wonders are “staged.”

I’m not trying to insult anyone, but to simply share my own experiences.  I want to raise some questions to my readers, and I would covet your responses:

Is your church integrated in terms of race? 

In your area, are churches mostly segregated or otherwise?

Have you ever visited a church where the congregation is a different race than yourself? 

Did you feel comfortable or uncomfortable?  Please explain.

What are your views about why many churches are still so segregated? 

What possible solutions do you see to this problem?

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(From the Iris Diaries)

The woman who loves the wind is always dreaming of a road.  Though it is tiresome and lonely at times, she senses that the path is ascending gently under her soft little feet.  It rolls out like a divine scroll before her, with new words and new mercies each day.

She knows that the end of the path holds great rewards and secrets that her natural eyes are too dim to see.  She has spiritual eyes that have beheld a few shadows of glory beyond the veil.  She told a close friend about one of her most memorable spiritual dreams:

In one of my dreams, I was the innkeeper of an old rustic lodge by the side of a lonely road, and I provided hospitality to many travelers.  I worked hard to make people as comfortable as possible when they came. I always stayed very busy preparing food and cleaning out rooms and decorating with flowers and candles and art.

There was a certain man who visited the inn on several occasions. He was kind and gracious, and I always felt awkward in his presence. Each time he came, I felt more of a bond of friendship with him, but I often felt as though my services were inadequate.  He was always grateful, but I was always looking for ways to improve.  Each time the man returned to the inn, I felt great joy about his coming.

During one particular visit by the man, I felt that something was about to happen and our interaction was different, because my heart began to flutter unexpectedly and I sensed that he had come for a special purpose.  He was especially warm and gentle in his demeanor and it made me even more nervous and concerned than before. 

I was bustling around anxiously, when suddenly he stopped me and ordered me to sit down.  He asked me how I was doing and how I felt.  I replied that I was fine, and he startled me by sitting on the floor in front of my chair and massaging my feet!  His eyes were searching my face with concern.  I was astonished and confused.

Then the man got up and said, “Wait here.  I have something to show you.”  As he went outside I rose and stood in the doorway to watch, and I saw him returning.  I realized his hands were full of huge diamonds glowing in the sunlight! The light was pouring out of them like rivers as he strode up to the doorstep. I have never seen such large and brilliant stones. One gigantic diamond was set in a ring he wore upon his hand and light was flowing out of it in colorful strands. 

The man stepped inside and spread the gems out on the table, and spoke these words:  “I am a stone-cutter and I only work with the purest diamonds because I want to bring out the brightest light from inside of them.”  As he talked, he picked out particular ones from the table and held them up to show me. 

Then he removed the fiery diamond ring off of his own hand and held it up before my eyes, and said  “You see, I would never dream of giving anything but the most perfect stone to my daughter, or to my…” I woke up before he could say the last word.  But the word “bride” hung in the air like a moment that is never forgotten. Tears sparkled like diamonds in my eyes- tears of holy and eternal love.

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