There is one dream which seems to have always been with me.
I've had it numerous times since I was young. And I've never known what it means or why it has proven to be the defining dream of my life so far... but all that may be coming into focus.
In the dream, I've exited a large amusement park at night. It's a very dark night—the sky is without moon or stars—and the only light visible is coming from the amusement park itself, which glows at the center of the black. From the parking lot, I can see that the action inside continues on. The periodic roar of people on roller coasters going through their drops and flips, the flashing lights of every imaginable color, the steady swirl of the Ferris wheel, and the symphonious, happy din of all those still inside—laughing, eating, playing games, riding rides, and going about the general business of having fun. And all of it glowing brilliantly on this spectacularly dark night... It's as though, if you were in the amusement park, you wouldn't even see how dark it is, and once you're outside of it, the glow of the park captures and demands your attention regardless.
So I'm standing in the parking lot. There are some people with me, but it doesn't always matter who they are. Occasionally, they've been family or close friends, but sometimes they're just nameless and faceless people.
AND THEN, IT HAPPENS.
The entire world flips 90 degrees. In a sickening instant, what was flat ground beneath my feet becomes a flat wall to which I'm hopelessly attempting to press my body against - a sheer cliff face with no holds for hands or feet. Large vehicles tumble around me and spin off into the black abyss below, but somehow I hold on. The people I'm with desperately claw at the asphalt as well. This doesn't last long. In the dream, I next get a sense that my shoulders are straining. My fingers chafe and burn from trying to hold on to nothing. And then I look up (or rather, to the side) at the amusement park... And unbelievably, it's still going on just as before as though nothing has happened, completely unaware that a great shift has taken place in the world. The park has so entertained and overwhelmed the senses that those inside have been kept from the reality of what has happened, and the gravity of it has not affected them. They have been preserved in this state of amusement, this bubble of escapism...
…And I wake up.
BUT AS A LITTLE TWIST TO THIS STORY... I HAVEN'T HAD THIS DREAM SINCE I FIGURED OUT WHAT IT MEANT AND WROTE IT DOWN.
The amusement park is the isolated and insular religious world I grew up believing I belonged to entirely and exclusively.
The outside world is exactly that. Everything that is not the bubble I knew.
The amusement park is so caught up in its own operations and entertainment that it is not addressing the real issues facing anyone outside of it. It is not dealing with what is really happening to those it expects to come to it and remain inside. It cannot even perceive that the whole world has turned.
And even though it shares the same ground with the parking lot, it cannot see itself in the same spot as everyone else. It has distracted itself from its own common place within what has happened.
When I realized all these things, and processed the implications, the dream stopped having any power over me.
It never came back.
I had known this eerie, sad nightmare regularly from childhood until I was into my 20's… But now, it was gone.
My subconscious mind was narrating something I already understood to be true. Over and over, it was weaving an image of what I needed to come to grips with in myself. The smallness of the System I had known to address the bigness of the world. The smallness of God as I had known God... The dream was an invitation to something bigger. It was a declaration of the position I was learning to take outside the world as I had known it. It was a manifestation of my growing heart to be accounted with outsiders and those on the margins.