Friday, December 7, 2018

Dreams: looking oddly backwards while moving forward

Early this morning, as lay abed in the chill of December, I dreamt it was Good Friday- perhaps the result of reading Beckett before falling asleep. Being a deacon, it is my duty during Good Friday service to leave the sanctuary, make my way up the nave, go into the church's narthex, and emerge with the Cross that will be venerated by everyone else present as I hold it. This moment each year serves for me as something of a renewal of my commitment to serve my parish and the larger community in which I live.

On my way back up the narthex, I stop three times. The third stop is in front of the altar at the top of the chancel, facing my sisters and brothers. Each time I stop, elevating the Cross, I sing: Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world. To this sung verse, the congregation responds: Come let us adore (Good Friday, no. 15). My dream was set in the church of the parish to which I am presently assigned (my neighborhood parish, a mile from our house) but I was vested in the red vestments from my previous assignment: our Cathedral.

Crucifix over the altar at my parish

As I came around the altar to begin my trek up the nave to retrieve the Cross, my bishop suddenly appeared, wearing vestments that matched the ones I was wearing. Then, from the congregation, emerged a dear friend who died earlier this year. She was vested in the same diaconal vestments with which I was vested. She came alongside the bishop, to his left. Once she was there, everyone in the church (which was filled), began to prostrate. As they prostrated for the first time, being me, I thought, "What are they doing?! This isn't part of the service!" They prostrated three times. Setting aside my alarm at this rubrical anomaly, and thinking, "Well, it is the bishop" and "This seems fitting on Good Friday, especially given the large crucifix over the church's altar," I scrambled to the other side of my bishop and made it in time for the third prostration.

My friend was a mentor, a wonderful woman, one of the best Christians I have ever known. She was a prominent family law attorney and ended her career, which she interrupted for 20 years to raise her three children, as a state district court judge. She was quietly and genuinely pious. She was a person of deep and abiding faith, even through her last few years as she quietly battled the cancer she knew would ultimately kill her (and it did). In short, I cannot think of a person I know who lived such a diaconal life, that is, a life of service. What does it mean? I don't know. It was a nice dream. I awoke with a smile.

Anyway, as I thought about what our traditio might be for today, Matthew Wilder's 1983 hit "Break My Stride" came immediately to mind. This video and song are from the heart of the 1980s, which is why is why I find them both amusing and strangely comforting.



Ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no
I got to keep on movin'

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