Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fix Your Gaze on the Supernatural, Part II

If I wrote with conviction in the first part of this post, it's because I was leaning heavily on a remarkable dream from six years ago.  It has always struck me as more than just a dream--or else I wouldn't bother to write about it.  Though I was asleep, it was an experience of great clarity and vividness of color and image.  It also progressed at a patient pace, as though I was supposed to savor and remember every little detail.  Simply put, the whole experience felt as though God was showing me something.

The day of the dream had been a grueling one.  I had no children at the time, and so I was able to spend six hours outside of the Beaverton Planned Parenthood with the 40 Days for Life apostolate.  During those hours, we prayed, shared faith stories, talked to the curious, and absorbed the blows of the angry.  For whatever reason, those who resented us displayed even greater anger and confrontation than normal.  Even more sorrowful, several of the post-abortive women were visibly traumatized by their abortion.  One Indian woman pushed away from her husband and children and vomited in the bushes.  Another woman could barely walk, and her boyfriend, a successful-looking urban professional, looked simultaneously helpless and guilty.  I thought they looked like Adam and Eve, newly wounded, limping away from the Garden of Life.  I guess I felt helpless too, overwhelmed with the sin and suffering, and so the dream mercifully followed.

The dream began with a distant view of a knoll set in a fertile valley.  On the knoll was a glorified Christ, bloodlessly reigning from his cross.  I understood that the valley was lush and fertile only because His cross was planted there.  Then the image zoomed forward and I saw myself behind the cross, half sitting, half-reclining in his crucified shadow.  I hoped I would always remain there, in his refuge.  Then the view shifted, and I was looking out from my seat behind the cross.  I looked at the wood of the cross, smooth and strong, a tree like steel.  Then our Lord's powerful thigh was before my eyes.  It was tan and muscular like an ancient Roman sculptor's ideal, though Christ's body was not like marble but was coursing with life.

I desired to lift my gaze upward along Jesus' body, but couldn't do so.  All I was allowed to see was a leg.  Then my view was directed to the sky and great clouds assembled, covering every inch of skyline.  It began to rain, a torrent of drops drenching every thing in sight.  It continued to rain and rain and rain.  The drops dripped in steady beads from my brow and cascaded down the cross, forming streams down our Lord's leg.  I followed the stream down Christ's leg and saw something remarkable take place in the earth.

A myriad of rivulets were formed from the rain water, and moved with tiny purpose.  It was evident that this wasn't ordinary rain water.  All of my attention was now focused on the innumerable paths of the water. The water was patient, and able to work its way along every crack and crevice in the ground.  It wound its way past tiny pebbles, over gleaming minerals, and along hard or soft soil.  I thought of the Vidi Aquam: "I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple [Christ's body], and all those to whom the water came were saved."  Then I recalled St. Faustina's diary, and the Divine Mercy image of blood and water.

After watching the waters for some time, I looked up towards the clouds.  I knew the clouds would never stop pouring.  They would never empty or move on.  The rain drops glistened and fell like tiny parachutes.  They were uncountable, a superabundance of grace from heaven.  The world was saturated with grace, and nothing was untouched by Christ.

When I awoke, I regained my hope for the poor men and women I had seen leaving Planned Parenthood.  Their very misery was itself a grace trying to crack their hardened hearts.  Even vomiting in the bushes can be a grace!  I knew God would pursue them through every twist and turn of their lives, calling them back to Him.

I was sure that our Christian witness outside of Planned Parenthood was a little trickle of grace through many lives.  We might seem like failures at the purely natural level, and we won't know the fruits of our charity this side of heaven.  I was also grateful that the Lord was with the 40 Days for Life crew, placing his faithful witnesses in the shadow of his cross, where we reclined. We've taken blows from every side, but God is with us.  We know that to many of our fellow catholics and even clergy, we are an embarrassment, an expression of "zealotry" or an "imbalanced faith".  But that's okay.  One person's 'zealot' is another man's 'fool for Christ'.  Perhaps it's time for the critics to put on their supernatural glasses.

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