PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Sunday, June 20, 2004

 

Dream or vision?




I don't dream much when I sleep and in the few times that I do, I dream about things I couldn't remember much.



But this one dream of another person is way too different. I think it's more of a vision than a dream. The writer saw images telling him about the things God doesn't like about him. It was disturbing to the core of his being.




My Concealed Iniquities



(to be read at a meditative, leisurely pace.)



I'm not proud of them, let's make that very, very clear at the outset.

But God does reveal our hidden sins. He reveals our sins if (1) we want them to be made known to us personally, and (2) God grants the grace for it according to His plans. We're talking here about hidden sins, so we don't include the sins that we are aware of, the ones that are deliberate and thus more obvious to us.


I had two instances where condition (1) happened. One night before retiring to bed, I asked the Lord to reveal to me in a dream one sin which I was not aware of that offended Him so much. And which is probably causing me a little physical illness.

I was surprised at the specificity of the answer: God revealed He is offended when I don't share my food whenever I eat snacks in the office. It is a very simple commandment of love which I am breaking, it was made known to me. I love my little snacks so much that I wouldn't want to share them with anyone. Clearly, even just a little selfishness has no place in God's generous heart.



In a retreat given to our community by G.G., we were made to list down individually the things God likes in each of us best and the things God doesn't like in us most. This was in order that each may know "how I am known".

Surprise! God loves it the most, I have found, when I weigh carefully the pros and cons of anything I do particularly in terms of whether this or that would offend God or not. But it also infuriates God, too, whenever I make rash judgments or presume things as though I were in the know. Understandably, the latter leads to unfair accusations, or even to the fatal sin of bearing false witness. Put simply, I tend to have a judgmental attitude, my own opinion I tend to view as gospel truth. I am quite opinionated, period.

The retreat master noticed that usually our best-and-worst traits are diametrically opposed, a proof that it was God whom we have heard. It's an Ignatian idea, she said. She advised us to confess to a priest the negative things about us that we've listed down. A few couldn't help but break down in tears when they learned about their hidden sins.

And now for No. (2). On the night that I made a little commitment with God in my community, I was given a grace which I treasure most - a revelation of four more personal flaws I believe God wants me to confront little by little. He gave this revelation in a dream where I was with friends leisurely traveling on foot on the road to what looked like Baguio, sunny but cool weather, pine trees, sloping walkways. At one point I found myself traveling the road all of a sudden all by myself, as though to point out that life's journey is ultimately our own personal journey; others couldn't possibly take it in our place. And that at the end of the day, faith shall always be a matter between us and our God alone.

As I was walking by myself in that leisurely pace, a sequence of four panels of roadside images appeared. It was as though I stumbled into a theme park of allegories, symbols, metaphors specially tailored for me, almost like a Hieronymus Bosch triptych. The first showed a little stream bounded by the greenest shrubs and trees, a life-giving stream with many hoses that feed into another, one after another, downstream.

Then suddenly, the water-flow stops and the lush and vibrant scenery cuts into the second panel, a surprisingly bare, arid, hot and rough (sandy and rocky) cavern the color of beige which gaped at me like an ugly monster.

The next panel was an image of a thick, high wall built of roughly hewn limestone.

The last panel in this sequence was another similar structure but with a conspicuous sign that was reversed, as though I suddenly had dyslexia. The road sign was the name of a resort town in reverse.

I was crossing the first panel feeling refreshed but getting bored through time. I interpret this dream sequence as speaking about my tendency towards complacency, the tendency to get bored and become impatient of doing good.

The second, where I was feeling dry and desolate, I understand to speak about my tendency to give in to self-pity and depression in trying times. I tend to linger on the negatives longer than necessary.

Which likewise logically leads to the third, an impregnable wall which represents my unapproachable self. In retrospect, I realize how much carefully I choose the people I deal with in life, how I close myself in a shell - or put up a wall of defense - when it comes to people I don't like, how I surround myself with a wall. Instead of becoming a channel of grace, I tend to build a wall.

In the last panel, I am being giddy with excitement, raring to have fun. But the trouble is, I am getting excited about a distorted kind of fun, as the reversed road-sign suggests. Indeed, I'm someone who finds keen interest in a whole spectrum of artistic endeavors that may not be exactly beautiful in the eyes of the Lord.


These unexpected realizations stunned me upon waking up. Yet the images themselves were all gentle, never accusatory. They brought me into a rather long, reflective pause where I tried to ponder and process what has just been revealed to me, a heady mix of sorrow for sin, gratefulness at the revelation of my neatly concealed iniquities, concealed perhaps in my subconscious, and the resolve to straighten out the kinks in my life even more, even though slow by slow, little by little.

6.6.2001


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