I am at The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. It is a Trappist monastery that has served as a spiritual touch point for me most of my life. Many of my monk friends are now dead, buried in the cemetery behind the east end of the church. I miss them. But a few of my old compadres remain and brighten my spirit.
It is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and the spirit of the receptive Mary, accepting the startling message of her pregnancy, is all around the space and time. The Salve window at the front of the church has a modern portrayal of the Blessed Virgin Mary with an emergent Jesus seemingly in utero. The concluding liturgy of the Daily Offices of the monks is Compline, which offers a special veneration and appeal to Mary. This spiritual ethos formed me in ways that I can’t fully comprehend, leaving me surprisingly receptive for what this day might bring.
When the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, Judson Child, asked me what day I would like to be ordained to the priesthood on, my response was quick: The Feast of St. Mary….the Feast of the Assumption in the Roman Catholic world. As the day approached, I came out to the Monastery for a retreat to prepare for this long-awaited event.
On the night before my ordination, I had an unusual dream, with three distinct parts, as triptych is you will. It is not unusual for me to dream and to remember them, thanks to a habit I developed after encountering Ira Progoff in an Intensive Joiurnal workshop that we offered at the Center for Faith Development. However, this dream was unique in that there were three distinct components and was lengthy
The first section of the dream had me in a procession of monks, vested in cowled robes. But rather than the familiar habitat of a church, we were in the maritime forest, like the one I was familiar with on Cumberland Island, the southern most barrier island off the coast of Georgia. I was in the line processing into a space which had the familiar appointments of an altar, a lectern, and a pulpit. As the line arrived, I veered to the right toward the pulpit, and ascended the stairs, just like had done at the Cathedral. I stood their, silently, looking out, with no anxiety, simply being there in the space. That was enough. Being there, Fully present.
It was a profound lesson offered to me as I was preparing to embark on my journey as a priest, a lesson coming from the wisdom of my unconscious. But alas, I was young snd had lots to learn the hard way, obviously.
I will share the other two segments in my next two articles. But I want to share a key moment for me in my recent visitation to the Monastery.
I arrived on Wednesday and went to the office of Compline, as I said before, the final prayer service of the day, concluding with a gorgeous, lilting hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the dimming light of a day ending. It has been my favorite service for many years. After the liturgy ends, the Abbot give the abbatial blessing with the aspergillum flinging holy water on the heads of the monks who come in procession, bowing before the abbot , before heading off to Grand Silence and sleep.
I was seated in the back of the church and the abbot made a special trip to the back to welcome me to this house of prayer. What a special grace for me to receive his hospitality at this time in my journey. I am going to use this time here to read, study, write, and pray. I have a load in each of those four buckets. But my plan is to focus on the last one, prayer. If you are of the praying persuasion, offer one for me.
Next week, I will share the middle segment of the dream, which has the classic ironic twist of a dream, and a warning that perhaps I should have taken more seriously about the nature of the church. Blessings.
3 thoughts on “What Dreams May Come”
Dear David, thanks for your authentic sharing with our Wieman group and your “South of God” readers. Please know th
Good morning to you David,
I know this is a most blessed journey as you walk each moment in His presence. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. You are in my prayers every day on your spiritual retreat to read, study, write, reflect, and listen in prayer.
Peace and blessings, bk+