This evening I took a nap and fell into a deep sleep. My Meme, who passed away a few years ago, was in my dreams. So many things in the dream reminded me of who she was, brought back memories from my childhood, and refreshed me in how Jesus has been present through every season. So as always, I continue to be an advocate for Sunday afternoon naps, now and forevermore. Amen 😉
I walked into a room in a house that seemed slightly delapidated. There was old, dark brown carpet on the floor. There was one of the reddish-brown recliners that everyone had about 30 years ago, and there were lots of big leak stains all over a crumbling ceiling. It looked much like the den of my Meme and Papa’s house on Myrtle Street- the home that is a treasure trove of so many of my childhood memories, except their home had always been very well kept.
Oddly enough, the room was full of random people. I knew them all but all of them didn’t know my meme or one another. I suddenly realized my Meme wasn’t there in the group and asked my Papa, who was standing nearby, “Where is Meme?”
All of the people in the room began to glance at one another with a look of, “She must not know what’s going on…”
They were right. I didn’t.
My Papa motioned for me to come over to the wall where there was a large curtain, gave me a little wink and as he pulled the curtain back he told me, “Meme is staying somewhere else now.”
Behind the curtain was a room full of people and it was bustling with laughter and life. Some people were sitting at tables eating and others were standing and walking around talking. The crowd parted and I saw my meme standing across the room with her hand on the shoulder of another lady. The other lady had short brown hair that was fixed and pulled back on the sides with bobby pins. My meme was looking intently at the other woman with a smile on her face, and shaking her head as she reassured her of something.
I didn’t know the lady but it was strange for me to see my Meme taking this roll in a crowded space. Anyone who knew my Meme knows that she was an introvert- who was quiet much of the time. But here, plainly before me, my Meme was very relaxed and even seemed to be outgoing, as she shared something with this other woman.
I was carrying Cedar, and Yamilet walked beside me. I desperately wanted to talk to her. I walked across the room but couldn’t find her. I asked someone where she was and they told me that she had gone outside.
So Cedar, Yami and I went outside to find her sitting beside a flower bed. She was overjoyed to see us. She hugged me and I said, “Here is Yami, Meme!” She said, “Oh, I know! She is growing up and getting so beautiful!” She said it like she saw her all the time or something. I held up Cedar and said, “This is our new baby, Cedar Harrell!” Again, like she has seen him a million times, she grabbed him up and held him in the air, talking about how precious he was.
I woke up before I was ready. I wanted to stay there in that place with my Meme a little longer; that place of my dreams behind the curtain. That curtain that separates our sometimes, dilapidated reality and the radiant, unearthly joy I saw there…that place where my Meme was truly bubbling over with confidence and peace and rest- walking around encouraging others.
The dream made me think a lot about my Meme and also a lot about myself. Childhood memories often hold a glorious glow that gets a bit more sparkly over time. And as fondly as we remember certain seasons of life as perfect and wonderful without any hint of a trial or any taste of disappointment, the reality of those childhood years I spent playing in the large den on Myrtle Street, was that someone was bearing the weight of life’s hardness so that I could be shielded from it.
Even in the dreamy place of a Thanksgiving spread, a trip to Disney World, a Christmas tree almost lost amidst all of the gifts. Even in the memories of jump rope contests with my Meme and Aunt skeet, trips in the pop-up camper and being pushed up into the clouds on the backyard swing…even in that seemingly perfect place- there, there were secrets and trials, loss and struggles, divorce and anger, all being battled and sorted through.
As the old lullaby says,
“Sleep is kind, when sleep is young.
Rain will fall, but baby won’t know.
She laughs alone in orchards of gold. Tears will fall, but baby won’t know…”
And one day, probably between the ages of of 25-35 but sometimes sooner, one awakens to the fact that life isn’t easy and sometimes bad things happen to good people. It’s there that it’s realized that difficult seasons come to everyone who breathes air. That’s hard. It’s hard, but its necessary.
As hard as it is, this knowing can be used for so much good if we allow it. Compassion and grace given are most breathtaking and impactful when they’re born out of pain.
For in the place where the carpet once looked new but now looks old and crusty, and in that place where the ceiling was once freshly painted and it now is stained and falling in- we are faced with the life-changing reality of a fallen world in desperate need of restoration.
When we find ourselves in a painful, dilapidated space, our Savior has a beautiful way of showing up. He has a wonderful way of showing us that He was the One who had actually been the shield all of those years and He will still be faithful when we feel pain that stings like 100,000 needles to our soul.
Ultimately, Jesus shows us that we are only passing through this crumbling place that’s in need of full restoration. He will one day peel back the curtain of every painful reality to reveal a place where there is no more pain or sorrow or fear. A place where our insecurities are erased in complete peace. It will be even better than the the place of our dreams.
Until then, even after knowing the hard things that real life can bring- we can see childlike faith rise up inside of us again if we lean into Jesus. These faith-filled eyes can see the reality of pain but only be moved to press into Him and trust Him all the more. That, or sadly we can be moved to forever circle the dilapidated room, commenting on its condition and desperate need for restoration without ever leaning into the Restorer.
It takes no genius to know the better option. Pressing in means tapping into a heavenly joy this side of the curtain of eternity. It means letting His Kingdom come inside of us, and through us, despite the state of our surroundings. It truly is our choice.