Up From The Deep

The wine flowed all too freely during and after dinner at Tim and Sandy’s. As if glass upon glass of cabernet-sauvignon washed away my interior dam of reticence, I opened up to my brother and sister-in-law, allowing my frustration and angst to flow freely from the reservoir of my deep hurt, complaining that my father Dennis had not talked to me as a 14 year-old about the terrifying power of becoming a man.

Having read and connected deeply with  Robert Bly’s classic book on becoming a man, “Iron John, A Book About Men,” I knew enough to be outraged at the lack of leadership my father gave me in negotiating the dark rapids of adolescent growth, but not enough to understand – at that time anyway – that he had no adolescent guidance himself, and, even worse, was given an example of manhood by an alcoholic father. Later, I came to understand that the culture we live in has long ago left initiation, rites of passage from boyhood to manhood, up to the kids, which of course, we do very badly.

Having drained away my disappointment and sorrow to my bewildered brother and his wife, we called it a night and I trudged my way upstairs to bed, a mattress laid on the floor of a second bedroom turned office by my writer-brother, Tim. Sleep came quickly, as it does when one is drunk with wine. But as also happens with too much alcohol, I woke up sometime in the dead of night having had a most lucid dream.  I was driving a car down a country road at night, two tire tracks rutted with red soil, leading off into darkness. From behind me came a large car, like a 1970′s Lincoln Continental or a Cadillac, wide, and heavy, riding the road like a barge on wheels, its headlights filling up the interior of my car. Smooth as silk, it pulled up beside me and hesitated. I looked over and saw what looked like the sparkling of sunlight on a million gentle waves on a lake. For just a moment, the car maintained perfect speed with mine, then, just as easily, pulled directly ahead of me, driving off into the distance. As I followed the car, its red tail lights dissolving off in front of me, I became giddy with excitement. “I’m driving to heaven! I’m on my way to heaven!” I knew intuitively. It was now dawn, the morning sunlight soft, the grass in fields green all about me, rich like the first growth of spring. Before me I could see a flat plateau, maybe 50 yards ahead, and a cliff high above a verdant valley of lush tropical trees, misted in the morning haze like an Amazon rain forest. I stopped the car, jumped out, and began running excitedly toward the precipice. But then the words, “Not yet,” sounded in my heart, slowing me down like a runner in fourth place. Knowing I could not leap into heaven yet, at the cliff’s edge I stood, basking in a sense of awe and wonder, looking down on the beauty of the valley, its perfection saving me from discouragement.

It must have been about 3:00 in the morning, when I woke. The room was dark, save for a thin beam of light, emanating from a lonely street light, cut a swath across my bed, the house as quiet and still as the night. Whether it was a lingering state of inebriation, or the preclude to the hangover that was to come, my sense of myself in my body was that of being like a pond going off into the distance, without beginning or end. My being floated in a grey nothingness, neither frightening nor enjoyable. As I lay there in this state of deep consciousness, a thought rose to the surface of my mind, like a bubble rising to the surface from the mud of some primordial bog, saying to me in the gentlest of voices: “Christ was in the car.” I was, despite my sense of spiritual quiet, astounded.

The revelation that Christ was in the car, the car that passed me, did not come from my own imagination, nor certainly from my own reasoning. It had bubbled up from the deep, from some mysterious source of knowing that I cannot, to this day, explain. But, what I can say is that the mystery of the dream, and of Christ present in it, was deeply consoling and encouraging, a light to calm me in the storms of my post-Zen life.

I woke up in the light of a Toronto morning, my head pounding.

Categories Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Posted on August 5, 2019

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