dreaming of peace

wow, has it really been two weeks since my last post? easter really can play tricks on one's ability to keep track of time!

i had a dream several months ago: my cousin ron, who died 3 1/2 years ago, and i enlisted in the army and were deployed to iraq. ron would have loved to serve in the military, but was unable to do so because of epilepsy. in the dream, he was all gung ho about going to war. the closer the plane got to the warzone, the queasier i became, finally yelling to be released from duty and given permission to return home to my ministry and my family. then one of those moments occurred when you realize you're really dreaming, and if you only wake up you'll be out of it. so i woke up, safe in the comfort of my own home.

a few nights ago i had a similar dream. this time i had signed up to be in the national guard. ron was not there, but my drill sergeant (if that's the role she really had-- who knows, it was a dream) was rev. katherine lyle, pastor of first united methodist church in desoto. katherine and i worked together on a walk to emmaus weekend several years ago, but she was no drill sergeant, so why she filled that job here i do not know. and why each of us in the troup were doubling as american idol contestants is also a mystery-- i'm one of the rare folk who've never seen the show. and no, i never got to sing!

what happened next was a sort of training simulator where "enemies" in other uniforms confronted me. i had a weapon, and they did not. i remember vaguely they were dressed as nazis. after becoming agitated, i shot them both, though my life was in no way threatened. and i did it with a very uncomfortable sense of excitement. as someone who has never fired a weapon more powerful than a bb gun, this was unusual, to say the least. and disturbing. and katherine was disappointed-- on moral grounds. i am a Christian and a pastor and i killed unarmed people?

this reality grasped me pretty hard, and i realized what i had done. i also understood where i was going and what i was getting myself into. and like the other dream, i wanted to go home. i wanted to turn around and get back to where everything made sense and i was safe. i asked her to send me home-- she said she'd think about it. then i discovered i was dreaming, and woke up in my own home.

i am no psychologist, and i certainly have no ability to interpret dreams, but i'll offer some possibilities as to what this business is all about:
1. guilt associated with living here, while something like 150,000 other americans are in harm's way, unable to control when they can come home.
2. the news that a brother of a parisioner, adam payne, deployed to iraq on holy thursday and arrived there on easter sunday. it's his first tour of duty over there and jeff asked us to pray for him and his unit. adam has been on my mind, and i don't even know him. his wife too.
3. i flirted with joining the military a few times, the navy before going to seminary (both grandfathers and my dad served in the navy), and even discussed being an army chaplain while i was in seminary at perkins. obviously nothing ever came from any of this.
4. recent news that some national guard folk will be called up for an unprecedented second tour of duty early next year, and that troup deployments will be changed to 15 months instead of the standard 12 months effective immediately.
5. the political mess over the war in washinton, after four years becoming more bitter every day.
6. my own moral objections to the war in iraq, which i believe was unnecessary, resulting in the loss of more than 3,000 americans and an estimated 150,000 iraqis, civilian and military.
7. my recent obsession with 24, which if nothing else illustrates the sacrifice folk who serve their country have to deal with, not to mention their families.

on the very first easter Jesus appeared to the disciples and said, "peace be with you." his gift of peace was what they needed before anything else. they were upset and distrubed by the events of the past 72 hours, plus hearing this confusing news from mary magdalene that she had seen Jesus alive. he offered them his peace, recalling the words he said to them before his death: "peace i leave with you, my peace i give you. i do not give to you as the world gives. do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" (john 14:27).

that is my prayer for all those who serve their country in dangerous places: that the peace of Christ will somehow intervene in their lives, and that they will realize that God is always with us. and i continue to pray for an end to this war and all war, so those who are in harm's way can return safely home, free to dream all kinds of strange dreams.


DogBlogger said…
Wow. A thought-provoking post, Frank. As one with a brother-in-law among those on standby to go back for a second tour, I have similar thoughts often (but thankfully, not similar dreams, at least so far).

Looking forward to catching up with you at Annual Conference.