Seven years ago I had a startling dream that I woke up from and have never forgotten.
I would not presume to bore you with the first 5/6th of the dream for those details are only relevant to me and what delivered me to these moments in less than a dainty fashion (as the dream indicated they would…there was, ahem…gunfire and a lot of running).
But towards the end, I spilled into this old lighthouse on the rocky shoals of the Pacific and it was deserted with some overturned pews and a large fireplace. Some of the pews were broken into pieces and I used the wood to build a fire in the large stone hearth inset in the long sloping plaster wall. It was darkening outside and there was menace in the foothills both now and in the days to come. But it was temporary safe inside.
The fire grew, illuminating the large empty room, and it began to take the chill out of the air. I could see there were wooden cabinets now along the walls with small locks. I tried one for the heck of it and it simply opened. Inside, I found long glass prayer candles and a large box of strike-easy matches. That was helpful as my lghter was of no real use with the long glass candles.
I lighted one, slipped three into my bag, and headed to the spiral stairs. Then I paused – went back to the cabinet and carefully took out three candles each – nine in all – and lighted them around the rest of the perimeter wall. Only then did I ascend the steel staircase carefully holding a single glass candle.
I had no real idea what I was doing or why. It was a dream and I knew it was a dream – yet the menace and danger felt very real. I had felt those bullets whiz over my head as I ran and when I had hit the sand and lay low I had felt the earth shudder near me as it sheathed the leadened death. Someone did not want me to reach the lighthouse, but I had against considerable odds.
At the top, I found the clam-shaped encasement and undid the glass housing. I took out the three candles I had bagged and lighted all three and placed them in the carousel and secured the clasp. Then I took my candle and looked for a switch. That was easy enough – could have found it in the dark. I supposed that was on purpose.
Near-silently, the whole housing began to revolve – concentrating the three tiny flickers from the glass candles into a remarkably (it seemed to me) strong beam of light. I mean, it could not have alerted any ship of course – but any person within a mile or two might see a small glimmer for a second or so – and then again and again as it revolved.
How did I know I would not be followed in? I just knew. I also knew – perhaps it was the pews that gave it away – that this represented the Church. It was Holy Ground even if it had been abandoned and the pews over-turned.
Suddenly I was back downstairs, sitting in a pew by the fire. I took my pipe out of my bag and lighted it. The fire felt good. I prayed, then laid-out on the hard pew to sleep.
In my dream I actually remembered the words of T.S. Eliot:
The Church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells upturned, what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards?