Photo by geralt via Pixabay
by Maria Isabel Pita © 2018
“We can do nothing better than abandon ourselves to God.” i
Saint Theresa of Avila called the Christian mystical practice of Contemplation the Prayer of Quiet. If you feel you are called to learn more about it, I wholeheartedly recommend The Cloud of Unknowing, With the Book of Privy Counsel by Anonymous, A New Translation by Carmen Acevedo Butcher. Also essential, in my opinion, is Practicing the Presence of God and the Spiritual Maxims by Brother Lawrence.
Both books together have proved the ideal combination for me. In fact, it was when these two works came into my life (in that mysterious way books do that makes them feel like gifts from the Holy Spirit) that I finally understood what Saint Theresa was talking about, and was able to more fully comprehend some recent lucid dreams.
Lucid Dream of December 1, 2016—The White General
I find myself walking down a dark sidewalk at night, past a large house on my left, around which grow tall and dense but neatly landscaped bushes and trees. I notice this because abruptly heading straight toward me is a group of people angrily protesting something. Instantly, I know I can’t let them see me, so I turn left, and enter the grounds of the house. I become semi-lucid as I glance over my shoulder and realize my dog, Arthur (who has been followed me around in dreams half the night!), has lain down at the base of a narrow tree, apparently exhausted.
I call to him, urging him to get up, because I detect what looks like a shortcut to our house that brings back memories of childhood. Arthur gets to his feet reluctantly, and moving closer to him, I pick him up while the angry group passes by on the sidewalk without noticing me, thank God! I still want to get away from them, but when I turn around, instead of darkly merging lawns there is a steep overgrown hill. What? Oh… Okay… Pleased to be lucid, I say in my mind Thank you for the hill as I look around me.
Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay
It remains night, but abruptly I’m no longer in a residential neighborhood. I’m standing in a large flat open space, and the ground feels solid. I look down and see not grass but a smooth white surface. My impression of having been transported to some sort of official Base is reinforced by the chalk-white man now standing directly in front of me. His skin and his hair, and his short sleeved official looking shirt, are all entirely white. I can see him clearly, which makes the fact that he’s as white as a ghost rather odd. I’m aware of a handful of other figures milling around wearing similar “uniforms.”
Stepping even closer to him, I ask, “Who are you?” and in response, he extends one of his hands toward my heart. Is he telling me he’s inside my heart? I can’t be sure. It makes sense, but I don’t know. I then ask him, “May I touch you?” feeling it might help root me in the dream. Then sensing from his expression and everything else about him that he won’t object, I reach out and touch his left check with the fingertips of my right hand.
He feels like a real person. I ask him more questions, and even ask him to help me not wake up. He has the aura of a “General” yet he appears relaxed and his smile is friendly, so that I feel I can ask him as many questions as I want to.
As I talk to him, I jump up and down and glance around me, feeling the need to keep moving in order not to wake up. But since it appears to be a one-sided conversation, I eventually turn away from him. As I walk along the edge of a low wall, it crosses my mind to ask him if it really helps to pray in a dream. But that’s a stupid question, because I know that of course it helps. Following me, the “General” informs me, “What you need is a bolt of lightning.” In that same moment, a woman walks briskly past me as she says, “You’re empty now, and only that bolt of lightning can refill you.” I don’t exactly understand, but I feel they might both be referring to God, and to being filled by Divine grace. Yet there’s nothing I myself can do to make that happen, is there? I also sense it’s probably a good thing I’m an empty vessel now, because this puts me in the position to be filled up from above.
Looking around me, I cry out, “Oh my God, what happened to the hill?” For some reason, I feel dismayed by the sight of a vast open space which only ends far, far away in a chain of tall and gently undulating mountains hundreds of miles below us. The stunningly distant peaks are a hazy blend of pale dark-blues, grays and offwhite hues. I don’t feel the dream is stable enough for me to fly such a great distance, so I’m essentially grounded here in this place located above even the highest mountains as all the world below is obscured by a dark cloud. And I don’t see any stars in the sky, which feels very close, almost as if we’re at the very edge of the atmosphere.
Moving quickly counterclockwise around the perimeter of the place, I jump up onto a smooth edge of “concrete” which forms a lip around a circular black “hatch” at my feet, just big enough for one person, and around which the “base” containing this “ship” is built. It appears to be inactive, but I sense it is invisibly initiating something almost unimaginably powerful and life changing… I wake.
In my dream, I had been wondering if praying in a dream was effective when the White General told me what I needed was a lightning bolt. John Piper writes, “Prayer is the splicing of our limp wire to the lightning bolt of heaven.” I had never heard of John Piper, and did not realize—until after my dream prompted the search— how often Jesus’ appearance, and that of His angels, is compared to lightning. For example:
Luke 9:28-29—About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Matthew 28:3—His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
Luke 24:4—While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
Not only were the clothes of the “General” in my dream white as snow, so was his skin and his hair. I think of Christians as akin to soldiers spiritually fighting for the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, which may be why I got the impression of being on a military base.
A vessel must be empty to be filled, but such emptiness is an openness, a receptivity that is in keeping with its nature as a vessel that invites filling—the fulfillment of what it was created for. As often happens, it is only years later that I can understand this lucid dream. I believe it was letting me know that I would be called to Contemplation. My dream body was literally in contemplative space—the Cloud of Unknowing above me and the Cloud of Forgetting below me:
“Nobody’s mind is powerful enough to grasp Who God is. We can only know Him by experiencing His love… To the cloud of unknowing between you and God, add the cloud of forgetting beneath you, between you and creation… Look up joyfully, and say to your Lord out loud, ‘I offer myself to you, Lord, for you are my essence.’ Then rest your mind…Your naked blind being is your God and your goal.” ii
I now see how the “ship” around which the “base” was built is this form of prayer, and how it helps heal and transform us.
Lucid & Semi-Lucid Dreams of April 18, 2018
I slept well and deeply and was lucid at least once for a long time, during which I led people—specifically a young woman who stuck close to me—out of the confines of the place we were in. This involved lots of windows we had to get through, and I showed her how, since this was a dream, they weren’t solid barriers, but that we could pass through them as if they were only air. Perhaps because she was with me, the windows resisted more than they should have, but I simply removed them and we kept moving.
The final dream of the night is the gem:
I’m driving on a broad highway, following not too far behind Sean (a lucid dreaming friend) but not too closely. I know he’s not aware of me driving along behind him. We’re heading in the same direction, or so I hope; I can’t be completely sure. Then, as a soft golden light manifests inside his car, I hear Him declare, “There’s Jesus! That’s Jesus!” He has spotted Jesus somewhere on the street to our left. I look in that direction, and there is the Lord! He’s a young man in the prime of life, with short and straight dark-brown hair, and he’s dressed in white clothes that evoke an ancient tunic but are also a cleanly cut white shirt and pants. I know He is deliberately showing himself to Sean as He keeps his eyes fixed on my friend’s car as it passes Him and, veering gently to the right, drives away.
Extending his right arm toward me, Jesus steps off the sidewalk onto the street just as I stretch one arm longingly out toward him. As we reach for each other, His expression mirrors my own love and longing. But for some reason, I think I can’t get out of the car here. These moments of seeing Him, of expressing our desire to be together, seems wonderful enough.
Before I lose sight of Jesus, I clearly see Him take a position in the center of a busy intersection. He’s looking down at something in his hands made of intersecting rows of fine golden-brown lines forming a grid pattern. He is focused on these “strings” while swiftly touch-strumming them, and as people walk all around Him without seeing Him, I feel I know what He’s doing—He is “programming” circumstances, events, experiences, etc. in order to bring as many souls as possible with Him into the Kingdom of God. I distinctly feel the love and determination He is constantly exercising and dedicated to bringing as many souls as possible into His saving embrace.
As I drove toward Him, Jesus reached out to me from a bend in the road even as I reached out to Him. But I didn’t stop, instead I just kept driving after Sean. I took it for granted that I couldn’t stop the car and get out to be with my Lord. But in my heart, I know now that He wasn’t merely waving at me—He was hailing me, urging me to stop thinking too much about Sean and dream sharing, and to put Him, God, above everything and everyone else. For there is a way I can be with Him before my soul “gets out” of its physical vehicle.
At the end of my dream, I saw Jesus holding an instrument in His hands He was silently and intently “playing.” I looked up images online, and essentially recognized a miniature version of an ancient zither, which made me think of what a voice said to me in a dream years ago, “Her soul is a song on the wind.” I believe this “instrument” my Lord showed me is a form of prayer, and that He is calling me to it. And just yesterday, I came upon this paragraph in the book I’m reading by Saint Hildegard:
“Heaven’s my home, and God’s love is my desire. I will seek to yearn for my Creator above all things. My greatest wish is to do what You ask me, God. Give me wings of determination and kindness, so I can soar above the stars of heaven, doing Your good will. You and Your holiness are all I need. Make me Your zither of love!” iii
Lucid Dream of June 8, 2018
Sitting below the space where I was just dreaming—at the back of the entrance hall of a building with a white staircase to my left—I decide to try and re-enter the dream. Fully lucid, I run up the steps and into the room, but the people I was with are all gone, replaced by figures in bright-red hooded robes. I remember fleeing from them earlier in the night, and race out of there. But as I’m jumping down into the lobby from the white balcony, the robe I’m wearing—which also seems to be red now—gets caught on something. I make the effort to pull myself free and, landing naked on my feet, run outside.
It’s night out, and I promptly launch myself up into the starry sky. It is a stunningly beautiful sky brimming with large white stars all evenly distributed. There are no clusters of stars, and the individual circles of silverywhite light shine in a universe that is not completely black but slightly bronze in hue. The peaceful yet vibrantly living splendor of this dream sky is just WOW!
I’m ascending with my arms raised over my head, yet I also notice that I use my legs once or twice as if I’m swimming up. Directly above me and slightly to my right, I feel and see a movement in this splendorous sky I perceive as a flock of geese passing overhead. I didn’t see them right away because they are also bright silvery- gold circles—a flying constellation! I never knew geese could fly so high! I recall how the ancient Egyptians referred to Pharaoh’s children as the “eggs of the Goose” the “Great Cackler” who laid the egg of Creation— a metaphor for God, Who alone existed before everything He created.
I don’t actually need to act like Superman to fly, so I lower my arms and, simply willing myself higher, I discern other smaller constellation-flocks. The sky is just so absolutely glorious! It feels more alive than any other starry night sky I have ever seen. There is no sound, and yet the silence itself feels alive; is inseparable from the awe-inspiring quality of the universe. Attempting to rise up to the level of the birds in this mysteriously dynamic dream firmament, I sense that no matter how high I fly, I will always be seeing this same sky, for even though I’m dreaming, I’m still confined to my physical body.
“Silence is so powerful a language that it reaches the throne of the living God. Silence is His language, though secret, yet living and powerful.”—Saint Maria Faustina
“In your will, you’ll feel a simple reaching out to God… Make your home in this darkness, stay there as long as you can, crying out to him over and over again because you love Him. It’s the closest you can get to God here on earth, by waiting in this cloud.” iv
Excerpt from Dreaming with the Lord — A Christian Key to Understanding Dreams by Maria Isabel Pita
i From Practicing the Presence of God and the Spiritual Maxims (Brother Lawrence)
ii From The Cloud of Unknowing With the Book of Privy Counsel by Anonymous, a New Translation by Carmen Acevedo Butcher
iii Hildegard of Bingen: A Spiritual Reader (Butcher, Carmen Acevedo)
iv From The Cloud of Unknowing With the Book of Privy Counsel by Anonymous, a New Translation by Carmen Acevedo Butcher