The Process of Discernment

About a year or two ago, I had this idea, this burning vision, that I was trying to understand. It mobilized me so much that I wrote people, met with organizations and even pursued a grant. But then I had this sense of not now, not yet. Today I remembered that vision and asked myself, “Had I just misunderstood it?”

You see, this vision was this big room, and each Cincinnati neighborhood was represented by the a 8′ tower that looked like a building. There’s 52 neighborhoods in the city, and there were 52 pillars in this vision, laid out in a grid pattern, so as you walked through it, almost as if you were walking the a city.

Each tower had the name of the neighborhood and a couple infographs telling the story of racial and economic disparity through the decades. On the other side of the towers (in the “windows”) were pictures of people from the neighborhood as well as the places they took pride in or that served as the heart of their community. Lastly, there’d be some kind of audio that would share people’s stories, but only if you were close to their “neighborhood.”

On the other side of this installation, we’d have a video sharing a few stories of what it’s like to be in Cincinnati and some of the big obstacles we are facing.

So, that was the vision. Today I suddenly recalled that vision and thought about where God has put me, in a role where it is possible for me to potentially engage with people across the city, possibly from every neighborhood. And as I work through the classes I’m in right now and ask myself what this vision meant, I’m beginning to wonder if the dream wasn’t some massive project for me to create, but instead it was a visual expression for what my path would look like. This vision was meant to be a means of education: to reveal the HUMANITY that exists in every single neighborhood (give them faces), to recognize our successes while also opening our eyes to places of total failure. To stir hearts to become reconcilers in this city (not necessarily the same as peacemakers).

I really don’t know yet but I do feel as if I’ve gained some kind of understanding around all of this. It’s as if a fog is lifting and I can discern shapes and movement but none of the details.

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More Dreams

I had another dream centered around journeys. This time, my dream began at the intended destination. There were thousands and thousands of people in this big room, and there were people on stage singing and lecturing. It was odd because it was a celebration of some kind but there was also danger.

Some of my friends were there, including my roommate and a male friend of mine. We were towards the back and suddenly people were talking about a darkness sweeping across the land and people dying instantly. We all needed to get in position, laying flat on the floor with your palms down.  The children, and there were so many, were closest to the platform in front. I understood that they had more power.

If you were injured or had some type of ailment, you had to conceal it from the darkness by covering it with another’s body, so people were sharing their issues and others used themselves as protection. I needed my kidney protected for some reason. The darkness passed over us and nobody was taken. There was a huge celebration that lasted all night, with prayer and worship, but I didn’t know the language.

The next day was the day we were supposed to head home. All my stuff was ready at the hotel but I couldn’t locate my rental car so I caught a ride to the center with my friends. Right after we got there, again we heard the darkness was coming. People weren’t taking it as seriously, perhaps because there hadn’t been any losses last time. As we were preparing, I realized I didn’t have kidney issues anymore. I felt a sudden, strong desire to walk away from my friends and speak to the children. I didn’t say anything, I just walked away from my friends towards the edge of the children and was drawn towards this boy and girl.

The girl looked like a child, but as I got closer she also seemed older than her years, full of wisdom. The boy didn’t talk to me but he taught me these symbols that were also gestures. She explained some of the symbols they were making with their hands with some words I didn’t understand and some I recognized to be the same as animals (for example, I knew one meant elephant). She said the symbols had to keep changing and there was a deep well of sadness in her eyes. She didn’t explain, but I think it meant when we lost the animal in our world, perhaps we lost their power. Soon the children were all moving in unison and I tried to participate. Close to them, it was so different. It felt like prayer, song, feeling and light all coming from these words that I didn’t know but could understand tiny pieces of: specifically the animal names.

Suddenly it was much later, after the danger had passed. I was trying to locate my friends but couldn’t. It was like everyone had taken a pilgrimage to this site and now everyone was trying to get home too. I ended up stopping as I passed by a Donatos where they had community tables. I sat with strangers and reassured them I would only be there for 10 minutes to eat my salad I brought in with me. During that time I saw a friend who then offered to get me back to the hotel. My roommate was unable to be located or reached so I thought this was my best chance. However, we could never locate the vehicle we needed to leave. I also began to get this overwhelming sense that the children around us weren’t children: we were. I woke up after spending what felt like hours trying to get back to my hotel and find the people I had come with.

For a Friend

I was nearly asleep, maybe I actually had been, when I awoke with an understanding. I tried to brush it off and go back to sleep but there was an insistent nudging so finally I began typing in the notes section of my iPhone.

Over a lifetime, the vast amount of a warriors time is not spent fighting. They train, equip, rest and await direction from their King, responding in obedience. And a warrior for God? He also seeks the Lord.

I had some imagery associated with it so I searched the Bible and found Judges 20, which I read and then wrote:

In Judges 20, the Israelites lost so many people! Yet it was not until the whole army knelt before God in fasting and prayer that God gave them victory! Judges 20:26-28 says: “Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. And the Israelites inquired of the Lord… They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?” The Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”

A friend of mine had mentioned via text that he had written, “I am God’s warrior,” and I felt like this was for him. So the next morning, despite my nervousness at sending something totally unsolicited to him, I forwarded my note from the night on.

Dreams

OMINOUS ROAD TRIP

I dreamt I was back with my ex. He was being funny, kind and thoughtful! He kept reminding me to not forget it was only for our road trip.

With that, we were in this convertible/jeep type vehicle rolling down the highway. A bunch of our guy friends were there with us and we were having the best time crossing the country. Shenanigans at gas stations, stops at arcades, singing at the top of our lungs to classic rock. But in the midst of the joy and laughter, suddenly everything would get quiet and he’d lean in with a serious face and quietly whisper, “Don’t forget, it’s just for this journey.” And then the noise would return, he’d be smiling at me and it was like nobody saw.

As we drew close to the other coast, I began to get anxious. What exactly was ending with this journey?

DARK CAMP

I had a dream I was at this huge camp-like place, except it was in a massive and ornate building surrounded by nature. It was somewhere every person had to go at some point in their lives. I had some friends there but they weren’t acting like friends and I couldn’t understand why.

Dark things lurked all over the place, attacking people, but they didn’t seem to realize it. It even took a couple lives and people mistook them as accidents. The greatest amount of evil was in the large lake, and everyone had to go in and go under the water at some point.

I was in the bathroom with my roommate when the administrator found me and told me I had to go in. That they had ways of dealing with people like me. She pulled out a swimsuit and told me to put in on. I fought. Then my sister arrived, utterly pale, dripping with water. “What’s your problem?” She continued in a monotone voice, “I went in and I’m here. Put the swimsuit on. You have to.”

I was terrified at how altered my sister was and outraged at the same time. “I’m not afraid, I am aware! This is unbelievable! Why do you do this? I don’t seek approval from anyone here! My identity doesn’t come out of this place or whether or not I get in a damn lake.”

An entire group of girls and women filed into the bathroom at that point, dripping on the floor. I could see the light in them was gone. They dripped with this dislike of the “other.” What I had become. An outsider. My sister stood with them. And so I ran.