Last night I dreamed about John.
John was long married to Julia, my father’s cousin, once removed. “Just a shirt-tail relative,” you might be thinking. But John and Julia happened to live in Goshen, Indiana, where I chose to attend college, three hours from where I grew up. In childhood, I’d scarcely known them. But after I enrolled in Goshen College, their house became my home away from home, and they became true family.
John was a buttoned-down type of guy who sold manufactured housing for a living. He always wore a suit (or at least a dress shirt and tie), even at home. He was a good, hard-working, church-going Republican, proud of his Dutch heritage; reserved and serious, but quick to smile. His kind heart was limited only by the smallness of his world. Outside the family circle, he preferred firm handshakes to hugs.
Whenever I’d drive back home to Ohio for a visit, John insisted I call him and Julia when I got there. (This was long before cell phones.) After three rings, I was to hang up. This signal would let them know I’d safely arrived without my parents incurring any long-distance charges. He was thoughtful that way. And frugal.
When John died of pancreatic cancer, some 20 years later, I lost my Goshen father.
* * *
Last night, in my dream, I opened the door of my house to find a FedEx delivery man waiting on the stoop. It was John, of all people, bathed in unearthly light. We were both shocked and elated at the sight of the other. We fell into a long, tight hug, rocking back and forth, our feet turning a tiny circle. Tears were running down our cheeks. It was a very un-John-like moment.
The pure joy of our reunion woke me up.
* * *
Reflecting on the dream now, I’m struck by how John, the FedEx delivery man, didn’t bring any parcels. Strange, isn’t it? He showed up with empty hands. He was the package, filled with radiant love.
And what’s the significance, if any, of “FedEx?” Try this: The Warehouse, if you will, had dispatched this “ex man” (i.e., spirit) to my house. And that “ex man’s” presence “fed” me, providing a real boost. Get it? “The FedEx man” equates to “The ex man fed.” Oh, how dreams will play on words!
And let us not forget that FedEx uniforms are purple. That’s the traditional color of royal power, and of the spiritual realm. Perfect for an “ex man” who embodies the power of love!
* * *
Julia, John’s widow, is 82. Yesterday afternoon, she let me know that she’s about to move into an assisted living community. It’s an ordeal, on many fronts.
I think that’s why this dream came last night. Not so much for me as for her. To comfort her during a time of stressful transition. To reassure her that, no matter where she moves, the Warehouse has her address, and Love will show up at her door.
I told Julia about the dream in an email, first thing this morning. Delivery made!
* * *
This dream also has a message for the rest of us. It reminds us that, while we may not be “ex human” quite yet, we can still make deliveries of love and unearthly light. In fact, the Warehouse has dispatched us to do just that.
But, first, every day we must choose to put on the purple uniform. We must climb again into the FedEx truck and head to wherever Dispatch sends us. We must own again the power we’ve been given.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we’ll honor as a nation on Monday, once said that power, properly understood, “is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about … change.”
Too often, this prophet said, we view love and power as polar opposites: “love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love.” The truth, he taught us, is quite different. Power needs love, lest it be reckless and abusive; love needs power, lest it be sentimental and weak.
“Power at its best is love.” That’s the heart of it, according to King. And, we might add, love at its best is power: power that feeds and changes the world.
* * *
“Now,” as King said, “we got to get this thing right.”
The sun’s up. It’s a new day. Let’s put on the purple!
Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash
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