Dream of:20 August 1996 "A Church In The Basement"
accept your role in life
be happy to play your part
join hands in worship
My wife Carolina and I were living in the House in South Shore, Kentucky (across the Ohio River from Portsmouth, a four room cottage where I lived for about a year when I was in the fifth and sixth grade in 1963). We had not been living in the House long, and were in the process of doing extensive renovations. The House (a small cottage with only four small rooms and a bath) was cluttered with lumber and work tools being used for the renovation. I was doing some work myself, but was hiring professionals to do most. At the moment I was looking at the ceiling of the hallway. There was an obvious leak which had stained the white paint on the ceiling and walls. I was debating whether I should climb up onto the roof myself to see what the problem was, or whether I should hire someone to do it.
As I was working on the House, I became aware of an event just about to start not far from the House. I had been aware that a federal district court was only about two blocks from the House. I had never been to the courthouse, but I had thought I would like to visit it, especially since I had heard it contained a pleasing library open to the public. I had even thought the nearby courthouse with its library would prove to be one of the most important advantages of moving to South Shore. Now was my chance to visit the courthouse.
I had been invited to a party which was supposed to take place in the courthouse. The party was a cultural event and people, especially people involved with the law, would be arriving from all over the country. The event itself, however, did not appear to be about the law, but about different cultures. I had heard a long list of different cultures which would be involved, and the one that had stuck out in my mind was something called "Celtebric," which I thought had to do with the Celts. I found this particularly interesting because I thought a woman I had known many years ago at The Ohio State University (when she had been a student there) would be at the event at the courthouse, because she was an expert in Celtic culture. I also thought she liked to go to these events because she liked to drink alcohol, and the only time she allowed herself to drink was at these events. I thought some interesting beverages would be offered at the event, but I was uncertain I would drink anything if I went. At any rate, if I went, seeing the woman again after so many years would be a pleasure.
Still, I was somewhat hesitant to go to the courthouse. The party was just about to start, and I was really not dressed for it. Nevertheless, I felt as if I should go, especially since I lived so close, and other people had come from so far away. Thinking of the other people, I wondered where so many people would stay since not many hotels were in South Shore. Perhaps I could accommodate some of the people in my House. They could just sleep on the floor.
I knew the House was quite a simple and humble affair, and I thought anyone who came there might view it disdainfully. If that happened, I would have to explain more fully my reasons for having moved there. I would explain that if I had not moved in, the House would have been torn down, and I did not want to see that happen, because this was the House where my father had been born. Then, however, I stopped and thought about that, and I realized that my supposition was not completely correct. Although my father had lived in the House when he had been a boy, he had actually been born somewhere else; in Kentucky to be sure, but farther back in the hills, up some out-of-the-way hollow. It was only later that his parents and he had moved into the House. Then I thought how, subsequently, the history of the House continued for many years until my grandmother Mabel and my step-grandfather Clarence eventually sold the House to my father, and my family had moved into the house and lived there for a year when I had been a child. At any rate, I had a long history of ties to this particular House, and I had not wanted it to be torn down. Besides that, if anyone looked down on me for living in such a modest house, I could point to my bank statement, to prove how well off I was, and how the move to the House had proven to be economically wise.
I went to the federal courthouse and watched people mingle around me. The first thing I noticed – in the room next to mine – was the spacious library with its walls lined with books. I was looking through a large door into the library and was imagining how I was going to enjoy coming there.
Two men were standing beside a table in the library. One man (an elderly judge) was talking to the second man about a cardboard box filled with books which was sitting on the table beside them. From their conversation I gathered that the books were either going to be sold or given away. The judge pulled one book out of the box and held it in his hand. The book was a small avocado green book which I recognized immediately as one of an extensive set of books which contained all the Greek classics, with the Greek written on one page and the English translation on the opposite page. It had been a long time since I had looked at any of those books, and I thought that I might like to have them. The judge made a statement about how few people read those kind of books anymore, and then he put the book back in the box. When the two men then turned their attention away from the box, I walked into the library and glanced into the box. In addition to the green books, I saw several volumes of an encyclopedia in the box. Once I had satisfied my curiosity, I realized I was not interested in the books; I already had far more books than I needed and I did not need to be carrying a bunch more books home.
I walked back to the room I had first been in, and continued walking around. Something about the place reminded me of a school, and indeed I thought I saw someone with whom I had attended school in the fourth grade at Centerville Elementary School in Gallia County, Ohio, (the school I had attended for a year before my family had moved to South Shore). This fellow was now grown, and I tried to remember his name – I thought it was "Rusty." I thought of walking up to him and asking if he recognized me, but after having not spoken with him for so many years, it seemed that speaking to him now would be out of place. So I just walked on.
I also noticed some children sitting at desks – more signs that part of the courthouse was used as a school. I wondered what the children thought about the activities going on with the cultural event. I also wondered what the children thought about me. In a way, I thought I was a sort of model for the children to emulate. I was not the typical person whom the children would see here in the courthouse. I was more of the rebel type. Indeed, I fairly swaggered along, my chest stuck out, impressed with my own aplomb. The white shirt I was wearing spoke volumes itself. It seemed to have frills along the long collars, and most importantly, the top two buttons were undone, unlike all the shirts of all the other men in the courthouse, which of course would all be neatly buttoned up to the neck. Strutting along among the children, I fancied myself somewhat of a pirate.
Suddenly standing in front of me I saw someone I knew: Donna (a woman whom I first met in 1981 when we began law school together). She looked just as pretty as she had when we had been friends in law school. I hurried over to her and greeted her. She turned, took one look at me, and blurted out, "Yuk!"
My self-image was immediately shattered. I suddenly saw how ridiculous I looked prancing around in my unbuttoned shirt. I anxiously asked her if she thought I should button up. She looked at me with contempt, as if the question were hardly worth the answer. I now noticed just how elegantly dressed she was, as was everyone there. I was the only one who looked like a moron. Donna, obviously not wanting to be seen talking with me, turned and quickly walked away. I also hurried off, hoping I could find some place private where I could button up my shirt and try to present a more acceptable appearance.
I hurried down some stairs to the basement. When I reached the bottom, I opened a door, and was surprised to find myself standing in a church, right there in the basement. What was even more surprising was that some kind of church service was taking place and the pews were filled. I was standing on the side, so the preacher, dressed in luxuriant robes, was standing at the pulpit off to my right. I immediately walked over to one pew, sat down, and disconcertedly began listening to the sermon.
A couple things struck me. First, the people in the pews were obviously of a much poorer working class than the people who had gathered upstairs for the cultural event. Many here were black; indeed a number of older black women in their clean simple dresses were dispersed among the congregation. Everyone seemed polite, simple, and sincere.
The other thing which struck me was the subject of the sermon. It did not take long until I realized the subject was my grandmother Mabel and her second husband, my step-grandfather Clarence. Clarence had only died a few years before, and my grandmother was old and near death herself. The purpose of the sermon, however, was unclear. The only thing I could say for sure was that the preacher was highly praising both my grandmother and Clarence.
As I watched, I tried to think of what word I would use to describe the sermon, and immediately the word "unctuous" came to me. I thought to myself that this was a word which I had rarely if ever used, but that the word seemed just perfect to describe how the preacher was speaking. I thought the word came from a Latin word for "oil" and that the sense of the word was to flatter or praise someone to such an extent that it would be like pouring oil over someone and leaving a film on them. This idea of oily praise being poured out by the preacher seemed perfect. This was one of those forgotten words which I wanted to incorporate into my vocabulary.
Suddenly the sermon ended. The preacher did not hide his eagerness to get out of the basement and go upstairs to where the party was taking place. As he walked toward the door, he made a comment about "Shakespearean marriages." It was clear to me that what he meant was that many people who met at these cultural events fell in love and later married. Thus their marriages, because they had been commenced in the ambiance of culture, could be called Shakespearean marriages.
I also rose and followed the hurrying minister toward the door. Perhaps it was the gold robe he was wearing, perhaps something else which suddenly reminded me of the true reason why I had come to this place. I had known that it was common that at an event such as this, gold coins would be given out. But they weren't ordinary gold coins. On the coins were stamped religious symbols, or perhaps the faces of religious people. I coveted these coins and was anxious to obtain one. I was especially interested in the seeming paradox of having a religious symbol on a coin of gold. To me the two ideas seemed so opposite that I relished the thought of seeing the two contradictory ideas forged together. I hurried along, anxious to find where I could pick up one of the coins.
Commentary of February 9, 2016
Just as people attend church to find spiritual meaning, so too do some people seek spiritual meaning on the Dream Journal. Some members of churches think that attending church brings one closer to God, just as some on the Dream Journal think that publishing dreams brings one closer to God.
Dreams may be the actual voice of God for those who can hear.
This dream reminds me of a couple dreams which I recently read on the Dream Journal. One contained a minister and one contained a priest and I found myself thinking that those dreamer journalists might be reading my dreams and dreaming about me since I probably come off as some kind of minister by posting such a long series of "church dreams."
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