A few nights ago I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am walking on a sidewalk in a busy part of the city. Beside me are closed storefronts. The windows have been smashed by vandals; the walls are scarred with gang graffiti; and every door is chained shut with a padlock. There is a lot of traffic, but no one stops here. They accelerate through the intersections as if just stopping for a red light might keep them in this bad neighborhood indefinitely, and that is the last thing that the men and women hidden behind their tinted Mercedes or Porsche windows want to imagine. It is a hot and clear summer day. I see everything around me with much greater clarity than normal.
I come up to a woman who is attending to an old, sun hardened derelict. He is propped up against the chained door of an abandoned storefront. Like most street people, he is muttering something only he is able to decipher. I imagine that this is the glossolalia of the street people, though I doubt the Holy Spirit has much to do with this strange gift of tongues. The woman seems to be an interpreter, for she is kneeling beside him, holding up the back of his head, and looking intently into his eyes. She nods and whispers back to him. I watch from several paces away. I am attracted to her, even though she is not all that beautiful. She is a middle aged woman just starting to slip into old age. I can see her agedness in the slight stoop in her shoulders. There is a pronounced white streak in her shoulder length, ink black hair. The contrast between the white streak and the rest of her hair is almost punk, and yet everything else about her appearance and demeanor calls to mind a nun or a schoolmarm. She is wearing a form fitted, gray, tweed jacket, a gray scarf wrapped tightly around her neck, and black trousers that flare just enough as to tell me that they have been hanging in her closet since the 1970s. She has on boots that are scuffed from long days walking these streets and attending to old derelicts like this one.
The woman stands up and turns to me. She smiles subtly, like it is dawning on her that we have met before. She urges me to step closer, and I do so with one eye still fastened on that derelict. She tells me that she has committed her life to Christ. The implication is that any interaction between us going forward is going to be more brotherly and sisterly than sexual. I nod, and I continue down the sidewalk without looking back at her, as she continues to attend to the poor and the outcast.
I step into the spacious living room of a penthouse suite. The hotel is an Art Deco gem, and it is draped and furnished like a space set aside for the hot and the bothered in the 1920s. There is a lot of half eaten food and opened bottles of champagne spread about the living room, but all of the party guests except for one have left the hotel already – no doubt they are all now milling about the pianist at the Polo Lounge, while trying to figure out where and when the next big party will commence. The one remaining party guest is Jimmy Kimmel. She is dressed in a soft blue jacket and pink bowtie. He has on his face his trademark wide, devilish grin. He gestures for me to follow him into the bedroom at once. He continually looks back at me with that wide grin of his, but the eyes tell me that he is concerned about something. He wants to make sure that I stay close behind him.
The bedroom is dark save for the dim light from an old, cracked, Victorian lamp. A thick curtain keeps out any sunlight. My wife is on an oversized canopy bed almost drowning in fluffy pillows and satin sheets. Indeed, all I can see of her is her face poking out from between two pillows. Jimmy Kimmel pulls aside many layers of sheets and pillows, and he walks on his knees across the large mattress toward her back. He is checking for any bedsores, since my wife has been bedridden for a long time. My wife is angry more than sad or exhausted at the moment. She wants to know where I have been and why I was not there to clear out the party in the other room long before.
I am clutching a long rope hanging down from heaven. I have no idea how far down the fall would be if I were to let go, but I sense that I would be falling forever. Below my feet the rope extends into a white cloud. I cannot see what is below that cloud. Above me is a vast expanse of dark, thunderous, storm clouds. I also cannot see what may be above those clouds, if anything. All I know is that the same rope also extends into those storm clouds, and if I were to climb a few more feet up I would be completely immersed inside that dark space. I would much prefer to climb downward into that white cloud, but I am fearful that I shall lose my grip and fall if I try to descend. For some reason, I sense that I am much more adept at climbing upward, and yet up there is a kind of hell that really frightens me. I imagine a pair of dark, menacing, birdlike eyes waiting patiently for me up in that storm. The eyes are sentient, malevolent, patient. I could stay where I am on that rope for aeons, and the eyes up above would continue to wait for me. Those awful eyes know that at some point I am going to have to climb up into the storm, for I cannot remain where I am indefinitely without losing my grip. The man who treads water in fact is slowly, almost imperceptibly, sinking, and the same is true of the man who just stays where he is on a rope. In time, he will have to continue his climb, or he will lose his grip and fall to the bottom. I hold on tightly, and look up into the darkness, and then I resume climbing up the rope. I can taste the first hints of dark rain as I approach that hell storm.