She visited me again in a dream. It was before I knew exactly when I would be able to travel to Thailand and begin working with the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT).
I knew my departure date would be soon, but I hadn’t received my visa from the Royal Thai Consulate General in Chicago. Also, I wasn’t sure if the necessary financial support had come through (from you—my friends, colleagues, and workers together in God’s field).
I was still in divestment mode: how many more things could I give/throw away? How much could I really take to Thailand, with the airlines charging $150 U.S. for every suitcase beyond the first two and a charge of $80 U.S. for a small box sent by mail? Could I really expect to bring the seven boxes of books I’d set aside? Or even one? And was this another spiritual lesson for me—how to let go of things, for God’s sake? (Okay, that was not an epithet just now; it was a serious question.)
I’d already tallied up the possible tax deductions for everything I’d given away to Goodwill or other ministries and it was a lot. It looked as though I wouldn’t have to tithe for the next year and a half. And no, that was not WHY I was giving things away. At least, I hope not.
Here’s a truth about people like me who have grown up in another country, or people who, as children, have moved around the world a few times. We take one of two paths with our belongings. Either we keep very little and travel light, or we try to hold onto everything. We do that with friends, too.
While such a life is filled with such rich experiences, it also contains its share of grief when you must let any of those experiences pass away. It’s at those times she visits me. My mom. It doesn’t happen that often. Only at times of transition, I guess.
So, this time, in this dream, we were at our old house in St. Paul, Minnesota, and she was looking great—healthy, in the prime of life, vibrant, energetic—at her best. She was getting ready to decorate for Christmas and sorting ornaments. And just like the old days, my mom was planning a big gathering in the back yard. A big group of friends from church would be having a party.
I was torn. I had so much work to do. I had records to keep, letters to write, accounts to organize. So I compromised. I dragged a desk into the back yard and set up my laptop, with all my important documents next to it, so that I could work and visit at the same time (it’s the sort of thing pastors do, anyway).
Somehow, when the party was over, I forgot to put anything away. That happens a lot in dreams. So, the next morning in a panic, I rushed out to the back yard. Everything was gone but the desk. I hurried back into the house on red alert, lamenting that all of my documents and records, and my laptop, were gone.
My mother just looked up from her Christmas decorations and smiled. “That’s nice,” she said, and went back to work. Then, I was sure I’d misplaced my key to the house. Now, that was something completely different. That got her attention. “Don’t ever lose your key to the house!” she said. But then I found it in my pocket. What a relief! We rejoiced together.
So, what did this dream mean? Sometimes my mom comes to me as the voice of God. This time she was telling me that nothing matters except the key to your own being; your own heart. Not every sermon I’ve ever preached—every one of which is contained in my laptop. Not all those nice tax deductions from Goodwill and the “Help a Mind Thrive Keep a Book” bookstore in Des Moines. Or other charities. Not even the boxes of theological books I was hoping to ship to Thailand. Just like the other times she has visited me, she was busy about the work of rejoicing in God. Decorating for Christmas was an example of that.
Any leap of faith can have worry and anxiety tagging along with it. At least, that’s frequently my experience. My mother’s experience was similar to mine. But now that she’s no longer in this world, she’s become for me a mainstay of serenity and joy.
And the key to my own being? It’s that I’m a child of God, walking and occasionally leaping on this journey of trust. It’s probably your own key, too.
Anne Gregory serves as an Ecumenical Officer with the Church of Christ in Thailand. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples' Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.