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Do you have sweet dreams? Me, not so much, in fact, my wee-hour dreams almost invariably tend towards the upper limits of frustration and occasionally fear. Last night’s followed suit – until it didn’t.

Penn Station, BaltimoreLocation: a train station waiting room, my mind registered Penn Station, the one in Baltimore where I used to reside. I peeked out from a seemingly empty, dimly lighted, railroad-car-like, clothes closet and saw my grown son standing next to luggage. Was that his luggage and some else’s? Was he waiting for my daughter his older sister or friends, some of the other “daughters and sons” I had known, or someone I had never met? Was I going to see them, too? I glanced down and saw a ticket in my hand. When I looked up, my son and the luggage had disappeared. Had the train been called, was I supposed to follow, and if so, what track? Studying my ticket more closely, I noticed that it was only a torn fragment with a paid receipt stapled to it. And yet, I ran toward the tracks, showing my worn ticket to faceless conductors and asking where I was supposed to go. No answers, no answers, silence, walking around, going nowhere, frustration, and then a smile of recognition. This doozy of a nightmare was in reality a sweet dream.

Psychiatrists would have a field day interpreting the obvious symbols: Baltimore’s train station waiting room, luggage, tickets, trains, tracks. When my son graduated from high school in Texas and my daughter from college, I moved to Baltimore. Sometimes I waited for their passing visits, and sometimes they waited for me to pick them up at stations, trains, buses or airports. My grown daughter and son have their own tickets and luggage, their own trains to ride and tracks to choose. And that is as it should be, all good, sweet dreams. My parenting ticket, paid for and torn years ago, is a worn, expired fragment – and that is as it should be, too, all good, sweet dreams.

But why was I in a clothes closet? Why did I race for the tracks, asking anonymous conductors one after another where I was supposed to go? Change, changing clothes, and uncertainty about what ticket I’m supposed to hold in my hand. Change, changing tracks, uncertainty about which train I’m supposed to take. Who to ask? Apparently not faceless conductors, and then my smile of recognition: God, as it should be, all good, sweet dreams.

Early this morning, Keith and I attended a Lectio Divina devotional group at church and read Paul’s letter to the Philippians 1:12-18. The mature Paul rejoiced even though he suffered in prison and knew that

15Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.
 

Nightmares or sweet dreams, what does it matter? If I choose to step into the light and hear God’s voice, I will know what clothes to wear, what tickets to buy, what trains to board and what tracks to follow. Painful or peaceful, what does it matter?

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.

What ticket do you hold in your hand?

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