It is almost 11 pm on Monday night. I am listening to Chicago’s hit, “If you leave me now”. I am also enjoying “Love Me Tomorrow”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away”, and my favorite Chicago song ever “You’re the Inspiration. What does this say about me? I like Chicago. I remember fighting my brothers to keep the radio station on when Chicago came on. It is just as magical today as it was back then.
When I hear Chicago I return to an innocent age of mini golf, movies, and swinging in the swing on my belly as I pretended to fly. I was always pretending to be something or someplace else. I was a child that was never really present.
I did not have many friends growing up. I was a shy and quiet kid. I did get into my share of trouble. I was always daydreaming. One day I would imagine myself in outer space as I sat in the old wreaking ball that was placed in the schoolyard for us to play in. In other moments I was a break dancer, showing off my moves for Cindy Bishoff. My favorite was the “Pharaoh.” My cousin taught this to me and told me it worked on all of the ladies.
I would get in trouble and be sent to the principals office. While waiting I would read these WWII books filled with airplanes, tanks, trench warfare, and guns. I was totally fascinated. Mind you this was the days of Rambo and Red Dawn. We were on the verge of being overrun by the evil red bastards. I was so into the books I would hang out in the office. I even got in trouble for hanging out in the principals office, because I liked to read these books.
I would spin on the merry go round and imagine myself in a time machine. I was able to go anywhere I wanted to go. I went to Egypt, Africa, India, WWII, and for some reason I dreamed of going to sit on a cloud.
Why the cloud? It was my rudimentary understanding of God that bred this idea. I saw God in heaven up there in the clouds. I wanted to be near God so that is where I imagined myself. I used to read the Bible and draw on the maps that graphed the exodus, the journeys of Paul, and the ministry of Jesus. I imagined myself going there to those places and times with my magic dune buggy. I drew maps on copies I had made. I labeled the maps and details what was going on around me.
I even have on of these maps I made in my first Bible. Right next to the G.I. Joe I had dreamed up called Rapid Assault Trooper or R.A.T. This particular race was called the Great Desert Derby! At the end the trophy sat…a conversation with Jesus.
I cannot imagine what I would have asked Jesus back then. What would a 8 or 9 year old ask Jesus? Maybe it pertained to the divorce of my parents, which I understood as a no-no in Gods eyes. Perhaps it was why the “Pharaoh” was not working with Cindy. I just know I dreamed a lot and was a heady little guy.
Now some 20 odd years later I have an entirely different set of questions. The similarity to that 8 year old self is that I still dream. I often find myself inside my head…thinking. I am still as heady today as I was back then. I find myself in Africa, the Caribbean, China, New Zealand, and back in Los Angeles. It almost seems that I can never find myself right there where I am at, in that particular moment. I am a dreamer.
I buy lottery tickets and dream. If I win this money I would…pay off my loans, buy a sensible vehicle, pay off the debts of my family and friends, set up a foundation of service in poverty ridden areas, give money to this church, this organization, that cause, this university, and that seminary. I just might take a trip in the summer to every ball park with my brother, Grant. I would definitely get my tattoos finished.
I dream. I dream of churches. I dream of theologies. I dream of liturgies. I dream of the family that I hope to have one day. I dream of decorating a house. I dream of art that haunts me. I dream of people I used to know. Dream of things I did, both good and bad. I dream of pains and losses. I dream of victories and joys. I dream. In many ways I am still that little boy on his belly swinging on the swing flying in the sky.
I have been thinking and praying about my life a lot lately. I want clearer direction in my life. I want more responsibility and commitment in my life. I am ready to shed that vestige of childhood and cover myself with the cloak of adulthood. This is funny that at the age of 32 I am just now getting here. So I pray and meditate a lot. I have had much time on my hand here. With my life absent of the numerous distractions I have been using to stunt the move towards adulthood.
Gone is the booze, the bars, the TV shows, the movies, the anything. I have been pleased with a moment to gain clarity and vision. I am learning to listen to God. This is not the big booming voice of James Earle Jones I had imagined. The voice I hear these days is more like a meek and mild child. With a soothing, soft voice that whispers into my ear when I sit in the wind and look out at the cattle graze. It is that giggle when I smile and feel the joy of my love for my special someone. The comfort I feel when I realize I am not alone.
In my early 20’s I desired these feelings greatly. I tried to own them. I lived a military like existence full of self deprivation, discipline, humility building, and the guilt and shame of being a sinner. I never let grace enter the equation. I would get drunk and feel bad when the high wore off. I was still lying there with a broken heart. I still felt abandoned. I was still lost. I looked out from the roof top across the street at the university I lived across from. I watched all the people there, folks laughing and learning. They made friends and were going places. I dreamed I was there with them.
Sometimes I would go over there and walk around among them. I would go sit around and listen to conversations. These people sounded very smart to me. Over time I grew intimidated by them. I became like a ghost, a phantom walking among them. I still would go over there but the time between visits grew more and more until they just stopped. Then I turned my chair up on the roof top away from the university.
I stopped dreaming of God. I stopped dreaming all together. I became a drone bee. I woke up and went to work. I worked. I came home. I drank. I was living, sort of.
This went on for sometime, perhaps ten months or so. I began hanging out with an old friend from high school. She and I had been through bad relationships in recent months and we both stopped dreaming of God. It was a perfect crossroad for both of us. We would hang out and play “Bust-A-Move” on PS1. We would go to the train station and put our worries and problems on the departing trains. We both agreed that if we wanted to worry about those things again we had to chase down the train we loaded up with our problems and worries and get them off.
We were very therapeutic for each other. This was not a romantic relationship. It was very healing. I still drank during this time. I drank with her even. One night she came over to the “Dirt Farm” to hang out. Somehow she got me up on the roof top overlooking the university. She in her drunken stupor began to expound on life and the challenges it brings to us. She shared her hopes and dreams up there. And as she did something clicked deep within me. I still had hopes and dreams. I wanted more than a drunken existence. I was growing less and less afraid. A spark appeared [or was there all the time and I was unaware of it] in my belly. That night we talked until the sun began to rise.
There we were the orange glow of the sun climbing over our aching heads and hope filled hearts. It was here I began to dream again. I looked out at the university again that morning. It looked inviting and open. I walked over there by myself and explored this early morning portrait of higher learning. I spent the better part of the morning just walking around the campus, dreaming that one day I was there.
The next day I meet up with this old friend. We went to the train station to hang out. It was a Sunday night. When we got there we noticed that they had installed a small playground at the east end of the station. We walked over to the playground and sat on the swings.
We sat there in the swings for a bit. I shared with her what had happened last night. I told her about the walk around the university. She swung and listened to me. Then I got up and went to the other side of the swing and lay down. I was now belly first in the swing and I began to fly! I began to soar all over. I was a bird, a plane, a cloud. I was 8 years old again. I continued to imagine I was everywhere but therein the train station.
The next day I went to work. I could not shake what had happened to me over the weekend. I went to lunch that day and dreamed. When I returned I just up and quit my job. The next day I enrolled at a local junior college. I have no idea what led me to do this I just did it. I began to dream again. I returned to speaking with God. I stopped drinking everyday. I went to that very university that I watched over on the roof top from across the street. So I can now say to God, “You’re my Inspiration.” This is how an 8 year old boy dreamed his way to seminary and on into ministry.