This reflection is inspired by a dream I had in the spring of 2015. I really don't know how much I dream and to be honest with you, I'm not sure just how much of the dreams I've had I remember. That being said there are some dreams I have had that made quite an impression on me. I bet you can say the same thing. I've had nightmares that have frightened me so much that it was difficult to go back to sleep. I have had dreams where I was flying, looking down on buildings and roads and the wellbeing that such a dream gave me was very reassuring. But the dream I want to share with you is one like I've never had before and the impression it has made on me I will always remember. As a matter of fact this dream's impressions continue to grow.
My first recollection was that I was on the caboose of a train. It was at night and the train had stopped to take on a passenger. I recall walking out the back door of the caboose to give aid to the passenger that was boarding the train. As I looked down to the ground from my position on the rear of the caboose I noticed someone bending over with their back toward me picking up something to carry on to the train. It was dark but not so dark that I could not recognize the passenger. I recognized the passenger to be Jesus Christ. What he carried in his hands were two chairs. He had a chair for an adult and a chair for a child.
As he made his way on to the caboose I noticed that he seemed to be bubbling with enthusiasm. As I stood across the way from where he was he placed the adult size chair in the back corner of the caboose and then he placed the chair for the child next to his chair. Then he sat down in the adult chair. I thought to myself that he must really think a lot of children to have brought a chair just for them, and there were no children in the caboose. Once again I couldn't help but notice just how enthused he was as he tried to get comfortable in his chair.
While he shifted his weight from side to side I took the moment to examine his facial features. Its not everyday one gets to gaze upon the face of Jesus so I didn't want to miss the opportunity. In my dream his hair was curly and dark. It appeared as though he had just trimmed his beard. His robe was made of linen that was finely woven. I was impressed to think that he was such a handsome man.
After he finally got comfortable he looked over and said to me, "I'm just so excited!" To which I replied, "You're not the only one!" Then a young man walked up to his chair in a rather humble fashion and reached out to shake his hand. As they were shaking hands I ventured to look down at Jesus' feet thinking that if this is really Jesus he will have scars on his feet. When I did I noticed they were both covered with white gauze bandages and then I woke up weeping.
I've had a lot of time to think about this encounter with Jesus and what I would like to share with you has to do with the child's chair. The Apostle Paul indicated that due to the fact that we are all in Christ Jesus when he died on the cross we died with him. When he was buried we were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the grave we were resurrected with him and when he ascended to the Father we ascended with him. Finally, when he sat down at the right hand of his Father we sat down beside him. I can imagine the excitement of Jesus as he provides a place for each of us to sit. Have you ever gone to a place where there was standing room only? Jesus said he would prepare a place for us so that where he is we will be also. Where is he you ask? John 14: 20 answers that question. In that day you will know that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you!!!!
Supplement: December 2016
Since having this dream in the spring of 2015 a lot of things have occurred in my life that are related to it. I will attempt to share with you what those things are as they relate to my dream. Not long after having the dream I asked in prayer what was the meaning of the caboose. I did some research regarding the caboose and its history. As you may know cabooses are no longer in use in the United States but while they were, they served as a very important car because of its location in the train. It was where the Conductor managed the business of the train and it was also the vantage point to care for the cars and the engine ahead of it. Soon my prayer was answered as I heard in my spirit the following: "Though your life is nearing its end it will be significant." I'm sure everyone wants their life to be significant however, at the time I did not know what this message meant.
Soon Christmas 2015 arrived and my wife bought me a replica of a caboose to commemorate this extremely vivid dream. It looked like any other caboose and I proudly placed it on display to give remembrance to the dream. As 2016 commenced I had been serving as a chaplain at the Baptist Medical Center in Mississippi for over 23 years. During that year my vice president informed me that some changes were forthcoming in the pastoral care department. He informed me that a new director of pastoral care position was in the works and if I wanted to continue as the director of pastoral care, I would have to apply for it. As the director of the pastoral care department some thirteen years I had developed and supervised a clinical pastoral education program sponsored by the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. When I learned that if I was chosen I would no longer have the time to supervise clinical pastoral education. It was then that I withdrew my name from consideration.
To make a long story short during the late summer and early fall of 2016 I began looking on line to see if there were any pastoral care director positions available in the southeastern part of the United States. There were none. However, there was one position in Delaware that ironically had a clinical pastoral education supervisor component attached to it and this supervisory position was with the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. As I pondered this position I thought that Delaware was just too far away so I dismissed it. A week later I was looking on line once again and there was that position in Delaware I had previously dismissed. I asked my wife what she thought and her words to me, "you won't know unless you apply." So I applied.
This began what I have termed "a dance" between the Holy Spirit and my dream. While this dance continued I happened to look at the little caboose my wife had purchased for me back in 2015. The picture associated with this reflection is the picture I took of the caboose she gave me. You look at it and see if you see what I saw that day.
When I connected the dots of Jesus bringing the child's chair on to the caboose coupled with the bandages on his feet and the fact that the hospital in Delaware was a children's hospital all of a sudden it became very clear to me just how important children are to him and how this very vivid dream has served to enlighten my journey.
Finally, I was offered the position at the Nemours-Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and I accepted. By the way, in my dream there was a young man that crossed in front of me on his way to shake hands with Jesus. I have often wondered who this person was and why he was on the train. As I sat in the lobby of the children's hospital in Delaware I was relating this story to the human resources associate that had originally contacted me concerning this position. As I related this story to her all of a sudden her facial expressions brightened and she asked if I knew how much Alfred duPont loved trains. She went on to tell me that there are trains represented in various places throughout the hospital. Once again I became overwhelmed with wonder at this amazing journey. The thought occurred to me, "I wonder if the man that stepped up to shake the hand of Jesus was Alfred himself." With all the pieces of this story that have fallen into place it wouldn't surprise me.
I recommend that the reader locate the blog entry entitled "The Unfolding Dream" to learn how this dream continues to unflold and shape my journey at this children's hospital.