Speaking of dreams

Once, I had a dream. It was many years ago, some time after my conversion, or reversion. Many of the details of time, place and event are now hazy; even the details of the dream have blurred. I was still young enough in my newly-recovered faith to be susceptible to such a dream, and to go searching eagerly for its references.

Here’s what I can reconstruct of it. The scene featured a chapel whose primary focus—whose only substance, perhaps— was a wall of intricately carved wooden panels, many in the form if the peaked arch which is so characteristic of western European church architecture. There was a doorway, which led I don’t know where. There were two men in the chapel; I couldn’t identify them. Also present, in some way I can’t rationalise, was Albrecht Dürer.

The space enlarged and an angelic choir, out of sight, began to sing a Christmas hymn I had loved in my childhood, and had long ago forgotten: What Child Is This, to the tune of Greensleeves. The volume, depth and richness of the music became majestic, and I woke up filled with joy.

I began to look for the words next day. This was in the days before the ubiquitous web, and I had to employ slower methods. It took some time, but find them I did. I remembered from the dream the words whom shepherds praise, whom angels sing. In the published text, I read whom shepherds guard, but I now use my variation, and the song always brings me the delight I felt as a child, and more. It is part of the texture of my relationship with the Lord, renewed and now re-renewed; a small instance of the secret life that enriches so many of the faithful, sustenance for the long dogged daily reality of faith.

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