In church recently, our adult Sunday School class spoke about life and described it as a journey. The topic and the class’ comments made me remember a dream I had sometime during the spring of 2009 or 2010. In the dream life was presented to me as a long endurance race in which we all take part. I shared my dream with the Sunday School class and thought that I should share it with you too. Please enjoy. I hope it blesses you.
Joyce and I stood on the verge of a road under the canopy of the woods. The leaves bristled in the gentle breeze, and the wind moved upon the green pastures ahead of us. They rolled westward as far as the eye could see emanating a sense of life and vibrancy in contrast to the craggy grey mountains that framed the horizon with their austere presence.
Hundreds and thousands of people surrounded us. There were people of all shapes, sizes, and cultures. Some were ready for the event with full hiking and camping kits on their backs. Others looked like they had got off at the wrong stop because they had dressed unsuitably for the long endurance race. Regardless of their preparedness, everyone was excited about starting the race.
A short shriek pierced our ears and static hissed. A crackling voice erupted from an invisible PA system. It echoed around the multitude in every direction announcing the beginning of the race.
The race begins
Some ran, and others walked. Others struggled along carrying their baggage and supplies. Some opted for an easy route and made trails through the grassy lowlands while others forged on through more arduous terrain. As people chose their different paths and moved at different speeds, the racers divided and split into smaller groups. Some, who were unable to keep pace, fell back by themselves. Others raced on alone refusing the companionship of a group.
Joyce and I were caught in the larger group’s momentum for the first few miles, but as the multitudes fragmented we set off together opting for one of the more difficult trails. We navigated through all types of terrain, hills, valleys, mountains, and marshland. At one point we found a tandem bike. It made the journey faster and easier so long as the terrain was good, but when we came to rocky hills or marshland, we had to get off and carry or push it. Sometimes we peddled together, and at other times we took it in turns to allow each other time to rest.
Those we met
Sometimes we were alone on the journey, and at other times we stopped to help others who struggled along. We carried them with us until they felt refreshed, then they either headed off by themselves or joined another group. There were others who joined us on the journey who did not pitch in. They leached from us and drained our energy. When they had finished taking from us all they thought they could get, they marched on and left us behind.
Other people joined us whose intentions were more nefarious. Their smiles bedazzled, and their promises captivated, but behind their perfect complexion and the glittering white teeth was a mind intent on derailing us. They tried to cause dissent and make us give up the journey. When they saw their mischief did not work, they left and went looking for other racers to hinder. We’d sometimes spy their silhouettes on the horizon for days on end as they stalked us waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
Though regularly tired and disheartened, we trod on. Even the hopeless stares of those who had given up and fallen by the wayside could not dissuade us from completing the race.
“It’s not worth it,” they shouted, clawing at us with their filthy outstretched hands. “You’re fools. We tried too and look what happened to us.”
Though we heard their jeers, there was a strength inside us that would not let us falter. We slogged on. There was a race to finish.
The “Rest Stop”
After days or weeks of travel, the racers’ paths converged on to sizeable wooden lodge. A red neon sign hung nearby saying “Rest Stop.” Some racers ignored it and trudged onwards scarcely lifting their heads while others, Joyce and myself included, entered the lodge.
The rest stop contained huge sofas, luxurious bedrooms, saunas, gymnasiums, and a massive buffet table containing enormous amounts of magically replenishing food. There were wall-to-wall TVs in every room playing the latest movies, sports, and videos games. Whatever the racers wanted, they could have, and it was all free. They ate, rested, and relaxed in a setting fitting royalty.
Joyce and I mulled around and partook of the rest stop’s delicacies, but something seemed wrong. Behind its comfortable and refreshing demeanor was an ominous odor beset on deceiving the racers. The luxuries softened them, the service made them lazy, and the bottomless supply of entertainment made them forget that there was a race to run.
Spouses argued as one tried to get the other to leave the luxury behind.
Parents ignored their children’s pleas to join the race. “Go on by yourself if you’re so keen. We’ve carried you enough,” the parents said.
The air was punctuated with promises like, “After this episode,” or “We’ll start the race again tomorrow.” Arguments over the validity of these and other promises split families.
Seeing all this made the pizza in my mouth taste like cardboard. This rest stop may have been refreshing and good for the soul, but too much of it was a bad thing. What the race organizer had set up for brief refreshment and respite had turned into a den of permanent self-indulgence.
I made my way over to where Joyce was by the exit. Taking each other’s hand, we pushed against the luxury and the comfort until we forced our way out of the rest stop.
The midday sun stung our eyes and beat down warmly upon our faces. By comparison, the environment of the rest stop was like refrigerated darkness. But despite the refreshing sunshine, our separation from the luxuries the rest stop provided made us feel cold and lonely. But what really chilled our hearts was the realization that many of the people who entered the rest stop would never leave it. Everything the rest stop provided may have been free, but it may eventually cost a person their soul.
We traveled onwards and passed two more rest stops. We resisted the lure of the first one, but it was inevitable that we stopped at the other because, despite the danger of never leaving and giving up on the race, the fact remained that we needed rest for our journey. Traveling onwards from the last stop, we eventually arrived at a vast cavernous tunnel mouth. It spanned as far as the eye could see from the east to the west and entirely impeded everyone’s journey.
A large group of racers converged at its entrance. People fidgeted, looked down at the ground, and shuffled their feet – anything but look into the unnatural darkness. Hopelessness and despair radiated from it in waves. The people looked to one another for someone to take the lead, do something, or just make a move in a discernible direction.
“No way,” one lady in a grimy yellow raincoat defiantly said. “The race organizer has another thing coming if he thinks I am going through there. I’m going to find a way around.” The lady pushed through the multitudes calling out for others to join her in circumnavigating the tunnel. Her compelling message drew many converts and they disappeared over the horizon together.
“I’m going back to the last rest stop,” a man near me grumbled. He pushed his way back through the crowd calling out, “This is folly. Who wants to return to the rest stop where we had plenty and lacked nothing?” His appeals echoed around the group and a sizable number followed him back down the road we had come.
Others did not know whether to follow the woman or follow the man. It seemed to them that to do either would forfeit the conditions of the race. In their indecisiveness, they choose to pitch camp about the tunnel entrance. “At least we got this far,” they said to one another consolingly.
A handful of people inquisitively poked around the tunnel’s entrance exchanging looks of uncertainty and apprehension. Their eyes said it all – “where else can we go?” Surrendering to the inevitable, one of them pulled back his shoulders, set his gaze straight, and strode into the eerie tunnel. The darkness swallowed him. The other few looked at each other and went into the darkness one-by-one.
Entering the darkness
We wanted to turn back, but a burden inside us would not let us. We had to finish the race. Throwing aside the tandem bike, we stepped into the tunnel. The thick darkness immersed us, and we shuffled forward with hands outstretched feeling our way through nothingness. The darkness was so dense that the noises of those we followed sounded muffled and distant.
I could not tell if we were moving forward, backward, or going around in circles. What if we were to grope around in the tunnel and never see daylight or each other again? We’d starve to death in the darkness within earshot of each other’s last gasps.
An indiscernible length of time passed, and I felt cold damp clay in my outstretched hands. I ran my hands down its length. It seemed smooth and appeared to run in both directions. “I think I found a wall.”
“I’ve found it too,” a woman to my left called out.
“Maybe we could burrow through it,” another voice suggested.
I clawed at the clay. Huge chunks came free in my hands and fell at my feet. I felt the others beside me, and we tore and pulled out sections of the wall together. I heard the squelch of damp clay and the puffs of their exertion. Now and then someone hissed or bellowed in pain as they broke a nail or hurt a finger while pulling on the stubborn clay. But even in the darkness, I could see that we wasted our energies. We were getting nowhere.
“The walls are coming in!” A woman screamed. Her fear reverberated around the hopeless atmosphere like electricity through water.
I wondered what she was on about but then I felt the walls move. The damp clay fell heavily on top of us pressing us together. An arm or something pressed into my ribs. The treads of walking books dug agonizingly into the small of my back like someone was trying to climb up over me. Some metallic object was pushing up into my face, and I felt the damp clay through my shirt pressing against my chest. My chest grew tighter and tighter with each rasping breath. All the blood in my body was forced up to my head making it feel like it was going to explode. Why was this happening? We had participated in the race, and we had kept going when others chose to go back. Why were we going to die here, crushed to death in the darkness?
A sharp buzzing sound pierced our ears. A radio crackled. “Did I not tell you this would happen?” It was the voice of the race organizer cutting through the pressure and the hopelessness. “And did I not tell you, that I would make a way?”
The clay walls slowly receded. Those who had clambered over me toppled back into their own space. I fell to my knees and gasped in vast amounts of damp, clammy air. Those around me did the same. The precious air fueled our moans and groans, and expressions of relief.
Soundlessly, the clay in front of us peeled open to reveal an intense light. The dazzling pain in my eyes was unbearable and protecting my eyes behind my forearms did little to block it out. A fresh breeze rushed in like a summer wind. Slowly, the light subsided and became less bright.
I took my arm away and peered through my eyelids. Out of the light colors emerged and I saw shapes and forms. Birds sang nearby, and a dry breeze brushed my checks. Green pastures rolled out ahead of us, and the sun was rising over the horizon. There was a smell of hope and promise in the air.
We walked out of the side of the tunnel rejoicing. United by our ordeal and race announcer’s deliverance, we walked along together beside the tunnel wall until we came to the other end of it. We continued on the journey.