Monday, December 24, 2012

Visions

About 7 years ago, I was in an upstairs classroom with a pack of teachers at  6:45 am. Every day began with a time of devotion and prayer for our school and students. On this particular day, we circled up and held hands to pray together. "Pastor Rabbi" Kevin, the Messianic Jewish rabbi and high-school physics teacher led off with his fluid "Avinu Malkeinu, our Father, our King..." and we teachers, from so many different backgrounds, joined in with our prayers as well.
A snapshot of me in the school parking lot my first year teaching,
taken by my parents, proud of their (not very) gainfully
employed child.

After prayer, the hand on my right held on to mine longer than usual. It was one of the more pentecostal-leaning Bible teachers, Mr. M. He said, "Jana, I just wanted to mention this to you. I don't want to make you feel weird, but the past couple of days I've been next to you at prayers and I was given a vision both times. I don't usually share these things, but I feel like it was impressed on me that I should share this one with you. May I?" 

I said yes. He described what he had seen. I was standing in a warm, sunny area, like a field. It felt very warm and comforting. I was cradling an infant in my arms. The overwhelming sense of the image was contentment, wholeness, enough-ness, joy. As I teared up, he quickly told me that visions like this one are  symbolic. The imagery of a mother and child, while it can mean physical motherhood, can also be a reference to symbolic "motherhood" of a vision or embracing a calling of some kind.

I was in tears, on the brink of a major ugly-cry at 7 in the morning, with a whole day of maintaining order among 7th and 9th graders ahead of me. I couldn't respond much at the moment, but I talked with Mr. M about it at lunch a few days later. He asked me if there was any connection to that vision. I told him I wasn't sure. I had no idea what the "child"--if the vision wasn't about actual motherhood, which is a thing I have always deeply cared about--that I could hold so closely and tenderly could be. I asked him if he had any ideas about that, but he just frowned a little and shook his head. "I just know the sense of the image was deep happiness and wholeness." 

Sometimes I think about that image of myself, which I can imagine clearly; a strong woman, whole, joyful, devoted. The thing I still don't know is how to get there. How to become that woman, since she seems just as far away now as she did then. In some ways I've been looking for that "child" purpose ever since the vision was shared with me. In dour moments, I wish I'd thought to ask Mr. M how old I looked in the vision, because it seems to be taking its sweet time in coming to pass.

I've been remembering this image often during this advent season, this time of waiting, wondering, remembering to hope, dwelling on promises, but unable to see their fulfillment. I don't understand it, but then, neither did Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth or Zechariah understand the whys of God's promise and fulfillment in their lives. 

I don't pretend to understand the why or wherefore of these kinds of stories that touch on foreknowledge or vision or prophecy. In my experience, the vision, though in my knowledge it hasn't yet come to pass, has given me something still, something to wonder about, a possibility to treasure, a sense of joy to search for.

And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. -Luke 2:18-19

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