Monday, January 5, 2009
I'm walking up a flight of stairs to the front door of a house. It looks a bit like a brownstone in Manhattan. It's my understanding that I am there to retrieve a baby. When I walk in the door, I see that a man is in the room. My first thought is, 'Why is a guy here?' Then I see that the man is the Dalai Lama and I think, 'Well, at least it's the Dalai Lama.' The Dalai Lama is busily engaged in making a bed. He lifts the edge of a sheet, snaps it into the air and lets it drift downwards, back to the bed; its own momentum makes it lie smooth, wrinkle-free. The edge of the Lama's red robe flies as he strides from one side of the bed to the other, tucking in edges, his full attention given to the perfection of his task.
I walk though an open door at the back of that room, turn left and see another staircase. I walk down one step and there's the newborn baby, looking comfortable, not crying, despite her precarious position on the second highest step of what appears to be a set of dark stairs leading to a basement. She's snug in a blanket wrapped tight around her tiny body. I think to myself how dangerous it was for someone to have left the baby there. I pick up the baby.
Then, maddeningly, I wake up.
The last week of 2008 blessed me with a series of dreams. This one was the most memorable and I have pondered it much. During that week I was setting my goals for the new year. In my head only. Busy-ness kept me from writing the goals down or praying about them or reflecting on them with any depth, or even thinking through a plan to bring them into reality. My goals, my hopes for 2009 were like a newborn baby--they were alive, their blood was flowing, they were still breathing, but like the baby in my dream, they were in a precarious position, almost forgotten, incapable of climbing up those dark stairs and walking to the kitchen for a glass of milk.
Intentions are the beginning of any accomplishment, but if they're abandoned on a dark stairway, some unsuspecting person, even the Dalai Lama himself, unknowingly, may trample on them. Hopes must be rescued and brought into the light. No matter how warmly we wrap them in the depths of our heart, protection isn't enough for them to survive. They need to be fed.
Here's where the hard part comes in. We have to do the work. Observe the Dalai Lama making a bed. Things have to be lifted up and set in motion with a little effort. Momentum will carry them for a time. Then they must be completed. Attention to detail is involved. And yes, grace. Grace is as nearby as the next room, but you may have to climb some stairs to get there. And don't be afraid to ask for help.