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St. Patrick's Cathedral, Washington, DC

It felt like my heart had finally made its way home. I found myself in a place where the world seemed far away. For a moment, I thought I was in heaven, far above the concerns of my past. I was in a place filed with the imaginations of my mind. But I was hearing voices, many other voices, contributing their wisdom to my words and images. I was in a big room, in a concert hall or cathedral. I wasn’t entirely sure.

The walls of this huge hall were buttercream-colored, with the brightest, whitest vaulted ceiling and pillars I’d ever seen. The seats in the hall were burgundy in color, on a dark cherry-wood floor so shiny with lacquer that I could see my face reflecting from it.  It was a room that smelled of tulips and roses, of honeysuckle and other sweet scents I’ve only smelled in my mind. Flower shops never smelled this exquisite, women never so intoxicating.

At first, I thought that I was in the balcony, a dark place with another set of chairs, these painted black. I looked over there. No people inhabited this space. Just distance whispers, tiny sounds of fear and doubt that would come out of there. Only to be canceled out by my thoughts, my ideas, my images.

A bright light shone through from a glass dome that I somehow hadn’t noticed before, The light was directly on me as slowly began to move from the back of the hall toward the stage and the cream-colored curtains that dressed its sides and top. I realized that I wasn’t walking, that I was somehow flying, but not. It was more like I was walking on air, dressed like I was a scholar, or pastor, or Roman senator. But that wasn’t it, not quite. As I started toward the stage, slowly at first, I heard this soft yet pressing music mingle with my thoughts. It wasn’t religious music, though. It was a cross between classical music and new age, something like Bach combined with Enya. I had no idea what was going on at the other end of the hall. I just knew I had to get there.

Suddenly I could see my thoughts in the light combine with the musical notes that I’d been hearing throughout my air walking across the hall. The thoughts and music came down to me as words on pages. I found myself writing about everything I could imagine. I wrote papers for all of my classes. I scribbled down thoughts and notes for my thesis. I typed out tremendous volumes of materials, some for the world in which I thought I was a part of, many more for another world, another place. I wrote and thought so much that the paper rained down on the audience below, a light and paper shower that would’ve rivaled a torrential rainstorm.

I wrote as if time was running out, for I couldn’t be in this hall forever. And I was right. My pace had picked up, so much so that I was not longer walking on air, I was flying! I looked at myself and saw that I was wearing the slightly off-white robe of an angel, floating about and changing lives with my light and paper shower. The people below had picked my pages up, and were speaking the words that were on them. It was a swirling chant of many, many words and ideas, so many that I was dizzied by them.

Yet the music wouldn’t stop, and I didn’t stop. I kept writing. I kept going, even as friends would disappear below from my view, even as time seemed to march on at light-speed. I found myself above the stage of the hall, giving it one last look as I flew away, writing all the while. I rose above the ceiling, past the stage, out of the clear glass dome and into the light that had been my companion the whole time.

It was the greatest vision I ever had of myself and of my life. Best of all, it happened while I was sound asleep, with none of the distractions of my life in the way. For once, I hadn’t allowed my fear of heights or flying scare me awake. I was completely baffled at first, though. Most of my visions were simple affairs. If my classmates didn’t like me, I knew that they had issues of their own. If I had a fight with my ex-stepfather, I knew how to escape or found a way to beat him up. If my crush from seventh grade showed up, I’d stare at her or maybe give her a short smooch of a kiss.

This one was so complicated that I didn’t quite figure it out. Not on that October day in ‘91, and not in the two decades since. But in my first-year graduate student mind, I first interpreted it this way. I saw myself as someone who would have to write more than I’d ever written in my life to earn my master’s degree, and, if I chose to go on, my doctorate in history. That there would be many people watching my every move, with some of my friends falling by the wayside along the way. That there would be some hoping and praying that I didn’t finish. That my own feelings and fears were the things that I needed to overcome. And that no matter what, God was there with me, shining truth and wisdom on me so that I could write and finish school successfully.

Although that was a fine interpretation to pump me up for finishing my master’s in two semesters and my history doctorate in five years, it was far from an accurate one. I missed so much of the wisdom in that vision twenty years ago. A wisdom based not in the academic, but based on the practical and supernatural. A kind of wisdom that can only visit us from the past and future. Over the past twenty years, I’ve realized that there was a twelve-year-old with a grand vision talking to me while in deep sleep that morning in mid-October ‘91. A boy who knew, somehow, that my destiny was to write about my life, my dreams, my nightmares and my hard-learned wisdom, supernatural and experiential. That boy had a window into a life that I’m only beginning to understand. I must defer to the voice of that boy, for it is he who has a better understanding of visions and how they can change the world, and not I.