Usually if I am thoroughly obsessed with a book...I use the word obsessed because that is how I read a book if I really enjoy it. If I do not enjoy a book I slothfully inch my way through each paragraph resenting and begrudging every turn of a page. I'll admit to you that there have been few books that become obsessions to me. I am embarrassed to admit how quickly I flew through the Twilight series.
Rarely do I actually have a dream about books that I've read. My dreams consist of what I ate the day previous or some horrible reenactment of a blood fest movie that my husband forces me to watch from behind the safety of our couch cushions. If the book is well written then I do create mental images, as I'm sure most people do. Except I have a difficult time getting past my own requirements. For example, I never could picture Edward Cullen, the hero from Twilight, with dark eyes. In my mind, his eyes were always blue...which I'm sure would have devoted fans of the book freaking out and squealing. As cheesy as it sounds I think it is because the author insisted that Edward was the ideal man. I simply cannot imagine any color of eyes to gaze into whether in dreamland or reality other than blue. My sweet husband has amazing blue eyes. It was the first thing I noticed about him.
A good friend of mine suggested that I read The Robe by Lloyd Douglas. I am about two-thirds of the way through and I'm thoroughly enraptured by the story. The Robe is Christian fiction, which usually doesn't appeal to me simply because I have such a difficult time making mental pictures of the heroic men and women in biblical scripture... especially Jesus.
Pictures of Jesus in art both intrigue and irritate me. It is not that I don't appreciate someone else's visual interpretation of Christ. It is irritating that I can't create one for myself.
In Rome, we had the opportunity to enter St. Peter's cathedral. I was awestruck by the Pieta. I still get chill bumps remembering standing in the presence that particular work of art. Oddly enough, it was cold in St. Peter's even though it was Italy in June... probably because of the stone surroundings in that huge hall. I remember staring at this medieval masterpiece that had been copied and re-created over hundreds of years with no one able to match the beauty and perfection of the original. It is hard to believe that the shroud that covers Christ in this sculpture is stone as it flows so beautifully as if a breeze could wisp it around His body. It is difficult not to stare and wait for the fabric to flow away from Mary's hair and she gracefully and lovingly holds her son for, what she thought, was the last time. I love the Pieta and someday I hope to see it again. Nevertheless, The Pieta is colorless and resembles something of a ideal image of post crucifixion, I think.
My dad has a neat drawing of Jesus in his office. If I remember right, Jesus is laughing in that picture. That particular rendering is one of my favorite's. I have always felt Christ must have had a sense of humor to hang with such a hodge podge of folks in the desert for so long. Nevertheless, there is still was something missing from that drawing as it is more like a caricature.
I've seen hundreds of crucifixes, which all have a tendency to send me into a deep depression or simply creep me out. I remember one crucifix in a cathedral in Dresden, Germany, where the sculpted Christ had real human hair on it's head. That was just scary.
So you see, I've never been able to picture Christ in my own mind, and artists don't really help me out either.
Anyhow, The Robe tells the story of a Roman tribune, Marcelles, who had the horrific duty of overseeing Christ's crucifixion. The plot follows this man through his first encounter of Jesus, the horror of the crucifixion and then the aftermath. It is interesting to consider Christ through the eyes of the Romans. Most often I examine Him through the eyes of His devoted followers. Since I have not finished the book I don't know whether Marcelles ever becomes a believer in the resurrection of Christ or not. He does not witness the resurrection in the book, and at this point anyway he simply feels that an innocent and amazing man was put to death wrongly.
Two nights ago I was reading my new found obsession before bedtime. I began to feel myself getting super sleepy and since I have three little automatic and noisy alarm clocks who demand breakfast around 6:45AM...I put the book down and snuggled in. I quickly drifted off to sleep.
It was sunny and dry. The air smelled foul like I had just driven past a Texas cow lot. When I looked at my feet, I saw they were plastered with dirt and that my leather sandals were well worn. I knew I was dreaming. Where the heck was I?
Suddenly I realized was on the road to Jerusalem...in a dream.
I looked around and saw Jewish families all heading in the same direction, all for Passover.
I wondered if it was hotter with a head covering, but cooler with a dress...and supposed that wearing both evened the temperature out to about the same.
The laden animals were noisy and annoying, and I was glad to be walking.
It registered to me at this point that I was reliving a scene from The Robe... only I was there...me.
My heart began to jump as I realized that I was on the same path as Marcelles in the book, on my way to see Jerusalem for the first time...on my way to see Jesus... for the first time.
Fully aware that this was a dream, I began to beg myself...don't wake up...just don't wake up...He is right around that bend about twenty feet away. Don't wake up.
I could see the top of the city walls. The wall around Jerusalem was huge and the same color as the earth beneath my feet and the same dusty color as the low valley walls that blocked my view of Him. There was a narrowing of the valley ahead and then it opened into flatland before reaching the city gates.
I knew if I could just make it around that bend ahead that I would see Him...finally.
He would hidden by a crowd of people at first. They were laying olive branches down for His donkey to walk upon at this point.
Walk faster. Don't wake up.
I could hear the crowd swelling as some of them yelled "King of Kings". The travelers in the valley wore confused faces as they also heard the crowd ahead and wondered what was going on.
I was almost there. I knew what was ahead. I knew He was just steps away.
Don't wake up. Don't wake up! Even if it is just a dream...just don't wake up. You will finally have your visual of Him. Whether it is a picture from your subconscious or a copied image from Rome or the real deal...you will finally have it. You will finally see Him. The one character you could never place in you mind...yet the only one that ever really mattered. You will see him. Just don't wake up! No one is going to believe this.... they will finally know that I'm completely crazy...and I don't care. After thirty years of wondering...I will have my picture of Him.
My heart pounded and began to race. I couldn't make it around the donkeys, camels and old Jewish men muttering Aramaic fast enough.
Although in a dream, I could feel my eyes blur and burn as tears began to fall. The dust kicked up by the crowd flew in my face and when I tried to wipe it away I could feel a layer of mud forming on my cheeks. My heart raced within my throat.
He is right around that corner. I will finally see Him! Just a glimpse, that's all I need. Just one look at His eyes.
Please please...don't wake up!
I'm almost there. I edged and stumbled around the mound that opened the valley working my way through the crowd of animals and people alike.
Stupid mules get out of the way! Don't wake up!
The walls towered over my head and I felt so small beneath them. I could see the crowd pushing in around Him all questioning if this was the man they waited for hundreds of years to come.
Get out of the way!
They were all focused on the same thing as if they were in a dream too. They were all after the same picture I was. I followed the focus of their questioning eyes. Was it Him?
No no no!!! My visual!!! I had almost seen Him. I almost had my picture of Him.
I was there...almost there.
For the last two nights I've tried to get that dream back to no avail.
Hope is not lost though...I'll see Him...someday. You will, too.