If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who Are You?

I published this essay in my third book, Learning to Lean. I hope it speaks to you as it still speaks to me.
But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk back to God? (Romans 9:20).

I dreamed a dream so real it startled me awake. I saw myself waiting at a traffic light on a street I didn’t recognize. Through the open Malibu window I heard strangers on the corner call to each other: “Roger is dead.”
Somehow I knew who they were talking about, and the news stunned me. I couldn’t believe it.
I wouldn’t believe it.

I pressed the gas pedal and raced toward the funeral home. In moments I burst into a viewing room and stood by my friend's open casket.

He lay on his left side, curled almost in a fetal position. And the blood. It was everywhere. On his chest. At the bottom of the casket. It covered his abdomen. His hands. His clothing.

I fell across him and wept – a deep, visceral sobbing.

I rarely have dreams in which I weep.

“Roger!” I shouted. “What are you doing here? What happened?”

My groans knew no balm as I wrapped my arms around him and pressed his lifeless body to myself.

Then, in the corner of my eye I noticed a man beside me. Late thirties. Five-ten, or so. Clean-shaved. Light colored short-sleeved shirt. Dark, thick hair.

I knew it was Jesus.

I stood and turned to Him, “You can’t let him die!”

It was not a request. It was an order.

“You just can’t.”

I didn’t try to choke down my grief.

“You can’t.”

Jesus looked into my eyes. I could still see his gaze hours later when I wrote down the dream. His expression unmistakable. It said: “Who are you to tell Me what to do?”

Then, as suddenly as His expression rebuked, it softened. And without a word His eyes said:

Trust Me.

I awakened. And though the image of my friend and the coffin stayed with me, so, too, did the Lord’s words.

When I realized I had only dreamed it, I prayed awhile for Roger and then called him. He was fine.
Then I sought to understand if the dream might mean something more. Perhaps a message for me.

After a time, I concluded: In the grip of even the deepest tragedy, or grief, despair, or heartache, Jesus always asks: “Who are you to tell Me what to do?”

And then He says:

Trust Me.
Beware of despairing . . . . You are commanded to put your trust in God, and not in yourself. – St. Augustine


Melanie Jean Juneau said...

so true..trust me
well I always think of Noah who trusted withouthe companionship of the Holy Spirit

Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks for commenting Melanie. And I think of people like the psalmist, or Habakkuk (3:17, I think), who also trusted without the presence of the Holy Spirit as He is now available to His children. Thus there is great reason for us today to trust better. (So, what is MY problem?)

Melanie Jean Juneau said...

It is a much busier, technological world, with little or no silence within the cities which are cut off from GOD'S CREATION People are living surrounded by steel and glass

Richard Maffeo said...

And God is the God of silence.

Anonymous said...

Just what I needed, Rich, just what I'm struggling with. God's timing..just can't get used to it :)

Richard Maffeo said...

You're welcome. We all need to be reminded -- over and over -- I am afraid.

Michael Maedoc said...

Wow, powerful dream. Its not about our measure of what's right and when... thanks for sharing.

Kathleen Basi said...

Wow--that's quite a dream. The image of Christ as "one of us" is perhaps the most powerful thing of all in that dream, at least for me...for him to look just like us, and not wear some ancient robe that separates him, puts a new tone on everything he says. I think I'll be puzzling over this for quite a while along with you.

Catholic Alcoholic said...

I love when Jesus said who are you to tell me what to do.

Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks for commenting, Kathleen. It remains for me a powerful image -- and rebuke.

Richard Maffeo said...

Michael and Catholic Alcoholic-- thanks to you also for commenting. As I just said to Kathleen, it remains for me a powerful image - one I hope I do not forget.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

"Who are you to tell me what to do?" Most immediately I think of all those who criticized Pope Emeritus Benedict for renouncing the papacy after much prayer. I told somebody we should be second-guessing the Holy Spirit.

With the others who commented on Jesus in contemporary clothing, I also was jolted. Jesus is. He is with us today. He is not just some guy who lived 2000 years ago and said a bunch of good stuff and was crucified for getting on the wrong side of the power elite among the Jews. Your image brings that home powerfully.

BTW, I'm glad your friend is OK. That was a scary dream.

Richard Maffeo said...

It's easier to criticize -- especially from a position of ignorance -- than to keep our mouths shut when we have no business talking. Maybe I will learn that one day.

Colleen said...

Trust is a hard thing for me to do. Jesus keeps reminding me, like through your post here! God bless.

Michael Seagriff said...

I am pleased to see you occasionally posting excerpts from your book, "Learning To Lean". I have enjoyed reading the book and suspect more who visit you here will be inclined to get copies as a result of such postings as this.

God Bless.

Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks, Michael. Actually, I consider it the best book I've written. I am nearly done with enough posts to publish my second volume of that book, but FIRST I have to finish my revision of the Nicene Creed book. Sheeesh. I need a calendar just to tell me what day of the week it is.

Richard Maffeo said...

Colleen, we are all on the same journey, aren't we. . .