Tuesday, January 30

[Extra]Ordinary Stairs

I have a great deal to report, especially after a weekend of 24-7 prayer with the teens/pre-teens at my church. Tomorrow I will try to post some pictures from our wild little adolescent prayer room. But for now I'd like to turn to Zechariah, and to a vivid dream I had yesterday about stairs, worship, and community.

I've been itching to study the minor prophets for the last few years. They seem so underrated and mysterious and glossed over. (Those are my favorite kinds of anything, incidentally.) Well, I'm finally at a season in my life where I can sit down with a few commentaries and really study these minor keys. I'm starting with Zech.

Zechariah had 8 profound visions in one night. Taken as one, they all concerned the role of Jerusalem before the Messiah would reign forever and make all things new. The prophetic words greatly encouraged Israel at the time, because they'd recently returned from captivity, and were desperate for God's blessing once again. But Zechariah's words weren't fulfilled in his time. They spoke of a time to come.

All of this study about visions and dreams has me thinking about loads of things. But today, for one, I can't get out of my mind a dream I had yesterday. I was resting in the afternoon, after a nice drive back from Baltimore and lunching with Wanda and Renee. I fell into quite a deep sleep for just taking a nap, and I dreamt of stairs.

I was with two younger women, climbing ordinary-looking, unfinished wooden stairs that seemed to go miles high. As we started walking together up the stairs, I said, "These stairs will take us deeper into God's presence. I won't let you fall behind me." The young women nodded, and we climbed.

As we neared the top, the two panicked. They remembered another young woman was far below, still on the ground. She'd never started climbing. They looked at each other, and then at me, and shouted frantically:

"Vicky! We have to go back down to get Vicky. She needs us to help her up these stairs."

And so they made the long journey down, and helped Vicky begin making the climb up the wooden stairs. She was visibly reluctant, at first. But they managed the way upwards through their persistence as they walked alongside of her.

Now, I'm no Zech, and no, I haven't been listening to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." But I do think there is loads in that dream that speaks of our profound need for each other, and of our deepest need to "come up higher" into God's presence.
There is much to be said about worship in the dream.
The stairs were so ordinary! They were unfinished and rough, but sturdy. There were no hand-rails! How risky the way up really was. I only knew that I was safe climbing upward with a few others beside me.


lisa said...

beautiful dreamer! i am happy about this dream. have been thinking about how much we all need each other. had some really nice conversation recently with jesse about how much we all need each other. i LOVE the going back down for Vicky part. hhhmmmm, reminds me of a Front Door song that says, "And I will turn back for you! I will turn back for you."

also, being of the simple persuasion, i love the un-adorned stairs.

and the simple steps forward remind me of an old hymn that has a beautiful first verse,

"just as i am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou biddest me come to thee, o Lamb of God, i come, i come."

so sweet and true.

i'm going to see you soon, doo dah, doo dah!
i'm going to see you soon, doo dah, doo dah day!

Cari said...

Nelly, I love all these dreams he's been giving you. Wow. Have you read Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard? If you haven't, check out this quote: http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=feardiedthatday&nextdate=12%2f26%2f2006+23%3a59%3a59.999
Sorry, that is a really long link.
But it's so rad. Who will climb the mountain of the Lord? There is no one but us. And all that stuff in Psalm 24 and the Song of Solomon and Jacob in Genesis. I love Jacob, I think precisely because I can't stand him. I mean, he's so intense. So selfish. Grasping after whatever he can get. All of God that God will give. And his name is changed to God-Wrestler.
It's like we're climbing these stairs, and like every 5 minutes I talk myself out of it. No no, there's nothing up here I want or need. I think I'll just go back down, this is a little risky and I don't want to feel uncomfortable.
But where else could we go? He has called us, and there is no joy, no peace, no life outside of that call. It's hard and it's rad and it frustrates me and yet I can't escape it.
I like your dreams. May we climb those stairs.

Cari said...

You can read the Annie Dillard quote on the 12/26/2006 entry. It's a good one:)

jenelle said...

Lisa, you're right...it is a lot like the Front Door song that we both love.

I like it when you sing hymns to me.

jenelle said...

Cari, this was the quote from Miss Dillard, right? I think you are more like Jacob than you know, incidentally.

"A blur of romance clings to our notions of 'publicans,' 'sinners,' 'the poor,' 'the people in the marketplace,' 'our neighbors,' as though of course God should reveal himself, if at all, to these simple people, these Sunday school watercolor figures, who are so purely themselves in their tattered robes, who are single in themselves, while we now are various, complex, and full at heart. We are busy. So, I see now, were they. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead--as if innocence had ever been--and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, failed, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There has never been."

"We do need reminding, not of what God can do, but of what he cannot do, or will not, which is to catch time in its free fall and stick a nickel's worth of sense into our days. And we need reminding of what time can do, must only do; churn out enormity at random and beat it, with God's blessing, into our heads: that we are created, created, sojourners in a land we did not make, a land with no meaning of itself and no meaning we can make for it alone. Who are we to demand explanations of God? (And what monsters of perfection should we be if we did not?)"

-Annie Dillard "Holy the Firm"

Cari said...

Yeah, that's it. Wow. I just started Pilgrim at Tinker Creek today. The way she talks about her fighting tomcat's bloody paws kneading her chest:

"I never knew as I washed, and the blood streaked, faded, and finally disappeared, whether I'd purified myeslf or ruined the blood sign of the passover. We wake, if we ever wake at all, to mystery, rumors of death, beauty, violence..."

I'm glad you think I'm like Jacob, even if he's rather unlikable sometimes. Will you tell me what you've been learning about the minor prophets when you come? Thinking of your interview tomorrow. Love