Clothed in Innocence
Shared by Brian
I recorded the dream described below on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. As is my custom for dreams I consider to have a spiritual message for me, I wrote down this dream in my journal and reflected on what I learned and how I could apply the learning in my waking life.
This dream occurred on the evening before I was scheduled to deliver a presentation to my entire office of a hundred people. Although I knew my topic well and had even presented on it before, I found myself feeling the irrational fear that sometimes rises up within me prior to a public speaking appearance. I have done a significant amount of public speaking over the years and consider myself to be pretty good at it. Once I get started in my presentation, I am able to relax and even enjoy it. Yet, leading up to my presentation, below the surface, like a monster in the deep, there is this paralyzing fear which can rise up and take over, making my beginning remarks come across as extremely nervous and choppy. On two occasions, this fear actually made me physically ill and unable to deliver my presentation. Now, on this evening before my talk, I could feel the familiar fear rising up within me. I believe the following dream addressed this situation.
It is nighttime. I am upstairs in a rented room of a house, packing up my belongings to begin my travels. I am struggling with knowing where I am supposed to travel to. I am aware of having spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to figure out, trying to remember – I’m supposed to go somewhere, I just need to remember!
I sit down on the edge of my bed and survey my packed up bags and my otherwise empty room. I say to myself, “Where am I supposed to be going? Am I supposed to go home? I don’t even know where home is. And I don’t even know how to get there! With my limited eyesight, I’m going to have to venture out there completely on my own.”
But I know that there is a compelling reason why I do have to leave; it is urgent that I start my travels. I suppose my first step will be to catch a cab, then I’ll figure out where I’m going after that. The whole journey in front of me seems absolutely overwhelming, and I struggle mightily to stay calm and trust that I will make it to wherever I need to go, wherever that is.
So I pick up my bags and head downstairs. I quickly say my goodbyes to the other house renters, and I step out the front door of the house into the night. In order to get to the street, I have to take a concrete walkway that zigzags up a hill, stepping up on several stairs that are not evenly spaced. I think to myself, “This is hard enough for me with my partial eyesight, but I think it would be challenging for anyone, sighted or not!”
With every step I take, I feel a gloom of uncertainty setting in around me. I am pushing back on palpable fear now! I am coming to the point where I am not sure how I will even be able to go any further. I step up on to the street, with my bags in hand.
From behind me, down the hill at the house next door, I hear a young boy’s voice call out, “Dad! Hey Dad!” I turn and look back. In the dim light of the yard below, I can just make out the figure of a boy coming up the hill toward me. From his familiar voice, I realize – it is my son, Collin!
To my amazement, Collin is jauntily running up the steps toward me, carrying something in his arms. I am so incredibly joyful at seeing him. I think to myself, “Look at him take those stairs so easily!” And the thought occurs to me, “Now that Collin is here, he will be able to help me on my travels!” I feel such great relief and gratitude for his presence.
Collin steps up to me and eagerly shows me what he is carrying. “Dad, we got you the coat you always wanted. It’s got the lamb’s wool lining! Dad, try it on!”
I tentatively take the coat from him and slip my arm into the sleeve. My hand emerges from the sleeve, and I become aware that something is not right with the way I am wearing it. I don’t feel the wool lining at all. I’ve managed to put my arm in between the sleeve and the wool lining.
Collin laughs. “No, Dad, you have to go to the inside where the wool is, see?” I pull my arm out of the coat. And Collin shows me the zipper in the front of the coat and we unzip the lining together.
Once again I try on the coat. This time when I put my arms into the sleeves, I think to myself, “Oh no, the coat is going to be too big for me.” But then, as I stretch my arms into the coat, I discover it fits just fine. My hands emerge from the sleeves with the wool cuffs around my wrists.
Collin looks me over and regards the perfect fit of the coat. He seems very pleased. “I bet that will keep you warm?” I chuckle and say, “I definitely think so!”
As we stand there together, my feelings have completely changed. Somehow, I know that everything will be okay now. I can feel the suffocating fear and uncertainty that surrounded me is rapidly fading away. Everything just seems clearer now – clearer and freer and absent of fear entirely!
Reflection and Application
On the evening prior to this dream, I met with my A Course in Miracles study partner, and we were reflecting on our recent experience of practicing Workbook Lesson 153, “In my defenselessness my safety lies.” Among other observations, I commented to my friend on how impactful I found the following passage:
“Today our theme is our defenselessness. We clothe ourselves in it as we prepare to meet the day. We rise up strong in Christ, and let our weakness disappear as we remember that His strength abides in us. We will remind ourselves that He remains beside us through the day, and never leaves our weakness unsupported by His strength. We call upon His strength each time we feel the threat of our defenses undermine our certainty of purpose. We will pause a moment as He tells us, ‘I am here.’”
I remarked to my friend, “How wonderful it would be to actually feel His presence with me, to be clothed in my defenselessness and know the certainty of His presence.” I also noted to her that in practicing this lesson, one thing that helped me greatly was understanding that my defenselessness leads naturally from my awareness of my own innocence. If I am truly and eternally innocent, then what need do I have for defenses?
The next morning, prior to my presentation at the office, I woke up from my dream recounted above and felt that familiar urgency to reflect on this dream prior to going into the day.
I could see that the dream, with its darkness and oppressive feelings of foreboding, was a vivid reflection of my current state of mind leading up to my presentation at work. In the dream, the room upstairs, the place in my mind where my highest thoughts should reside, was empty. Likewise, the house I was in, my state of mind, was temporary and not my home. I knew I had to travel somewhere, seeking something, but I didn’t have a clue as to what that was. So I took up my own baggage, my old ways of thinking, and moved forward into the darkness of the unknown.
In that state of mind, the way forward was hard indeed. I have limited eyesight in my waking life, and it was reflected in my dream. I was making my way through the darkness and up the hill, up the uneven steps.
My son Collin was clearly symbolic of the Christ child within me. He came to me at the very darkest hour of my need. He joyfully and easily came up the hill and the steps to where I was almost immobilized by my own fear. He offered to me a coat of lamb’s wool, that I might be clothed in innocence. He helped me understand that I had to reach deep within, go inside the lining, to reach the place of innocence. My concerns about the coat not fitting were dispelled once I stretched myself into it. I was not going to let my fear hold me back.
Within minutes of meditating on this dream, I could feel a change within me. The gathering darkness of my fear about my upcoming presentation was largely, miraculously, dispelled. I understood from the Holy Spirit that I needed to focus on my own true innocence as a child of God, and when I did, the fear simply faded into nothingness.
I rode the train into work that morning with a tremendous sense of peace and confidence. Each time my mind flickered to fear regarding my upcoming talk to the office, I held up that picture in my mind of Collin giving me the coat of lamb’s wool. I could feel the warmth and protection of Christ’s innocence surrounding me.
I carried that mental picture and those feelings with me every step of the way as I walked up to the podium to make my presentation. I said a last silent prayer of thanks to God for His guidance and for leading me back to the awareness of who I really am in truth. I launched into my presentation and never let my mind slip back to the feelings of fear. Later, as I sat in my office, several colleagues came by to thank me for my presentation in the morning. And it was then that I could really begin to reflect on just how powerful are the words of the Course and how God brings light out of the darkness, to the benefit of all!