Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dreaming of God

Originally written in 2008. The first dream was from late 2008, the second from 2005.

I dreamed of God a few days ago, which is odd because I am not much of a religious person.

It was a good dream, in which the Apocalypse was imminent.

It largely played out against a peaceful outdoor backdrop of childhood memories from Northern California--quiet open fields around the town of Fairfield in late afternoon and in sunny 1960s-built neighborhoods. The weather was beautiful, and the only tension present was the shivery feeling of running home to get indoors before rain starts to fall.

The end was coming, and it was time to be inside.

The dream's indoor locations were tiny hardware stores that had already been emptied in preparation for being shuttered. God was a white-haired Caucasian man: old, friendly, spry, and rotund, who was simply shutting everything down.

He would close a shop, tell my childhood self to meet him at the next one, and then I would be off and running—happy, at peace, but anxious to be indoors before the end set in.

Somewhere along the way I became aware that there were other Gods, all of them identically old and white, who were shutting down other old shops as well. It seems that a multitude of universes were all closing up at the same time.

The gentleness of this ending for a very brutal and violent world surprised me when I finally woke, and I struggled to hang on to that sense of kindness. I've been to places on this planet where truly monstrous things have happened, and the thought that the world might end so softly felt odd but welcome once fully awake.

If there was any greater meaning to this dream I can not remember it, though meaning seemed to pervade the air in the dream, much the way it does the world when you are a child. All the things and people and events around you are significant at that age, even if you do not know why exactly they are important. It's a mystery, in which somehow everything everywhere all fits together.

A few years back I dreamt of the devil.

He was a friendly and scruffy young man in his early twenties, with a ragged beard and long dark hair. He wore a black beret, a black Che Guevara t-shirt, and baggy camouflage pants.

He had invented all of the world's ideologies in an attempt to bring peace to mankind. They had all backfired murderously, and he now lived as a drifter in a nameless small town in Central Nevada.

His father, Satan, was a howling lunatic who lived on the fringes of town whenever he wandered in from the desert. He had invented all the world's religions to bring man closer to God, and they had all backfired murderously.

His sorrow over these monstrous failures had driven him to insanity.

The good-natured son attempted to look out for the father when he could, and in the father's more lucid moments, they talked.

I can not recall if they were hiding out in this small town--trying not to screw anything else up with their grand ideas--or if they had been exiled there for their presumption.

Either way, there was a moral in that dream that stayed with me: We humans were meant to figure out our own destinies.

"When I see a mountain like that, I know that there must be a god. When I see a mountain like that, I know that we don't need a god."
~Edward Abbey, Confessions of a Barbarian

What more to say about religion.

I had an epiphany a few months back, not long after moving here.

I was walking out on the coast, looking for the sense of infinity that often comes over me there. What came to mind, however, was an article that I had recently read in Scientific American, which detailed how the arrow of time is an inexorable part of the cellular geometry that makes up space-time itself.

The nature of space seems kinked against the long-term survival of life in our universe. Space-time is flat, apparently, and therefore destined to inflate infinitely into a vast, rarified void.

I was coming to terms with that, resigning myself to the likely fact that our existence would expand like some bubble of heated glass until it eventually diffused into a homogeneous mist, devoid of differentiation or color.

Then I turned around and found myself facing a white cross up on the hill, exactly across the highway from the spot where I was making my peace with the inevitability of oblivion. It was a bit unsettling, as I had not seen a single cross out on the entire Oregon coast until that very moment.

My epiphany then, the feeling that came over me, is that existence does go on. There is a reality beyond this one, and it is eternal.

Other thoughts on this matter:

I read somewhere once that Stephen Hawking said that time has an imaginary component that becomes stronger the further one goes back in time. In other words there was a time when time was less defined. I've also heard that the same thing is true of the far future, when all of the stars will have gone out and even the black holes will have evaporated into a kind of quantum haze.

Maybe time will lose its meaning at that point. Maybe then the past will be just as real as the present. In the absence of time there will be only a long moment, stretching form the vacuous chaos of the beginning, through the light and color of the present, into the black of eternity.

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