Just before my first vision dream, I should relate one of my earliest memories. It is segmented and the memory is more of a feeling then a recollection. None-the-less, here is what I know combined with how I remember it. My mother drove us somewhere, and I recall it as having been downtown Fort Worth, but perhaps that had been the start of the errands that morning. I must have been four years old and had the feeling that we were around tall buildings. At any rate, I now know we were on Lancaster. We walked down a sidewalk, and came to a small narrow set of steps going down below ground level.
I had no idea where we were or what we were doing there, but there was a nice lady that was very kind to me. So far, so good. The lady was dressed in a habit and there were other sisters visible. My mother remembered the event and the woman's name was Sister Bea (Beatrice). This was the Tuller School then on Lancaster.
I liked Sister Bea, and liked the place, but I did not like my mother leaving. I was very unhappy, sat by myself and did not want to be with the other kids-- none of whom I knew. The sisters tried to coax me into joining in, but there was nothin' doin'. One sister sat with me for quite some time, and that was okay, but I wasn't budging. Until...
Until they began to sing "Onward Christian Solider." All of the children stood and marched in place, all of the sisters marched in place (with dramatic and comical marching) and finally, I stood and marched in place. Could be it was my first favorite song, and I knew how to sing the refrain. So the sisters had them march around and the sister who had been sitting with me took me marching with her, and (clever sisters) I was marching and singing with everyone.
I don't remember how many times we sang the song, but as an adult, I have a feeling that they sang that song as long as it took for me to join in. It is a very nice memory, and the sense of place and peaceis somehow tied to my Mission City-- not to mention the song.
I don't remember the first time I had a dream which recurred, but I remember being five years of age, having just moved from Fort Worth to Dallas, and waking one morning, with a vision-dream distinctly not fading from memory.
The vision dream stayed with me all morning, consuming my attention. If I had been at least a teenager, I would have sipped my coffee alone in my room an hour or so later and said something out loud to the walls like, "What the heck was that?"
I knew then, that I had the vision dream at least twice before, the familiarity with it was somewhat problematic due to its simplicity. I would later, as an adult, read somewhere that it is also quite a common recurring dream-- a flying dream. It was not that I was flying that made it stand out, it was the sense that I would see the dream again and again until I questioned it, until I analysed it and tried to wring out some mager drop or two of meaning.
I sped over a desert at very low altitude, maybe at two or three feet. I could see little to my right or left, and had no horizon at all. My angle of view was maybe thirty degrees below the horizon ahead. Running into an abrupt high spot in teh landscape simply was not a concern. I did npt have any concerns-- no anxiety, and yet I was not in control. I could have just as easily been lying on my stomach on a cart being pushed by a benevolent other.
On occasion, the sands, and dry, cracked clay passing beneath me was interrupted by a low and flat plant of some kind. These plants, their variety is of no consequence, but image an "airplane plant" usually found in hanging baskets, but one that is growing out of the desert, and has not been watered. It is just before dawn or dusk time, so there is not much color to see. The plant leaves appear more brown than green, but it is not possible to tell if that is due to the low light or due to lack of water. They pass underneath and out of view so quickly, that there is no time to study them. In fact, its is only because I saw so many pass ina flicker of an instant that I have any detail at all to share of them.
If there is any feeling inside me as I observe the soil and occasional plant pass under and behind, it is a very slight sense that I am going somewhere, and that I have a pleasant sort of anticipation. The anticipation is almost silent inside of me as I am uite content to wait. The plants are very much like the birds I described before-- seen from the narrow field of view through the back window of the car. They seem to mark passage of time in an otherwise timeless scene.
If I could have seen the horizon, I could tell you whether it was pre-dawn or dusk, because I know I was speeding east. For that reason, I consider this desert scene, in the map my mind has constructed of Mission City, to be west of the city. Only in hinsdisght and experieence do I view it that way, as I have never been back to the desert in my vision dreams since I arrived at the city.
I suppose it is only an assumption that this first experience represented the beginning, the start of my journey toward the city of mission. But, I speak of worldly things. At age five, if I had possessed the vocabulary, I would have told anyone I might of shared this experience with it was somehow a spiritual representation of a spiritual event which I had found myself experiencing. I told no one.
What I am about to write, I cannot stress strongly enough that I speculate, even now, as to the Source of this first and all subsequent vision dreams. So with that it is speculation and only speculation in mind, I will state now that I speculate that it is the One True God who flew me over the desert when I was five.
Unexplained truths are projects for mankind to resolve and explain. Unexplainable truths are mysteries to be enjoyed (or perhaps endured) as mysteries. I suppose one has to believe in truth, and I do. I suppose one must believe in mystery, and I do. I suppose one has to believe in the (not just a) One True God, the Lord God of Hosts, to find any meaning in anything I am going to write. Then again, perhaps I write of something familiar to many people.
If someone is born with three eyes, all functioning, they may be a freak, and yet also have an advantage-- a gift of sorts. If someone is born with six functioning fingers on each hand, they also may have an advantage, but may also feel ashamed of the difference. For that matter, I know of left-handed people who want to hide the fact that they are left handed because they feel ashamed if others notice. Well, if someone has spiritual visions which impart information or use symbols that the person has no experience or ability to interpret, then hey may well be considered to be gifted, but they are probably more aware that since no one else talks about such things, they are freaks.
I had not learned to read yet, had never heard of visions or mystics, nor knew of anything of prayer beyond what was done in church, at table and at bedtime.
So, at age five, I had nothing to do about the desert vision dream other than "ponder it in my heart."
My brother told me a story a few years later. I was probably about eight or nine. He told me that a friend of his and fellow acolyte at our parish had told the story on himself. I cannot, now, recall the boy's name, but I am going to call him Brice.
Brice had been praying, secretly, for a sign from God about a perceived vocation to the Priesthood. One day, his family was having a garage sale. Where we grew up, their were alleys behind almost all of the houses, and so drive ways and garages were behind the house. garage sales were, therefore, held in alleys.
Brice was bored hanging out with his parents in the garage and wanted to go inside and watch TV. His parents told him to go around and use the key for the front door, because they did want to unlock the door from the garage into the house lest they be overwhelmed with people asking to use the facilities. He took the key and ran around the side yard toward the front where he was shocked to encounter a man there. He ran on past, assuming the man had parked out front and was on his way to the garage, when the man spoke to him.
The man held out a small box toward Brice and said, "Someone told me you ought to have this." Brice stood still and took the box while the man walked around the corner toward the street in front of the house.
When Brice had the box opened, inside was a fine crucifix attached to a chain -- one he could wear around his neck. He closed the box and ran after the man, but when he turned the corner, there was none there at all. He walked out to the street, and saw no sign of the mysterious person who had given him the gift.
That was the first mystical story I had ever heard. as you might imagine, I was fascinated, and stirred up.