I've never had the classic nightmare of finding myself in a public place with no clothes on, but recently I had a real-life experience that came close.
Last June, I was visiting my mother at Ross Place (an independent living seniors' residence) in Victoria. I went to the monthly birthday party with my mother, since she is a June baby.
During the festivities, one of the activity workers, Chelsea, came over to chat. "So you're the one!" she said. "We were all crying, you know."
My favourite ministry is inner healing -- helping people re-visit their past with Jesus, who can transform our hurts into gifts. I've done a lot of work on myself as well, and found it fruitful.
About a month before my visit, I realized that I had never re-lived my birth. I had gone through my life in utero and my childhood, but never the actual birth, even though I had often heard about it and thought about it. The doctor had predicted a caesarean section because my mother's pelvis was so small, but the midwife was determined to prove him wrong. After a long labour, the actual delivery lasted for two hours. I was born blue and not breathing.
Re-living the experience gave me a new understanding of the term "fetal distress". However, when I passed out, something unexpected happened. I found myself in heaven with Jesus and my father. Jesus was holding me in his arms, and handed me to my delighted father to hold. The father-vacuum in my life was finally filled, and I no longer felt abandoned.
This experience makes no temporal sense. My father was still alive at the time -- as a matter of fact, he was stuck in a troop train in the same town, unaware that his wife was giving birth on his birthday. However, it made perfect sense emotionally. When I was little and knew nothing of the complications of ethical dilemmas and divine wrath, I proclaimed confidently, "I have two fathers in heaven." We always assumed that was the fruit of my grandmother's efforts to teach me the Lord's Prayer, but perhaps it went deeper than that.
The next time I phoned my mother on a Saturday morning, I told her what had happened. In the afternoon, she went on a bus outing with other residents, and told the story on the way. "I thought it was just a nice story," she said, "but all of a sudden I became really emotional." The emotion was contagious.
It had never occurred to me that my mother would mention this to anyone. I tried to shrug it off, and distracted Chelsea with an account of the healing properties of oil of lavender, with graphic descriptions of my fungal infections.
Later, I took a deep breath, went up to her, and said, "I guess we have to be friends now. You've seen into my crevices."