Story time. I've been a rabid atheist for years, perhaps agnostic more recently. When I say rabid, I mean it. I've been the type of person to cause believers to give up the ghost.
I've had some really difficult shit going on in my life recently. It happened to be the case that at the same time, I've been wrestling with my beliefs. For context, I was a believer for a good part of my young life. You can say that I went "wayward" when I lost my father at a young age.
I had a very bad day yesterday. This day culminated with me having a few cigarettes at around midnight, standing outside by myself. For whatever reason, I prayed for the first time in probably thirteen or fourteen years. It wasn't a gentle prayer, nor did I use polite language. I asked for a sign. I said, "You are supposed to be able to do anything. So destroy my doubt. Just fucking do it. Send me a sign."
Today, I received a text from a strange number. It turns out this was not a stranger. I had deleted her from my contacts eleven years ago. When she explained who she was, I recalled. I knew her from my church years. She'd been a good friend to me during that time, but we, again, had not spoken in the last eleven years. She moved to the other side of the country and got married.
She text me today to tell me that last night she had a dream with me in it. She said that there was no narrative to this dream but that she felt God, and she saw me struggling. She said I was struggling, running. She woke from the dream in the early morning, 3:13 according to her alarm clock, and she prayed for me. She said the dream caused her a lot of anxiety, and so today she went about trying to track down my phone number. She had to go through a mutual friend to get it, just so that she could text me to tell me she had this dream, and to ask if I was okay.
I haven't seen, heard, spoken with or thought about this girl in a decade. I was skeptical at first, naturally. So I pushed her on the issue. I said, "You need to tell me the truth. You used this dream as a pretense because you wanted to start a conversation. You moved or something, and you're just trying to reconnect and this was a clever way to justify you being the one to reach out."
She said very plainly, "Chiro, no offense, but I haven't thought about you in years. I think this is as strange as you do. I just felt really concerned after the dream and I felt that I needed to see how you were doing."
I asked for a sign. A person who I haven't spoken to or thought about in a decade has a dream - that night - about me struggling that causes her to feel the need to reach out to me, despite the fact she has not thought about me in an equally long time. When she first opened the conversation she called it a God dream. She couldn't explain what that meant, but that she'd only had a few in her life with that kind of immediacy. When she told me this, she had no idea about the prayer I had put out the night before. She was just telling me that she needed to make sure I was okay.
This story itself is a bit like trying to get a dream experience across to someone. You really can't do it. I know there are simple, conventional explanations for this. I suppose it would take you having lived our lives, having the context for our relationship and how estranged it was, to understand just how truly nonsensical it would have been for her to think about me. Much less, to have a dream about someone and have to work to make contact to talk about it. Imagine you have a dream about someone you knew but have not spoken to for eleven years. You might think, "Oh, that's strange." But what would it take for you to have to do work, potentially embarrass the fuck out of yourself, to go through another person and explain the situation with them in order to get my phone number. She is not a Bible-thumping nut bag, not even close.
Anti, I know what you're going to want to say to this. I could probably do it too. But man, I'm starting to wonder if this is something like what they mean when they say someone has a religious experience, or they make arguments from that standpoint. The significance of it is almost intransmissable via words. I couldn't possibly make someone understand the significance of this. Maybe I'm delusional, but I don't tend to be the delusional type. The prayer I sent out that night was a frustrated mix of authentic emotion and sarcasm. It was full of irony, but a sad kind. Did I expect an answer? No. But that was the reason to do it. Because I was angry.