The Dream of the Temple

Somewhere I wrote of a recurring dream that took place within an ancient temple:
 

In the first experience of the dream, it was the temple of Mars Ultor, the God of Vengeance and War. When the god commanded the warriors, who were my friends, to “Go Forth!”, I was consumed by sorrow at the knowledge that they would die in battle. But sorrow quickly gave place to so great a rage at the indifference of Mars toward the lives of my brothers that I myself murdered him as he sat on his throne. On that day the blood of Mars flowed from the temple.

In a second experience of the dream, the temple belonged to Apollo Abaeus and at his command to “Go Forth!”, I beheld the warriors depart swiftly in every possible direction. So urgent was their mission that there was not even time for me to ask them what they were doing. And so I asked Apollo himself and he told me that he was sending my friends forth to every corner of the Universe and even to places unknown to the gods so that at least some of them might survive and produce children.

In the final experience of the dream, I myself was the priest of the temple of Sol Invictus, but this time the command did not come from a god. Rather, the temple guard who lived with me in the temple precinct commanded me to “Go Forth! Be Seen by the Family!” As it was not the custom of the guard to command the priest, I understood how important this was. I left the temple unaccompanied and made my way to the Family in order to bring them hope in the moment when they had most need of it. When at last I returned through the grove that surrounded the temple, a thylacine pup fell from above as I passed beneath the last tree. The pup cried and clung to me, so I carried him with me into the temple and raised him as my son. The tree he fell from was revealed as the Sacred Tree that sanctified the entire temple grove and even the temple itself. The pup was Sol Invictus clothed in Earthly form.

[Regarding dreams: I’ve found that the meaning I extract from my dreams changes and evolves, especially in the case of recurring dreams. Sometimes the benefit of experience or reflection sheds light on aspects that were obscured previously. His dictis, dreams are just dreams. They are entirely and only what we make of them.]

~BT Waldbillig
October 15, 2017

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Happiness of the Present Moment

Like a lot of people, as I get older I find it more and more difficult to simply be present to life. My mind is always elsewhere — making plans, obsessing over mistakes, longing for something different or better, thinking about tomorrow or remembering yesterday. And while my meditation practice is sketchy at best, it’s still a helpful remedy for ever-errant thoughts.

When I was actively engaged in the public ministry of Christian priest, I was never more present to life than when I stood before the altar or sat in the confessional box. In moments like those, there was nothing else in the universe other than the present. These days I sometimes have a similar experience when I sing the puja chants with my Buddhist friends gathered around a simple shrine.

I’ll bet all of us experience something approximating true presence when we see a stage play, cheer at a baseball game, or hear a live concert. Hopefully we can find ways to become more present every day to whatever life brings us. And perhaps once we’re really present to life — with its joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains, successes and failures — we’ll be happier and more authentically human.

~BT Waldbillig
March 5, 2017

Habitare Fratres in Unum

At one time, most of North Africa and the Near East was Christian. Today, the remnants of those ancient Christian communities struggle to survive amid dire economic conditions, brutal dictators, the scourge of war, and religious zealots determined to exterminate anyone who disagrees or disobeys them.

When I was a seminary student at the Angelicum in Rome, my classmates included men and women from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey, as well as various countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. My Iraqi classmate, one of the kindest and most joyful people I knew in Rome, was assassinated in Mosul just a couple of years after returning home as a priest.

It’s worth remembering that while extremist groups have a particular hatred for Jews and Christians, they don’t hesitate to torture, murder, or enslave fellow Muslims who oppose them.

The history of the Children of Abraham — Jews, Christians, and Muslims — is full of aggression, hatred, violence, and bloodshed. But that’s obviously not the whole story. Those religions also have the capacity to bring people hope, peace, and joy. That’s why Jews, Christians, and Muslims — along with people of other faith traditions and even atheists — have to work to together to confront the challenges facing our world today.

~BT Waldbillig
April 22, 2015