I was about the age of seven. Mom needed to find a church she could take us to on foot, that she liked close to home, it was my older sister by a year, my younger sister two years under me, and my little brother. She took us to a different one every Sunday for about a month. I remember the one two blocks away, because it has brick pillars across the front of the building from one end to the next, after you went up two steps. When we got inside it looked like a small Matinee, with three sections and even a stage. It wasn’t too crowded in there. People were shouting Amen and Hallelujah, and fanning. It was a hot day. As my mom got us seated I could hear this preacher on stage shouting, “murderers, adulterers, thieves, liars, fornicators, you all going to burn in hell!” When I heard that I suddenly remembered, I had told a lie the day before to keep from getting a whipping. He went further to say, “you can’t hide from God, God knows wherever you are. There is no cave deep enough to hide you away from God”. My goodness, I thought I’m going to burn in hell? Then it occurred to me, nobody pays much attention me. They’re always leaving me left out. Only my sister grabs me to play the games, otherwise I’m mostly playing alone. I thought, nobody likes me much, so maybe God didn’t see me when I told that lie. It was really bothering me, I was really scared to death, and nervous. I had to figure this out. Burning in hell? I don’t remember hearing anything else while we sat in that church. When it was time to leave, I saw my mom speaking with people and showing us to them, and I needed to get her attention, so when I got the chance I grabbed her by the hand. By then we were on the brick porch with the pillars. I said “mama, mama, she said “what”. I said, “how can God see all the people, all the time.” She gave me a deep look and then she explained, “well God is spirit, and spirit is everywhere.” I said, spirit? She said, yes, and then went on saying some things way over my head, so knowing I wasn’t keeping up with her, I said, “oh never mind ma”. But when I took a good around and saw people going different ways, doing different things, driving, sitting on porches, kids running, chasing each other, I thought maybe God is the air. Well, that didn’t stick but for a short while. I decided for myself that God was a big ball of eyes, one eye looking at one person. So that’s a really big ball of many, many eyes.
I’m a kid, I’m in school, and when I come home I do homework, eat, watch TV or go somewhere and play. My mind can’t always be on God. When it was time to go to bed though things got quiet and I began to worry if I did something that day that God didn’t like. I’d worry until I was too sleepy to worry, and one night I was trying to stay awake, maybe it was Christmas, I don’t remember why, but when my eyes got too tired to stay awake, I thought about that eye watching me. I knew that eye had to get tired, maybe it has to sleep too.
Sometime at the age of about nine, I had a dream: I was walking in this very black dirt bare-foot, the dirt looked so clean and rich, I can remember how my toes felt in it, as I looked up noticing the white fence I’m walking along side of, it was glowing, like a neon light. On the other side of the fence there was all this clean dark green grass, so beautiful it was, that I could see it blowing in the direction of the wind, like a river. Then I looked and far ahead of me was this forest full of trees, but before that, to the right of me was a white house. It wasn’t so big. As I came close to it, noticing it was the only house around, I saw the gate and opened it. As I walked toward the steps I noticed the flowers, all kind of flowers, turned to face me, like they wanted to see me go up the steps. I then wrung the doorbell. A TWIST. I was suddenly in the kitchen just finishing the dishes, and washing the kitchen table when I heard the doorbell ring. I threw the rag into the sink and ran to open the door as if I was expecting someone. When I opened the door there was no one to see, but something entered my house. Love came in. I felt it go through me, and settle inside me as it continued to fill my house. I could also feel the company of peace and grace, a comfort with a calm so powerful, I felt completely rested. I wanted to fall asleep, but I didn’t want to miss what was happening. I thought if I fall asleep when I awake it will be gone, but I couldn’t help it. It felt as if all the love in the whole world was in one place. I slept. When I woke up, I could see I was the last one to wake up, my other sisters and my brother were out of their bunk-beds. I could smell breakfast cooking, and I could hear talking in the kitchen. I got up and went into the kitchen and I immediately interrupted everybody shouting “I just had the most beautiful dream in the whole wide world”, and a second time, “I just had the most beautiful dream in the whole wide world”. So they asked, what did you dream about? I said, it was this house and a fence, the grass was so green and something happened, but then I couldn’t find the words to describe what it was. I kept trying until I lost their interest, then I said “oh never mind”. But I never forgot that dream.
I have to say, it didn’t occur to me to mention it to anyone all these years, though I often thought about it, until I applied for this corresponding class for writing children’s books. They asked me to write in 350-450 words something that truly happened in my childhood, and this came right up. I thought the least amount of words possible, the better I’d be. They loved it and assigned me to someone but I never really succeeded through it. I wasn’t prepared at the time. So I’m sharing it now with you.
There is something else I remember about that dream. That was when I stop worrying about God.