I promised my friends over at Kingdom Chasers that I’d write a blog post yesterday when I got back from Inverness but I was so wiped out that I didn’t finish it. Here we are then. Just as a wee note before I forget: I don’t usually remember those deep dark imaginings of the subconscious but there was once a dream I had where I went into a church and it was crumbling around me and the people sat there, ashen and covered in dust and cobwebs. I woke very upset but it has proved an excellent base for a sort-of-story. Enjoy(?)
I dreamed a dream.
The steps were unmoving beneath my feet and the doors looked ready to stare down the gates of hell. I reached out expectantly and they swung open with a muted cry. No one welcomed me within.
I stepped as gently as I could, apprehension rising. The walls towered up into the darkness and somewhere in the rafters it might have been a pigeon cooing. All uniform and attentive, the floral hats were arranged in the pews facing forwards like china dolls and none of them turned. In an alcove, a long-forgotten saint glared, wagging a marble finger.
Shivering, I put one hand out to rest on the back of a pew and ran it absently through the thick dust. My footsteps echoed down the aisle, swallowed by the shadows lingering like storm clouds in the eaves.
It was not lace on their hats as I had first thought but I could not bring myself to touch the cobwebs shrouding the sleeping figures. As I cast my gaze over the rows, I saw that it was not a sleep which subdued them.
Bony hands lay folded attentively on moth-eaten laps. The sickly white of long-dry bones stretched down into buckled shoes. Ghostly faces with empty eyes grinned beneath bonnets and wispy locks. Row after row they sat, bolt upright in the same place that they had always sat and always would.
Then as I came near to the front of the room, I realised that they were all focused politely, intently, silently, on one spot. I turned and behind me the wood rose from the stone slabs, draped in greying cloth with frayed tassels. There, ten feet above criticism, I could not tell whether he had ever been alive. One skeletal hand gripped the edge of the lectern the other reaching out, pointing away into the distance, his jaw hanging open pitifully. My eyes were drawn to the window through which he pointed, where a broken Mary knelt weeping.
I knelt with her, unable to stand. Thunder cloud patterns formed on the slabs, mocking my tears. The cold seeped up through my bones and I felt myself rising to take my seat amongst the bones. A numbness settled as I walked. How can one live among the dead? It can only bring death.
I sat, my head in my hands.
A long time passed.
A whisper brushed my cheek and I looked up. There beneath the pulpit stood a man with a book in his hand and he opened it and spoke.
‘Awake to righteousness and do not sin for some do not have the knowledge of God.’
Then he looked straight through me and into my soul.
‘I speak this to your shame.’
There was a moment’s silence.
Then he closed his book.
The bones seemed to shrink back.
I stood, brushing the webs from my sleeves as he walked towards me. When he held out his hand I took it and we walked together towards those terrible doors. They stood, guarding against the sunshine, forbidding us to leave.
Once I might have been afraid.
We each took one and flung it wide. The light was warm on our skin and the morning bright. And we emerged from among the dead together, running to wake the others.