The Brotherhood begins a series of autobiographical dream accounts most pertinent to advanced calendar study. Calendar cycles often extend beyond the duration of our mortal lives. Dreams told by testimony reflect our sprit and soul. The Bible and church teach the afterlife. Faith in the Holy Ghost is the supernatural.
My first sojourn across the great abyss (Luke 16:26) that divides living people from the intangible world belonging to the dead came at the tender age of 13-years. On a chilly December night, some two or three fortnights before Christmas, I saw in dreaming state spirits of the dead for the first time. Two other neighborhood friends and I had gone camping by ourselves. We rode bicycles to the golf course a few miles away. G. was my age and K. was a year older. Bordering the first tee and practice range, there was a strip of woods before reaching the four-lane highway. At the end of the driving range is a large cemetery. Hundreds of union brothers rest in neat rows. Simple white headstones give their names, birth and death dates. We took the narrow dirt service road that led between the golf course and graveyard to reach the fenced wooded area. We played regularly in the nearby woods. Finding lost golf balls was a favorite activity. We resold used golf balls for clubhouse snack money.
We usually walked or rode bikes on the service road where hearses and funeral processions were common. A small shack kept chairs, cloth sunshades, some digging equipment and padded ropes. There was a single cold-water faucet next to the shack. On the other side of the fence, a trail led into the woods. Our campsite was a small clearing over a hundred feet away. The path continued a slightly less distance through thick foliage until ending at a swampy pond. We packed coffee, sandwiches, beans or Vienna sausages and drinks. Old cooking pots and pans from home were a necessity with a campfire. We brought at least one small tent and blankets for cozy sleeping.
We arrived shortly before sunset. Overcast skies threatened our fun. We were on Christmas holiday vacation from school. I remember looking forward to Christmas morning. I was not aware of the winter solstice at 13; however recollect the night to be either December 22 or 23. We collected some more firewood for the pile left since our last visit. We then built a fire and cooked supper. After a few hours, a light rain began to dampen our camping enthusiasm. We huddled in an old pup tent in our attempt to wait it out. Rain in Central Florida brings mosquitoes, which were in abundant supply so close to the swamp. Nobody wanted to go home. We were “men” and planned to tough it out for the whole night. We were all miserable by midnight.
The little pup tent soon was sopping wet inside and out. We burrowed into our sleeping bags to avoid the mosquito onslaught and I tried to sleep. About 2 am, I decided to give up the stinking, muggy tent in favor of sleeping outside. The rain had subsided and I pulled my damp sleeping bag from the tent. Our warm campfire was now smoldering rubble. The ground around me was soaked. I spread out the remaining wet wood and threw the sleeping bag on top. I climbed in, pulling the canvas end piece over my face. Tired and cold, I drifted off to the most traumatic ghost story of my life.
I was standing on the woods side of the fence facing the graveyard in the dream. I looked to my left and saw several white sails moving up and down. They randomly jumped into the air, maybe 20 feet or more. When they came down, they never quite touched the ground. I saw one, then many, all dancing up to the sky in rapid, random order. I had no idea what I was witnessing. I found the scene most beautiful. Vertical sheets (Acts 10:11, Acts 11:5) oscillated up and down against a silhouette outline of the orange grove across the way. Above the neatly ordered rows of tombstones, these sail-shapes seemed large, white to grey in color and two-dimensional. Sometimes they hovered individually above the grave. I looked across the cemetery and to the left. I saw hundreds. They would remind you of a lightly winded boat sail. I was seeing undulating, vertical squares or rectangles on edge.
I had a joyous feeling watching them. They seemed oblivious to me and I became mesmerized. I could not, at any time during this dream move my head, or field of view, toward the right side. I was only able to look left and back toward center. The whitish sails dropped sometimes near the ground, budging horizontally in pulsating, staccato movements. An irony presented itself. Where I could not turn my dreaming head toward the right side, I could not see any of them moving to the left side. Only in short, bursting successive steps did they move right. They never bumped into one another. They never went through one another. As I peered over the fence in the dream, I began to crouch down in fear. I knew that any might become aware of me watching. The spectacle continued to unfold before me. I finally turned my head to the right in the dream. Just as I saw the small storage shack, I awoke.
I reflected on the dream for an hour or more. I had seen something marvelous and very rare. Ideas of ghosts never entered my conscious thoughts. It was like seeing a strange animal for the first time. Surprised, amazed and a bit afraid, this dream would lay foundations in my religious life. I fell back to sleep.
The next morning I was still laying on the woodpile when I awoke. G. and K. soon awoke and we made coffee. While G. packed away camp, K. and I headed for the water faucet to wash up. I remember walking up to the fence and suddenly the entire dream came flooding back to me. Apprehensive about telling the dream, K. and I proceeded to wash the pans and utensils in silence. I then decided to talk about my dream. I began to speak and told K. what I had seen. About midway through the fourth sentence, K. straightened from the pan he was washing. His eyes grew to the size of saucers and he exclaimed in a loud voice, “My God, don’t say that, Man! You are freaking me out!” Startled at his reaction, I stopped abruptly. He said more quietly, “My church teaches that stuff.” With a meek, trembling voice, I replied. “Well, what church do you go to?” He answered, “Church of God.” I knew I was about to start Lutheran confirmation classes. I never spoke about this experience with K. again, nor did I mention it during any confirmation classes. On those rare occasions when I did choose to tell this story, I usually became the target of obvious scrutiny and ridicule. Scorn is the fate endured by God’s witness.
Much of the original golf course is developed. A church bearing the name of the former union brotherhood now stands upon the property. May the interred brothers always Rest In Peace.
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