of being who I am, a country preacher. The lengthy series of events that precede what I am about to relate are lost to me, but suffice to say that several elements of my life merge to make the following scene possible. There is a gathering happening at church, or perhaps on the porch of the parsonage of a church (P.H.) I formerly pastored. A handful of people are there, including a familiar figure to my left, whom I can’t remember seeing but perhaps it’s my wife. Among several others seated are some current members of our congregation, and arriving late, to the pleasure of all, is S.B., a former church member we haven’t seen for nearly a year. The other significant figure present is my grandmother, seated diagonally across from me, and the occasion is my grandfather’s funeral service. As before S. B's arrival I had just finished outlining the way the day’s events are to proceed, S.B. and another person, a trusted member of our group, get up and excuse themselves so that S. B. can be properly oriented to the state of things. Not wanting to go into the rest of the service until these dear friends return, I suggest that we now take a moment for prayer.
As we bow our heads, I am overcome with a wave of grief for my departed grandfather, and weep silently, recognizing how deeply also I resent my grandfather’s passing. Composing myself, and mindful of the presence of my grandmother, myself, and others who will miss him terribly, I begin to pray as follows:
“ Dear Father, author of Life, as we gather to remember one who is now gone from us, but present to You, we recall that in the story that is told of the beginnings of humanity, we humans were not created to be temporary beings. We appreciate that You have come to restore to us that permanence, but for now, some of us are sorrowful, some of us are hurt, some of us are angry. Today we call upon you to be with us so that over time that sorrow is soothed, the wounds are healed, the anger turned, but not in a way which would in any way diminish the intensity with which we remember Charles H. Clark. It’s in the name of Him who gives us life that we pray. Amen."
In voicing that prayer, in which I could feel or see the emotions that I named (and also the resentment I did not name), I struggled to get the words out. My speech was slurred and difficult, but nonetheless clear. As I woke, I came to consciousness realizing I had been in fact talking in my sleep. This particular phenomenon occurs infrequently, but always in connection with occasions where, in my dream, I am either praying or preaching.
By the way: My grandfather, Charles H. Clark, passed away in October 1963, and his was the first funeral I ever attended. My grandmother outlived him, going to her rest in 1985. I find it significant somehow, in terms of my own search for integrity, that these, as well as people who are now and have recently been in my life, gather together as contemporaries in this particular dream-setting, and that my emotions were as fresh and raw as they were so long ago, when I was just 13 years old. Interestingly, within the past month or two I heard by e-mail from the minister who actually preached that funeral service in 1963.