I walked into an elegant, chic clothing store, circa 1950. Plush carpet, elaborate lighting; tufted round benches and armchairs awaited the shopper while attendants brought the latest in fashion and design. Taken back and overwhelmed by the glitz and glam of the store, I focused on my purpose for being there. I had to make a decision; Easter was only a few days away and I needed a dress.
Dreams have a powerful effect on us. These early moments of a dream I had a week ago – a few weeks after Easter this year – have stayed with me. Many times I have reflected on this dream and pondered its significance. As you continue to read it, you may think I’m crazy but I can’t shake the feeling that I need to share it with you.
As I ascended the few steps into the store, an older couple passed as they strolled to the exit. The man looked quite sophisticated in his tailor-made Frank Sinatra suit, a Fedora angled ever so slightly on his head. His wife’s style coordinated with sophistication. Her fitted suit was the same hue as her polished pumps and tilt hat. Pure white gloves completed the ensemble.
A Voice spoke, “Remember that couple; notice their clothes. That’s going to be significant later. They’ve already made their choice; they’re ready for Easter.”
I selected a few dresses to try on in the dressing room. Consistent with the aura of 1950’s chic, a variety of people waited in a lounge area of couches and armchairs outside the dressing rooms.
The Voice spoke again, “Look at these people – each of them. Think about them before you enter the fitting room and make your choice.”
I first noticed a young man on the couch; he leaned forward, his focus on a young woman in the chair sitting perpendicular to the couch. They appeared to have just met as they joked and flirted with one another. They didn’t care about Easter; they didn’t care about new clothes. Their concerns didn’t exceed what was going on in the moment. And for right now, the moment was each other.
A young man waiting with his older parents next drew my attention. The older man’s beard and the yarmulke upon his head revealed them to be Jewish. The parents were pleading with their son; they wanted him to celebrate Passover with them. More secular than his religious parents, the son had never grown a beard. According to the traditions, this refusal prevented him from joining the celebration. The father tried to convince the young man to wear a beard-looking mask crocheted by the mother. The parents hoped the young man would appear to believe on the outside, even if his heart didn’t believe.*
A man lounging in the corner to my left was the final person in the room. I turned my focus to him and saw his focus was on his iPod. (A man can have an iPod in the 1950’s in a dream.) Although he wore earbuds to listen to the music, I realized his song selection also played through the store intercom. I stopped to listen to the music and heard the chorus to, “Do You Hear the People Sing?” I instantly recognized the popular song from the musical Les Miserables; a song of freedom, of refusal to succumb to slavery, of a battle fought with martyr’s blood, a song of hope. Hope that comes not in the horrors of this life but shines through the promise of life after our time on earth.
The Voice said of the man in the chair, the man listening to music, “He represents grace.”
I had taken in my surroundings; I had seen what I needed to see. I proceeded into the fitting room to try on my Easter dress choices.
Alone in my fitting room, I listened to the Voice speak a final time, “Those are the four choices. You can be like the first couple whose life focuses entirely on outward appearances. Yes, they’ll be at church on Easter morning and they will look splendid. But the Message will never penetrate past their outer sophistication.
Or, you can be like the second couple who will never see beyond this moment. They will have fun now but that will be all. They won’t even realize Easter is here until it has passed.
Or, you can be like the Jewish family. They’ll spend their lives so wrapped up in ancient traditions that they’ll miss the beautiful, personal fulfillment of those traditions.*
Or, you can be like the final man. Grace can pour into your life as the music flowed through the earbuds into his mind; grace can pour out of your life as the music poured out through the intercom system for anyone who would stop to listen.
Which is it? What’s your choice? What will you wear when resurrection morning comes?
"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10).
* The requirement of a beard for Jewish men varies between different sects of Judaism based on their varying interpretations of Leviticus 19:27. The Jewish family in this dream isn't a criticism of Judaism or Jews, a belief system and people group I care about passionately. The representation in the dream is against the practice of rituals and traditions that have lost meaning to those who perform them - a phenomenon experienced throughout Christianity as well.