Sunday, September 11, 2011

I had a dream

A little over ten years ago, as I was preparing to go to college, I had a dream. In this dream I was given an unjust traffic ticket (by an officer who was played by David Spade, for some reason), and managed to go to court and get it thrown out. Officer Spade, who had never lost a case before, was quite enraged because the whole situation made him look bad and made him lose his perfect record, but justice was served.

Then in this dream, I was visiting local churches in my beginning weeks of college, trying to find a community of believers where I could be at home. I settled on a vibrant little church with an active college group, but soon ran into a serious problem: Officer Spade was also an active member of the group, and he refused so much as to look at me.

Apparently, in my dream, this went on for some time, and it soon became clear that the tension was getting unbearable for me. I would never be at home in the church if there was no peace. Finally, perhaps during a Sunday school discussion when we were all sitting in a circle, I got out of my chair and got down on my knees before Officer Spade, who kept his face turned away from me.

“David,” I said, “I know you’re hurt, and I’m sorry. I wish there was anything I could do to make it up to you, but I know I can’t. All I can do is beg you to forgive me. I was wrong [a lie, interestingly], and I am greatly sorry.”

From where I knelt in tears, I heard Officer Spade say my name, and I looked up to see him standing up and extending his arm out to me. I stood up and met his embrace, and the hug that the dream ended with made me feel happy for hours the next morning when I awoke.

Justice was not served in the dream, but peace was. As a young, idealistic eighteen-year-old, I decided peace was enough. God was in the justice department; he had called us to be a people of peace.

A month later, of course, “justice” and “peace” became rival buzz-words in the political chaos that erupted three weeks into my freshman year of college, ten years ago today. The world seemed to go mad in these first ten years of my adult life (maybe it always was), and I found myself unable to think clearly in the no-man’s-land between all the entrenched armies I was fluttering between: the small Southern town where I was from and Paris, France where my family moved, the evangelical Christian organization I was a part of and the African American political organization I joined, the intelligentsia in my classes and the homeless folks I met on the street. Justice and peace became equally unreachable ideals.

But today, ten years later, I remembered that dream this morning. There’s still a young idealist buried in me somewhere who wants to believe that it is still possible to be a people of peace, even when justice is unclear.

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