Imagine an intoxicatingly beautiful day. Bright blue sky, lush green woods, and the dark glassy water of the French River in Ontario. In this scene, I am standing on the Pine Cove Road.
As a child, I can remember the electric thrill I felt when our car turned onto the Pine Cove Road. With all its curves and slopes, it was enough to make you carsick. But that didn’t matter. After a 500-mile trip, it meant we were only a few miles from our destination: Crayhaven—our family cabins on the French River, built by my mother’s parents in 1938.
So picture me standing on a particular curve of that very road. My father and mother are next to me. My sister and brother too. Cousins, Sue and Rick, are nearby, soaking in the soft sunlight. Other cousins, Mary and Cliff, are strolling up the road toward us.
My dad hand-signals all of us to gather close. We wait until Mary and Cliff join our circle. Great emotion sweeps over my father’s face. His eyes fill with tears, his lips tremble a little. After a minute of labored breath, he manages to speak.
“This is the last time…” He winces. A tear rolls down his cheek. “…The last time we will all be here together.” It is a solemn moment. We’ve shared decades of history in our little cabins there. A rush of sorrow and gratitude flood my soul.
Then the dream ended, and I woke up.
Some would call this a “now” message from God. The dream wasn’t surreal like some Alice-in-Wonderland fantasy. The scene involved an actual place I can pinpoint. I knew all the people, and each one looked exactly like they do in real life. It was vividly detailed and in color. And if you’ve read Chapter 10 in my book, you’ll know just how much our summers at Crayhaven mean to me.
I had this dream in the spring of 2009. Several months later, my mother enjoyed what would be her last summer at Crayhaven. She left us the following year.
As it turned out, Cliff passed away too.
Why did God tell me in advance? As I think about it, a single word comes to mind—kindness. He was preparing me for two goodbyes.
I cared for my mother in some of her last days. My father had reached a point of exhaustion, which happens easily with day-in-and-day-out caregiving. My siblings and I encouraged him to go up to Crayhaven for a time a rest.
During those nine days, alone with my dying mother, I received a gift. Admittedly, the days were long. I dispensed medications and rolled her over periodically to lessen her discomfort. I tried to make appealing food. She loved french fries and mint chocolate chip ice cream but only ate tiny portions. Yet in the tedium, I got to take long and loving looks at my beautiful mother. Some would call this “beholding,” or being fully present with someone you love.
I slept in my dad’s spot and often stayed awake, listening to her breathe. One morning she was wide awake at 5 a.m. In the dark, I held her hand under the covers. We talked about all the people we couldn’t wait to see in heaven and chuckled over idiosyncrasies that made some unique. In a way, I was standing with her at the doorway between life and life eternal. She stepped through that door two weeks later.
I also got to say goodbye to Cliff. I traveled to Colorado Springs where he lived, because I was speaking at a women’s retreat in the area. Time seemed to slow, as Cliff shared about his extended hospital stay. He felt so weak he couldn’t even watch a baseball game on TV. But in that sterile, quiet, hospital room, the presence of God came and filled the space. The glory of God enveloped a dying man. Cliff said, “I’d go through this whole cancer thing again just to experience that.”
In my last post, I wrote about the idea of developing our spirit. I mentioned a dream about a man with a very large spirit. His body concealed his spirit like vapor trapped in a plastic bag. Toward the end of the dream, the man’s spirit extended beyond his body from his chest upward. Then I heard the Holy Spirit say, dreaming is a way to enlarge the spirit.
When we receive visions and dreams from God, we enter a realm of the Holy Spirit where He can show us things. He can warn, prepare, guide, teach, comfort and lead us in ways that transcend human understanding. Consider all the dream stories in the Bible and throughout history! The point is to pay attention, write down details, and seek the Lord for interpretation and application.
I knew from the Pine Cove Road Dream that God was preparing me for inevitable changes. And when the time came to say goodbye to my mother and Cliff, I saw their deaths with the eyes of my spirit. God had prepared me. And though I wept hard tears, the “peace that passes understanding” enlarged my spirit and covered the sorrow in my soul.
Have you had this kind of experience—a communion with God that carries you through times of sorrow?
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