A cancer patient shared a dream with me. He said he was in bed asleep next to his wife when he became aware that the bed had turned into quicksand and he felt himself sinking. Just as he was about to take his last breath before drowning, a bird came down and lifted him up with its wings – not its talons but it wings. He gasped and woke up. His wife awakened with a start and asked him what was wrong. He said, “Hush…I need to think about this.” After catching the dream before it slipped away, he told her about the dream
I met him sometime later when he was a patient undergoing chemotherapy and he told me the dream. The next day he went home and I didn’t think much more about it.
Months after that I saw his name on the roster at the hospital and headed toward his room. When I got there, his doctor and social worker where coming out of the room. They had tears in their eyes. They told me they had just told the man that their last intervention had not worked; they had just recommended that he go home to hospice care.
I entered the room and sat in silence with the man and his wife for several minutes. When he could speak, he said, “Chaplain, do you remember that dream I told you about?”
“Oh, yes! I’ll never forget that.”
“What I didn’t tell you is that I had that dream months before I even knew I had cancer. From the diagnosis and all though my treatment, it was the thing that gave me the most strength and hope. Even now I know that I am securely in God’s care. I think God gave me that dream to sustain me and I’m so grateful.”
I saw the patient the next day before he left the hospital and asked him a question I had about the dream. “Where the bird’s feathers white? Throughout the history of painting, artists had painted the Holy Spirit as a white bird.”
“Oh, no,” he said. “Every feather was FULL of color!”
When I tried to paint the image, I couldn’t figure out how to paint the moment when the bird came to him in bed. My painting has a female person and is a few seconds later when the person is hanging on and the bird is supporting her.
I am grateful to this man who shared his dream with me.