I miss my grandpa and grandma.
Chances are you’ve uttered this line a few times yourself. When someone has a profound impact on your life, you miss them as soon as they leave you. The feeling remains a year later. And five years later. And ten years later. And twenty years later. You’re thankful for the time you had with them, but you never really get comfortable with their absence. My Grandma Siver passed away almost 14 years ago. The end of this month marks 21 years since my Grandpa Siver died. And I STILL miss them like crazy. My memories of my grandparents sometimes feel like they happened yesterday. Yet at the same time, they feel distant, as if they happened in another lifetime.
I’ve had two dreams about my grandparents that were extremely vivid, including one recently. This stands out to me because none of my other dreams have ever been this vivid. I want to share them with you, in part to see if I’m nuts. Maybe you will call me nuts after reading this. Or maybe you’ll see a deeper meaning in them like I do. Either way, I feel the need to share.
The first was one I had right after my grandma died in 2000. Our whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins) was standing outside somewhere, when out of nowhere, up walks Grandma. We were shocked, but managed to utter exclamations like “We thought you were dead!” and “Where did you come from?” Grandma said something to the effect of “I’m okay. I’m fine.”
Following that encounter, we were all walking with Grandma in the halls of this enormous, stately building, which looked a little like Grand Central Station in New York. People were hustling and bustling all around us, and it seemed like we were trying to help Grandma find a certain room or location.
I tailed along at the back of the pack. While we were walking down a busy hallway, I thought I saw Grandpa out of the corner of my eye. I looked to my left, but he wasn’t there. We kept walking, weaving in and out of the throngs of people. Once again, I thought I saw Grandpa. My eyes darted to the left, and there he was, standing by the wall. He gave me a wink and a smile as our group kept walking forward. I kept looking back at him and he kept looking at me with his trademark grin.
The second dream happened recently. It’s much shorter than the first, but just as meaningful. I remember walking along a sidewalk with my head down. I could hear a man walking towards me, so I looked up….. it was my grandpa, and he had this surprised look on his face. He was shocked to see me all grown up; I was shocked to see him alive.
What do these dreams mean? Are they a coping mechanism? Are they a byproduct of my imagination? Or are they a sign – a hint at the existence of heaven? I honestly don’t know. For me, it adds to my already-overflowing flood of theological questions.
The world has a misconception about Christians. People think we’ve got it all figured out. God, Jesus, heaven – our beliefs are firmly set, perfectly wrapped in a neat little package, right? Not so much. For many of us, we experience tremendous doubt during our journey. It’s not about turning atheist, but rather more like not feeling God’s presence in your life and attempting to find proof that He does indeed exist. This journey of detachment and difficulty is sometimes referred to as a “dark night of the soul” (not to be confused with THE Dark Knight, Batman). The phrase likely originated with St. John of the Cross, who wrote a poem about it in the 16th century. “Dark night of the soul” sounds depressing (it is at times), but it’s strangely necessary for some Christians during their trek to discover understanding of their own beliefs.
One of the most devout, influential Christians of our era, Mother Teresa, experienced this “dark night.” She faced incredible doubt for decades, sometimes even doubting God’s existence. There’s a book titled Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light which guides readers through her spiritual angst.
Right now, I’m struggling with a dark night myself. I’m facing doubt, I’m attempting to attach answers to questions, and I’m trying to discover my life’s purpose. I’m not one to seek sympathy for obstacles I face; I just need people to know that the past several years have been an all-out war to align my spiritual side with my logical side. If you can picture two lines of medieval soldiers racing towards each other, screaming at the top of their lungs, then you start to see this conflict is more than just a friendly game of Red Rover.
To put it bluntly, it often sucks to be both a nerd and a Christian. You have this insatiable need to consume information, dissect scientific theory, and come to logical conclusions. You want a believable explanation for everything. Yet at the same time, you also have the desire to grow as a person, find your purpose, serve God, and serve others. You yearn to discover that life is so much bigger than paying bills and doing laundry. You go on a quest in the hope of knowing that the end of this life is not the end of the road, but merely the first leg of the trip. When you combine the two battling journeys (like I have), you end up with one single journey where you feed your soul with every bit of knowledge you can get your hands on, in the hope it will be the wiper fluid for your dirty windshield, inevitably helping you see your life and your God in a clearer way.