My son’s behavior was making me unbearably anxious, and I prayed almost without ceasing. It was hard for me to focus at work and sleep at night.
It was January 1997. Jesse had been paralyzed from the chest down two years earlier by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We had been devastated, but I had faith that God would heal him if he received all the help he needed. To that end, we used every resource that church and society had to offer. We’d been in family therapy for over two years. Jesse saw a psychologist weekly for individual therapy, and a psychiatrist monthly, for medication. He was in the church youth group, on a wheelchair-sports team, and in an independence training program with several other disabled young people.
That week, Jesse’s therapist told me he was afraid that Jesse would kill himself but didn’t know what to do. I didn’t either. We were helpless.
Two days before Jesse’s second suicide attempt, a dream brought me comfort and hope.
I was in a small, simple bedroom in a retreat center that overlooked a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. A religious publication was lying on a wooden dresser beneath the window. I leafed through it and was surprised to see large blank spaces on some of the pages.
I was moved to write something in an empty space, so I took the publication to the bed, lay down on my stomach facing the window, and started to write. I didn’t know until I wrote the words what I would say.
The first line I wrote was: `I saw the sun come shining“, and the next, “from the west down to the east. . . ” As I realized what I was writing, I was filled with a powerful sense of meaning that brought tears. “I saw the sun come shining. . . .. We shall be released.”
As I wrote these words, a vision appeared where the ceiling had been. The sky opened, the sun shone with incredible brightness. There was beautiful music—someone singing the refrain to Dylan’s song, “I Shall Be Released” with altered words. Dylan’s words are, “I saw my light come shining, from the west down to the east. Any day now, any day now, I shall be released.“ These words were, “I saw the sun come shining, from the west down to the east. I saw the sun come shining, we shall be released.”
I covered my face with my hands and sobbed with grief, joy and a powerful sense of meaning. An image arose of someone imprisoned in a nice room. I realized they couldn’t be happy because God didn’t intend for people to live this way. I was still sobbing as the dream ended.
Despite the immense sadness in the dream, I was comforted by the powerful sense of meaning I felt and the hopeful promises I saw in the imagery—that there was a place for my writing in a religious publication and that, through writing, I would find deep meaning.
Recently, it struck me that the promises I saw in this dream are being fulfilled. Minding the Light is a religious publication with a place for my stories, and writing them has been healing and deeply meaningful.