My dreams last night were painful. They switched so sharply and quickly between scenes and context that it felt someone was flashing bright lights into my eyes, and eventually I woke up at 4, exhausted and with a sore throat. I got out of bed and instantly felt freezing cold. Not a good sign - my house is usually somewhat cold, but the heaters are still on from when my family was here visiting. And either way, I am only cold when I'm sick. Another bad sign.
On my way upstairs to get some essential oils (I get sick so rarely, and give my set away so frequently that they're never by my bedside) I started shivering uncontrollably. I thought about turning on a fireplace, but that felt like too much effort. So I grabbed my swim trunks and walked across the street to the gym, hoping to find warmth in the steam room.
I've been in steam rooms that are cold, just right, and oppressive (the latter usually comes when someone walks in and nonchalantly pretends to spray the wall and sprays the temperature gauge. Not cool). But as I walked in this time I felt like I was being ever so slightly scalded.
No. I felt like I was being scalded, and it was more than slight. I thought maybe I was just really sensitive to the heat since I was so cold, so tried to sit down. Within a minute or two, my throat was burning, my arms and legs were burning... so I stood up and again and felt like I was walking through water just hot enough that you'd take your finger out and yell. I walked out to splotchy redness all over my exposed skin. I was definitely warm enough. Had I stayed any longer, I think the result would have been a more lasting burn.
I came home, got our respiratory blend and put a diffuser on a shelf above my bed. But I'm not sure if I want to go back to sleep. Part of me wants to suck it up and go to the temple for my shift, but having a brother with leukemia has made me cognizant of the need to not spread illness. I can't go be around people who are serving God and potentially make them sick... especially when we've been asked not to. School is a different story - you're expected to go unless you're bedridden. But the temple...
The other issue is the dreams. The last time I remember being so dramatically affected by a dream was a long time ago - and that dream was crazy strange. I felt like sharing it, so I will.
I was fighting a battle in almost complete darkness. The weapons, were striking... in my right hand I held a high-powered directional flashlight. In my left, a mirror. Each of my comrades had something that generated light as well for their own weapons. You shine the light on an enemy, and after enough exposure, he completely disappears. But the other side also had the same types of weapons - lasers, flashlights, massive flood lamps. Hence the mirror was my shield, shining the light back into the fray.
Amid the intense emotional rush of the battlefield, there was another powerful feeling of urgency. I didn't know why we were fighting, but I knew what would happen if we lost. The sun was going to rise sometime soon, and all of us knew somehow that if we hadn't won the battle by that time, the rising sun would obliterate everyone. Winning was the only option. Hence we fought as best we knew how - some trying to create stronger sources of light, some, like me, fighting hand-to-hand.
I heard a scream and turned to my left. There was a group of enemies who had grabbed someone and were dragging her toward a massive box. They opened the door, tossed her inside, there was a brilliant flash of light that burst from the seams... and she was instantly gone. Instantly. Not in minutes or hours or seconds. Instantly. We had nothing like that, and from the intermittent flashes I could see along the front it was apparent that they had plenty of them. Another scream, this time much closer, and a guy standing close by was being dragged up the hill to another box. I ran to help.
And then, in the beam of my flashlight, I saw a face. Unlike the unknown masses of snarling enemies, this was a girl I knew. Her look of fear was the last thing I saw before she completely disappeared in the light from my hand.
I pulled the guy I had been following from the fray and went back behind our lines, shaken. What had just happened? A battle that felt like it had gone on forever, and suddenly I knew someone on the other side? Who were these people?
This hadn't been a bad person that I saw. She was a good person. A really good one. In a moment, I realized that the people on the other side must have the same goal that we did. That's why they were fighting. But who was right? And what was happening?
I sat on a rock and looked at the horizon. The midnight blue was lightening, proof that sometime soon the sun would rise. And then something inside me told me something that I will always remember. It told me to turn the light I held in my hand - the light I had used as a weapon and a shield only a moment before - onto myself. But that would kill me, right? But even as I tried to shake it, the feeling wouldn't go away, and an impression came so that I knew that it was from God. So I turned the flashlight toward my own face, and switched it on.
The brightness hurt. But it didn't burn like light usually did. And within moments, I could tell that something within me was changing. Even with a beam in my face, I could see my arms and hands beginning to glow. I stopped and stared. What was happening here?
I ran back to the battle and realized instantly that my faint glow made me an easy target in the night. But the unblocked laser beams and flash lamps didn't burn, either. At least not at first. After a little while, the glow dulled and I was back to normal.
And then it hit me.
We were fighting a war with darkness. But our enemy wasn't the group of people across the battle front. It was the darkness itself... and whatever had caused the rift between us as a people in the first place. Even if we won the battle and obliterated every opponent, we would be burned when the sun rose unless we turned our lights within... and became our own light. And every burned opponent wasn't an opponent. It was a burned friend. We were on the same side. I could almost hear the devil laughing as I watched good people on both sides engaged in what they saw as a holy battle, burning their brothers with light.
It hit me what I needed to do. First I needed to turn my own light on, and leave it on myself... and then, somehow, I needed to convince both sides of a battlefield that stretched beyond what I could even imagine to do the same. I wasn't a leader. It would have to be one by one. But the consequences of failure would be catastrophic... Everyone would be burned alive. The dream ended as I felt the call inside me to help others turn their light within, so that we could all survive the rising sun.
In the time since that dream years ago, a thousand different potential interpretations have come to mind. Different meanings for the pieces and players that apply to my life. But one thing has stuck with me. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, the most important part of my own battle is my own battle with darkness. And that can only happen when I turn my light within.