Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Galloping Along the Shoreline

When we first moved to Old Saybrook, I dreamt I was on a beach with two greyhounds that belonged to my brand-new next-door neighbor. It was low tide, and the sand flats extended from Branford all the way to the Saybrook Jetty. In my dream, the larger greyhound gave me permission to climb onto his back,and we ran at full gallop all the way up the shoreline. A privilege!

This beautiful painting is called Outer Light -- Moonshine and is the work of artist Sheila-Graham-Smith from

Years later, I had another dream, except this time I was awake. . It happened during an unusual form of “graduation” from a pastoring course led by Martin van Horn. I had told Martin I thought it was an odd idea, his proposal that the six of us should gather some Saturday at midnight for an unlimited time of prayer and praise. This was graduation?

I thought it was odd. Especially since it meant that I (the one-and-only woman in the group) was now required to drive in the middle of the night to an empty sanctuary where I would convene for worship with five men. To what purpose, my husband most reasonably asked. My response was that I did not know, and that I was concerned about appearances. But the Holy Spirit said “Go!” so I went.

We arrived about midnight -- Martin, our leader, carrying a drum from some exotic land, Damon with assorted CDs, Dave cranking up the sound system, the other Dave running a little late, Tom already on his knees. Me and five men. It was about one in the morning – I think – by the time we got started.

We were shy at first – Martin thumping on his drum to the rhythms of the music. We started gingerly, privately lifting up our individual praise and prayers. As we continued, we got more energy – not less – until eventually we were jumping and singing and clapping and shouting in truly abandoned worship that just kept going and going. Somewhere along into the wee hours of the morning, the Spirit simply fell upon us. Suddenly we were on our faces, six worshippers weeping. It was gentle and lovely and sweet sweet sweet. Gradually it just tamped down, like horses slowing after a long romp out in the back pastures full of afternoon sun.

I think it was 7 a.m. by the time I got home. I took a nap and a shower and was back for morning worship at 10 a.m., which was when I discovered that Martin’s idea had not been so odd after all. Because the Lord poured into the congregation that morning, bringing forth songs that were random but beautifully blended, exuberant and gentle at the same time, fragrant to His nostrils apparently, as He just kept pouring them back into us and we flowing them back to Him. Our spirit songs flowed and flowed and flowed until finally they began to ebb and finally roll back out in to the sea of His mercy and grace. We all went home mightily blessed, perhaps most especially our little cadre. We saw it as fruit, and Martin’s odd idea as simple obedience. We knew we should do it again, and so, eventually, we did. I think it was the third “all-nighter” when I had the dream.

Again it was very late on a Saturday night, but we had been worshipping for hours, so it was probably three or four o’clock in the morning when this dream appeared. I was just standing there, worshipping, when I heard hoof beats -- the sound of horses, restless horses, horses ready to ride.

Not only that, I was on one. There were thousands of us mounted on gorgeous thoroughbreds in what appeared to be an endless procession. The riders did not look like people but like those summer lanterns people make by putting candles under paper bags. At the front, was One on a bright white stallion. I knew it was Jesus, and that I had read about this before.

But this time, I was in it. Anticipation was high – we were ready to ride. You could hear it in the hoof beats. The horses were ready to ride, ready to ride. And so was I!

Gradually, ever so gradually, but steadily, things stepped up, trotting to a gentle canter, then to full canter, then to gallop. We were flying along a big body of salt water – faster and faster – even my hair was blowing in the wind. As we rode, we were reaching down to pull people up -- anyone who wanted to come. They were as light as feathers! And when I would plunk someone onto the broad shoulders of my magnificent horse, there was plenty of room for more. I rode and reached and pulled and put, rode and reached and rode. Some people would not come up. Those just stood there, flat-footed and blinking their eyes. Those we left, standing there in the wet sand, blinking, as we galloped over the flats along the shore.

It was easy! Exhilarating! We galloped for many miles – somehow I knew we had started in Branford toward the juncture of the Connecticut River. Finally we were approaching the river’s mouth and the horses began to tamp down to a gentle trot. Slower. Padding down until we were done.

Overwhelmed by gratitude for my mount, I decided to express it by reaching over its lovely mane to offer a big, upside-down hug the way jockeys do. When I did this, I discovered, to my amazement, that I’d been riding all this time on the back of my dog!

P.S. All this never would have happened, but for Martin’s odd idea.


  1. Picking cotton for that bridal gown. Can't pick those eaten by the boll weevil, no blemishes for this bride. The sun is finally going down. Better hurry back and get that bride ready for her groom. Soon, very soon...

  2. Carl -- I have tried twice to reply to your nice comment. This is me trying again before I type the whole thing all over and have it disappear -- again. More anon...

  3. OK now I finally get my comment to appear, I will say I KNOW THAT SONG. Soon and very soon, we are gonna see the King (doot doot in low bass notes), Soon and very soon, we are gonna see the King (doot doot), Soon and very soon, we are gonna see the King, Hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah! Thanks for your comment!

  4. Beautiful pictures, both the painting and the words.

  5. I thank you, NS, and agree that this painting, which utterly GORGEOUS in person, is beautiful. I think it captures what I experienced and seems to fit perfectly with the words. I'm glad you think so, too!