Monday, May 01, 2006

Ite ad Joseph - Part I

I. Prologue – The Auguries of the Holy Dove

People have crazy dreams. How many breakfast conversations have revolved around the telling of a strange episode imagined during the previous night’s rest? Each of us has, at one time or another, risen in the morning, and, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, wondered, “What, in the name of God, was that all about?”

In ancient times, there was a man who had some of the strangest dreams worth telling, and many mornings asked himself, “What, in the name of God, was that all about?” And, in the name of God, he received an answer. By strange and unexpected ways came suddenly to this king of Egypt the great figure of Joseph. One of the sons of Jacob, Joseph was a wise and prudent man whose closeness to God gave him the ability to interpret dreams. This aid Joseph offered to Pharaoh and thus was assured prosperity and safe transport throughout the alien land for him and for his descendants.

In slightly more modern times, in the city of Rome, were men and women to whom the rulers of the land would come with questions about their own strange dreams. These men and women also were supposed to be able to explain natural phenomena which seemed to the pagan citizens of Rome to be ill portents: earthquakes, storms, and the like. A particular omen to which they were given responsibility to provide elucidation was the flight of birds. The patterned migratory flights of various fowl, they believed, were manifestations of the wills of the gods, which could, if properly interpreted, serve as a guide for mankind in times of doubt and trouble. And so, these men and women – called augurs – looked to the skies for answers to men’s worries. Reading the auguries of birds, they prophesied to the people of the land, and everyone took note of their prognostications, including the emperor himself.

In still more modern times, there are now many men who have uncanny dreams. These men need not hold any particular social status – they come in all colors, ages, sizes and shapes. Nor does geographic location seem to be a necessary determinant in the occurrence of such dreams. It simply happens, that one day, a man will wake with the overwhelming sense that he has been spoken to by God. And as multifarious as are the dreamers, so do the particular details of each dream take many different forms. Some are nocturnal notions; some arise during the day. Some in the office; some in the line at the supermarket. And although rarely this hearing of God’s voice is a sensorial perception of the auditory organs, it sometimes is just that. And however varied and unique may be the ways in which God’s word is heard, the message always stays the same. He tells them they are special; although they most often think themselves exceedingly ordinary. He tells them that they have a special task; although their calendar is usually booked full. He tells them that He has called them from among their peers for this special service; although they could pick at least ten of their peers whom they might find more suitable to the task. He tells them that He wants them to become priests; although they very often want very different things.

And down upon these dreamers rushes another omen, a Holy Dove, whose flight has puzzled the wisest augurs of every time and place. Erratic and unpredictable, it is no wonder that men find the flight of this Bird to be ominous, for wherever falls the shadow of Its wings, there are strange happenings and signs difficult to explain. And for men of modern times, already beset with confusion by the portent of their troubling dreams, the omen of this Holy Dove working its strange power in their lives is all the more upsetting.

In many instances, they have cried out for help in discerning the meaning of such signs in their lives, such dreams strange beyond all telling. And to their aid has come another dreamer, another augur, another man called by God to special service, and his name, too, is Joseph…


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