Iawoke this morning still dreaming. One of my patients appeared in my dreams. So had my old High School sweetheart. My patient is dying... this is both a dreaming reality and a living reality. The sweetheart was attending her daughter's first communion. This is only a dream. I know she has a daughter, but I doubt seriously that she is attached to any church. She was never particularly interested. But who knows...I cannot say for certain. We have not had a significant conversation in years. But in my dreams, these people are living throught important moments, transforming moments. Writing all of this out is helpful. I see now that I am experiencing death in each instance. Relationships change and die. People change and die. Death may be the Great Change. I do not know. Theology fails me here. Baptism is a death of sorts. I imagine that first communion can be such a great shift as well. Through dining with Christ I am forever changed. Holy remembrance can, over time, shift my reality, changing how I experience the universe. Perhaps, in some small way a part of me is sloughed off with each communion meal. Aquinas would be proud. I am struggling with ideas of reality and experience. Sometimes I read about the trouble of experience based faith claims. I have been criticized by people who use the logic that experience fragments faith, that it can serve individualism and relativism. But this morning, I am not so certain that it has to be that way. Experience is essential to the Christian walk. Communities have experiences. Individuals wthin those communities interpret those experiences. This seems like such an obvious point to me as I type it. Of course it does. Of course our experiences shape us. "Tell us something we do not know." I am not certain I can do that. This post mostly for me, it seems. Revelation is experience. Tradition is the articulation of experience. In speaking with Megan about the nature of church and whether or not Jesus has asked us to create such an institution, I have been trying to get past my own experience of the church, of the tradition handed on to me. I have been trying to get past my own experience of God, of people and of the world. I realize that I have not been simply arguing some idea or debating some nuance of theology, but that I have been trying to articulate my experience of life and that experience has so shaped me that I cannot read scripture without thinking that this is to and for a group of people, an intentional community that claims a specific identity for itself. That community has structures and institutions that do its work. My experience of Christianity keeps me from doing more than imagining what Megan is articulating. This does not make either one of us right or wrong. Maybe I am hopelessly relativist. This is probably the case. But as we struggle in the blogosphere with identity and how it rubs with or against the grain of the universe, I am constantly reminded that experience matters. I think it may very well be the thing that matters most. If one experiences something as hurtful, then that is reality. If one experiences a thing as life-giving, then that is reality. Sometimes, like with the church or government or school or the dentist, our struggles come when it is the same thing experienced differently. I know, state the obvious, AngloBaptist. It is my job, I guess. Back to the dreams...How Tom dies matters. How I experience his death will shape what death is to me. That i dream of his dying is significant. How Tom experiences his death and shares that experience will shape what death means to me and many others. There are layers upon layers with this. Community within community and all individuals engaged will shape this. This is shared revelation. How Lynda raises her child, how she shares her faith or does not will be reality to her daughter. That I have Lynda attending her daughter's first communion in my dreams shows how I experience the universe. I dream about communions and deaths. They are the language of my psyche. They are God's revelation to me. I am blathering a lot here. I am sorry if you read this whole post and found it confused and muddled. I am not really trying to state a certainty. I am muddled and a little confused today. Perhaps, I am still dreaming.