The fog hung outside the hangar bay door like it was waiting for a mission. Silent and stoic, it held its position until the morning sunbeams sent it on its way. The space was quiet and vacant, but I could imagine the hangar like a 1940s movie set, filled with extras.
A man with old levis, wrench in hand, would be fixing the propellers on the old plane that was tucked in the back. A Clark Gable look-a-like would be wearing a bomber jacket and chatting up a classy brunette in a green dress while she batted her eyelashes and smoked a ciggy. A radio near the office, with patchy reception, would be crooning Bing Crosby singing something about Swinging on a Star.
But for now, the space was empty. Just me, the old plane, and a large table that stretched clear across the room. Growing more accustomed to these types of divine rendezvous, I was sure Papa would be along shortly, or was already here waiting for the perfect moment to enter the conversation. So I took the time to investigate what had been unrolled across the table.
The paper was thick, blue, and extended from one end of the table to the other, where a portion was still rolled up, like butcher paper. The white lettering was smallish, and the shapes and numbers didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I’m not sure I’d seen enough blueprints to know what to expect. Certainly, these were plans for something, but I wasn’t sure what.
“Look closely,” Papa spoke softly, leaning down over the blueprint with me.
I smiled, “Hi, Papa.” I peered over at Him.
He elbowed me playfully, “Hey, I said, ‘look closely’.”
I looked back down at the blueprint and tried to find clues with my finger as I traced the shapes and landed on key words. Tree house…retreat center… marriage…community…children’s book publishing…adoption…adventure car…encounters…baking the ultimate chocolate chip cookie – what was this?
“I think you would have fun with that last dream – have you tried it yet?” Papa mused.
“What? No. No, actually, I haven’t.” I put both hands down on the blueprint as I attempted to hold my scattered thoughts together.”
He stood straight up and placed His hands on His hips, “Well, I’m pretty excited for when you do. Try adding extra vanilla.” He winked.
Dreams. These were my dreams. I looked down the long table imagining how many hundreds – maybe thousands of grand, meaningful, silly and small dreams were unrolled on the table, and then eyed the rest of the paper, still rolled at the end and wondered how many more were there.
“These are the blueprints for my dreams,” I whispered as I stood and looked to Papa.
“Indeed,” He patted the paper, “Good dreams.” He raised his eyebrows, “You dream a lot, kiddo.”
I felt a little childish and embarrassed, actually, in that moment, “Dreams for a thousand lifetimes,” I sighed. I loved dreaming, but there were times my ADD dreaming tendencies felt overwhelming and juvenile. Why couldn’t I just choose one nice, heroic life path? Why was I drawn to so many things at the same time? I had cat-lady like abilities to collect dreams, but didn’t always feel successful at tending to them, like I figured a real adult should.
“Scribe – woah,” Papa interrupted my inner diatribe, “Hey, go easy on your thoughts there.”
“I know. I know.” I nodded, “it’s not good for the heart.”
He put his hands on my shoulders and shook them gently, “Too. Much. Thinking. And just for the record, a thousand lifetimes worth of dreams is far, far too few, but we’ll discuss that another time. Now, how about we build something?”
He had that crazy look in His eye, but I was in. The thought of building any of the dreams from the blueprint was very appealing. I mean, I was about to watch a dream come true, are you kidding me? Bring. It. On.
He clapped His hands once, and reached for something from His back pocket. He revealed his tool briefly, then got right to work while I put my hand on my heart and audibly gasped.
“What are you doing?!” I shrieked.
Papa appeared to haphazardly be cutting apart the blueprints to my dreams with a pair of sharp scissors.
“Wait, wait, wait!” I put my hand on his arm to stop Him, “that’s not how you build.”
Papa stopped and stood back up again, a wry smile broke across His face. I’m sure He was amused that I was about to offer Him some kind of correction.
I stretched out my arms towards Him and the blueprints, and began to speak slowly, like I was negotiating a hostage release, “Papa – these are the plans for how to build, the dreams, right? We can’t just cut them up – I mean they’re all organized and connected, probably just like they are meant to be to build them.” I looked down at his handiwork, “How will we know how to build?” My hand reached for a particularly meaningful dream, already cut from the blueprint, “and what if you lose a piece?”
He placed the scissors on the table and slowly approached me, wrapping me in His arms, “I never lose a piece, Scribe. No dream is forgotten.”
“Really?” I sniffled, trying to catch my breath between my tears, “Cause, it kind of feels like that that sometimes, Papa. Like, I dream, and I hope, and I pray, and I believe – and then you come along and cut the dreams off – or out.” I rubbed my wet cheeks against his chest as He reassuringly pat my head.
“And that’s why I’ve invited you here, Scribe. There’s something I want you to see.” He breathed deeply, “I need you to trust me.”
I breathed deeply too, “Okay.”
“Now, there is a toolbox in the office, would you mind?”
I retreated slowly to the office to fetch the toolbox, stopping a time or two to peer over my shoulder and watch Papa slicing up my dreams.
“Go ahead and set it down over there.” Papa pointed to the open space of the hangar.
I placed the toolbox down and Papa walked over with a mound of paper, cut in all kinds of shapes and sizes. He sat down next to the toolbox and invited me to do the same. Then, He began to teach me how to roll and fold the dreams into different shapes. He opened the toolbox and pulled out a vile of some kind of clear glue. Piece by piece, he started to glue the pieces together, and sure enough – He was building something with the pieces of the blueprint.
I didn’t understand the purpose of some of His directions, to be honest, but I tried to follow His voice as best I could to move certain pieces here or there and dab the glue where He asked. I couldn’t see what we were building. I was still caught up in the irony that the blueprints for my dreams didn’t include the how-to; instead my dreams were the building material for something else entirely.
The scale of what we were building was quite large. Papa had engineered methods of folding and rolling the paper to construct walls and supports and even a roof of sorts. And in just a little while, we both stood back and admired what the dreams had built.
“It’s very tabernacle –y, Papa.” I tilted my head as I examined the blue structure.
He nodded. “Indeed. Scribe, do you recall the purpose of the tabernacle?”
I looked over at Papa, who was still staring at the blue tabernacle, “It was a place of sacrifice – and a place of encounter. This is where you met with man.”
“I did.” Papa exclaimed, happy tears rolling down his cheeks. He laughed, wiping them away, “Yes, I met with man.”
His words were few, but His joy was full. This simple thought – to meet with us – to be with us – it overwhelmed the God of the cosmos. Overwhelmed. How the simplicity of being with us ignites uncontainable joy in a God who holds time and mystery and the universe in His hands, is beyond me.
I approached the walls of the tabernacle, tracing the white lettering of my dreams again. Some dreams were hidden now – folded up within the walls or rolled into the beams of the roof. But He was right, nothing was forgotten, every dream was here. No matter how cut up or hidden – they were present, helping to create this space.
“Nothing lost, Scribe, you see. Nothing wasted. I will use all your dreams to make us a meeting place.”
I heard Him as I continued to examine the structure. My heart stirred to the realization that my beautiful dreams did not gain their beauty from their fulfillment, but the journey they invited me into. My dreams cultivated hope and faith and stretched my imagination to consider greater measures of His goodness. They gave direction, but were the never the destination. He was. My dreams were containers for encounter with Him.
“I like what you’ve done with the place,” I said.
“And to think this is just the early model.” He rubbed his chin as I approached.
“Early model?” I turned and looked back at the blue tabernacle.
“I am awfully fond of the renovation.” He turned and looked at me.
I looked at Him and could feel the weight of His words as it became clear He was speaking of me.
I was the renovation.
I was the meeting place – made with a thousand lifetimes of dreams rolled up inside.
And Papa would use every slice, every tear, and every seemingly broken journey to create what I dreamt for most – a life to experience His presence.
For that was my very dearest dream.