The self-sufficient, sun-powered, home-turned-sanctuary concept that I have described in Part 3 of our 51 Cats story and in the currently incomplete Open Sanctuary Project pages has been an evolving dream of mine for the past nine years, but now I am wondering if perhaps God does not intends for it to end up as a peaceful, off-grid sanctuary just for cats.
A Rather Unusual Dream
In mid November of 2010 I had a dream. This dream was not your average dream by any means. It was one of those powerful dreams that leaves a lasting impression and somehow feels spiritually significant – like God is showing you something.
I was standing with a small group of young women at dusk overlooking a field of what appeared to be fresh-tilled earth, waiting for some kind of performance to start. For some reason this performance was important to these girls and they wanted me to watch it with them.
Curving through the field was a small railroad track like the kind you might find at an amusement park. Scattered here and there were small standing sections of rusted barbed-wire fencing. The scene looked very bleak as the sun was slowly setting – something reminiscent of an old battle field.
While there was still enough sunlight to clearly see colors, a small train came past, slowly pulling a great many, tiny, low, flatbed cars. On the first several cars, carefully laid out in neat rows, were the real, disembodied, right legs of dead women, each one uniquely dressed in a fashionable pant leg and stylish shoe. After these first cars slowly passed, all the many cars that followed carried even more legs. Only now they were bare, heaped in piles. It was then that I was told what I was seeing. Every one of these legs belonged to a woman who had suffered and eventually died a victim of abuse.
I felt very disturbed and I turned to the girls and asked them how they could stand to watch it. None of them answered. Then, bright lights slowly came on and music began to play. This music had a deep African rhythm like the music on the Disney animated feature “The Lion King.” As the lights came up, they revealed two lone female figures, each standing motionless near a section of barbed-wire fencing. These women looked like Cirque Du Soleil performers. They were covered head-to-toe in ultra-thin, skin-tight, spandex body-suits such that they appeared to be naked. Yet their body-suits were textured and colored to mach the dirt so that you didn’t even notice them until they moved. As these two performers began to move, they gradually sunk into the earth, revealing that what looked like tilled earth was actually deep mud lightly covered with soil.
A large chorus of African women began to sing the same two verses over and over in time with the deep African rhythm. I can’t remember what they said. All I can remember is the word “survive” in the first verse and the word “live” in the second. At this point hands, arms and heads began moving around in the soil revealing more and more female performers, each appearing as though they were nude, covered in mud, struggling desperately to keep from going completely under – struggling for their lives. All this happening as more and more train cars slowly moved past carrying piles of dead women’s legs.
Then, toward the left a brighter light came on as some women found a tiny, round patch of solid ground and began to climb out of the mud followed by more and more women. They started to climb on top of each other forming a tower of struggling bodies. The music grew in intensity as the ones at the top all held their hand up reaching out to God.
As more women struggled their way out of the mud and onto the tower I saw clearly that they were not desperately climbing over their sisters for their own survival. The women at the bottom of the tower were actually reaching toward them, desperately pulling them up and out – willingly bearing the burden of their sister’s weight – helping each other survive.
I could actually feel the collective agony and desperate strength of all these women. I woke up in tears.
This is a dream I will never forget.
I have asked God why I was given this dream. I wasn’t sure what I should do with it. How is this dream connected to me? In my effort to see a connection, I began to wonder if perhaps God intended that my concept for low-cost, sanctuaries should double as long-term, therapy centers for abuse and trauma victims.
These sanctuaries would give survivors a safe place to go and escape worldly pressures while undergoing dedicated, recovery therapy. It could be a gentle place where the hurting can live and meet God as their healer, and rest in His peace.
Their workload would be light and simple as determined by their designated counselor (cooking, cleaning, gardening, piecework, etc.) and caring for and petting the cats could also be incorporated into their therapy. I can see no end to the blessings a sanctuary like this could provide to God’s hurting children.
When I think about this sanctuary now, in my mind I see many small nooks and pleasant out-of-the-way spaces where the words “Secret Place” are carved in stone, tile or wood indicating that these are comfortable, secluded spots for meditation and silent prayer. I also see a bench next to a small trickling waterfall pouring into a little pond with the word “Surrender” carved into the edge of the pond. For some reason I also see many pillows for holding in your lap and gently pressing against your stomach, simulating supportive arms wrapped around you.
I’m sure that with the right people involved, this sanctuary could turn into a wonderful healing environment full of loving, supportive helpers; sisters who can truly say “I’ve been there.”