Mississippi Dreams that Lead to a Bigger Story
When I was in third grade, I had this dream I still remember. I was in a red-carpeted mansion with a wide staircase going up from the foyer. A beautiful woman was walking down the stairs in a white evening gown. She was my wife, and I loved her.
Then I woke up.
I guess the dream makes sense. As a kid, I pretended we lived on a big estate, that our small apartment building in Petal, Mississippi, was like the Capwell mansion on Santa Barbara, the daytime soap opera I wasn’t supposed to watch. The reality was, however, that my brother and I had more modest ideas about what made someone wealthy.
People who were rich owned three things: a microwave, a VCR, and a house with two floors and a chimney. I did not assume we would ever have those things, so our dreams were simpler, and they were the dreams of our parents: to have a house, a yard, and a dog—that was it. We got those things when I was 10 years old and we moved to 1693 Highway 11 on the outskirts of Petal.
We lived in a little rental house with a big yard and had a dog named Spot. The house had miles of woods behind it, a creek to swim in, and a cemetery out back—yes, a cemetery, and in that cemetery was buried Confederate Major Amos McLemore. His family periodically decorated his grave with Confederate flags, and on his gravestone was a detailed story of the night a cowardly Confederate deserter shot him in the back.
We built bonfires until late at night and burned trash in the middle of the day. We climbed trees in the backyard, constructed forts in the kudzu, and threw bricks through the windows of a dilapidated house in the woods. And in all the fun, we also learned some hard lessons, like how you shouldn’t set a fire inside a hollow tree and how having a dog next to the highway can easily end in tragedy. It was the stuff of fifth-grade chapter books and old country songs.
Even so, I hung onto my brief dream about the red-carpeted mansion and the woman in the white dress. I wanted something more, something bigger than the house on Highway 11, and that old dream personified my desire.
I’m a grown man now, and although I don’t live in a mansion, it’s close enough. I’ve got a nice, two-story house with a microwave, a chimney, and a VCR that’s in storage. My wife, Raquel, comes down the stairs each morning holding our infant son, and two little girls follow close behind her and climb into my lap. I’m not wealthy, but I feel rich.
Even so, there’s this longing, this yearning for something more—not a bigger house or a prettier wife (that’s not possible). I want to feel the pleasure of hosting friends and family at our home and having good conversations around the dining room table. I want that rush of joy in autumn when the wind is blowing in my face and the girls are jumping in leaf piles in the back yard. I want to forget time like I do in that sacred space of intimacy with my wife.
I want the God who brings those moments to life, the God who gave me the wife coming down the staircase. I want the God who promises something more: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go and prepare a place for you, [and] I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).
I want to be in that house, the one I’ll never leave—a place for you and me.