Monday, November 7, 2011

Putting Ourselves Above the Altar

It was a high marble altar, no question about it, but with much bigger niches and no crucifix. In my dream, another one of my theater dreams, we sat in costume in the niches on the altar, like the surprises behind windows on an Advent calendar, participating in some sort of static drama. All my friends from my old theater company were there, awaiting the arrival of the star of the show, who would sit in the center niche, where the crucifix should have been but wasn’t.

I’m pretty sure this dream, from which I woke at 3:46, had personal significance, but that’s not relevant here. What’s relevant is that we’re all in this dream.

I awaited my entrance on the Epistle side, from what we call St. Joseph’s aisle in our church, stage left to a performer. I had to climb a narrow set of steps draped with white linen, and I was bearing a ceremonial object. The star of the show—the major domo who put together the theatrical entertainment in which I participated for many years—was preparing to enter from the Gospel side, Mary’s aisle, stage right, where his dressing room has always been located. He was walking with the aid of a cane.

Already set in some niches on the altar were performers in costume—lovely really, like infant Jesuses and queenly Marys all got up in robes and venerated in little shrines throughout the Catholic world. They weren’t doing much, just sitting, posing, looking absolutely fabulous.

In my dream we were the celebrities—which comes from the same root as celebrants, I guess. We were the celebrants and servers in a Church without Christ, our modern world, with Madonna always on display.

Who were the parishioners in my dream? I never saw them, invisible to the left of my field of vision, but they must have been us too. In this beautifully staged, overdressed nightmare, we all faced east and west, inward and outward, adoring the most fascinating things in the world, ourselves.

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