Alice C. Linsley
In this interview with Ancient Faith Radio, I mention a dream that I had about "the Pearl of Great Price" and this has prompted a reader to ask about the dream. Before I say more about that, I should explain that I keep a dream journal next to my bed and record significant dreams. I've been doing this for about 22 years so I am able to refer to those journals. The following 3 dreams are recorded in those journals.
On November 8, 1995 I dreamt that I was in a small office talking on the phone with a women parishioner, trying to persuade her to support the parish. After a time of conversation she finally came to her objection: her husband wouldn’t give to the church because of a woman priest. I countered that he should support the parish at least for the sake of the two men priests who were on my staff!
I rang off and sat down at a desk with a partition wall immediately in front of me. It was a poorly built partition and the larger room on the other side seemed to be empty but it was well lit from two windows. To my right was another window such as are found in old buildings: tall with thick casements. Behind me, also to the right, was a long, narrow supply closet with shelves. It was difficult to see inside because it was dark. There didn’t appear to be anything on the shelves.
Behind me to the left was an old reredos screen, which had been placed there after church renovation. It was deep forest green, flecked with gold and behind it was another door. The reredos had been pulled away from the door so someone could get to the door. The door was slightly open, but I had no idea where it led. I imagined that it was a studio for me to write. This made me glad.
After my phone conversation I went into the next room where Brian Wilbert asked me to put on a cope. It was white with gold braid and a sacred teardrop pearl hung at the peak of the detail. Sacred letters (runic) were inscribed on the pearl. I was the led into the assembly. All was in confusion as I entered. I sensed people’s reactions to me and I became nervous. I was being led to a platform in a convention center or large arena. I was to be seated in the cathedra, but it was not ready for me when I arrive. People were busy clearing away furniture and finally brought in the cathedra. It was very narrow and there is no place to put my Book of Common Prayer and papers. I asked for a small table to be placed next to the cathedra and I sat down. I looked over the congregation, which still had not settled down. I realized that I was expected to say something, but what?
Then the cathedra disappeared and I was facing the other direction with my back to the assembly. I was standing with my hand raised up as in prayer and the throng grew very quiet and I suddenly began to sing. It is a single strong note and perfectly pitched. The note swelled from within me and grew like a bubble coming from my mouth, only invisible. I sang and the people began to sing also. I was not leading the liturgy, but I was leading the singing. The noise was discordant at first, but then the people began to listen to one another and blended their voices. The song became beautiful and I knew that the people would be able to sing to the Lord. Their hearts would be free and they would sing! This gave me great joy.
This dream seems to be connected to an earlier dream, which I had on March 3, 1995.
In that dream I was on my way to the elevator and I stopped to hug a white haired elderly lady. She was surprised. I went left and she went right. I entered the elevator to go to the second floor but it would only go either to the fourth or the ground floors. Every time I tried to go to the second level the elevator went up to fourth or down to the ground floor. Finally I gave up and got off on the fourth floor.
My son is there with one of his male friends. I look under Josh’s bed. There was nothing there but dust and I noticed that the bed frame needed repairs and adjustments. Also the wall between the rooms had been removed. The 2 by 4s were still there and I could see into the other room, which was more finished and well furnished. To get to this room Josh had to take another elevator, but he didn’t want to go there. He liked this room.
In Josh’s room were gold puzzle boxes. I put them together and I also found trick matchboxes used by Japanese soldiers to trick their enemies. When someone asked for a light in a bar to smoke, the solider tossed them a trick matchbox and blew them up. These matchboxes were empty.
At the dresser there was a huge mirror facing me. In the dresser drawers I found more boxes and a small enameled box with a red velvet lining. I opened it and heard these words: “Solomon was the wisest who ever lived.” The box contained hairs from Solomon’s bear. I removed them and threw them in the trashcan to my right. I began to sing a very beautiful song, making up the words as I went. Another woman began to sing with me but couldn’t come up with the words so she stopped. I felt very glad and free, like a songbird perched in a tower high above a city.
My song was about a “sheer pearl” that was milky white and in the shape of a teardrop. It was gleaming white and at its curves it reflected the red lining of the box’s interior.
Both of these dreams are connected to a third dream involving a pearl.
I was vested and standing in the procession of priests. We were preparing to process into the church. The Bishop was in line ahead of me (not normal). Suddenly off to my right appeared a gleaming white pearl. It was shaped like a teardrop. I knew that it was the “Pearl of Great Price” but the only way I could take a hold of it was to leave the procession of priests and to turn my back on my bishop.
About 10 years later, I left the Episcopal priesthood in March 2005. That was the date of my signing the renunciation of orders. In a very real way I turned my back on my bishop (the radical Stacy Sauls) in order to take hold of something of infinitely greater value.
Related reading: Anglican Fudge on Women Priests; Why Women Were Never Priests; The Priesthood is About the Blood