The Little Saint
A wonderful friend sent a book to me recently entitled The Little Saint by Hannah Green. Published in 2000, four years after the author’s death, it is a beautiful memoir of hers and her husband’s experience in a small village in south central France in the 1970’s. The village was for centuries a stop on the pilgrimage trail Christians followed in their search for connection with the holy. Hannah Green, a nominal Christian at best, was transformed by being near the shrine of St. Foy, a fourth century virgin saint. In the last pages, she relates a numinous dream.
” A year ago in the fall as we slept in our bedroom under the roof in the “grand appartement” above Jack’s studio, I dreamed the roof was gone and I could see the night heavens and all the stars in that part of the sky, the southwestern sky, where I would have been looking, asleep in my bed on my back. i could see the stars, and then suddenly from the either side, all around, all the stars swooped toward one another, curving, looping, with luminous tails like comets, like falling stars in their swiftness, while I lay there in bed stunned, breathless. And then the stars formed a cross, which stayed in the sky as if for me. The cross was outlined in bright stars , and within it was studded with stars in a lovely pattern, and it seemed somehow fragile and delicate, not terrifying at all but sweet and feminine and beautiful, as if to say, Look, see how pretty I am; and I knew somehow in my dream that stars in the form of a cross were like St. Foy, they were herself turned into stars in the cross of stars.
” My dream seemed so tender and so dear to me, so glorious, that I was afraid I might cry if I spoke of it. I wanted to tell Jack but I didn’t think I could. I didn’t even think I could write it down for several days, I just kept it there in my mind, in the lump in my throat. Then I wrote it.
” That evening at supper Jack talked about the cross. What a perfect symbol, he said, and spoke of the eloquence of its forms and of the spaces it creates. He was talking about Christianity, about what a mysterious religion it is……”What other religion has such mystery?” he asked. I told him my dream through my tears and he said it was like a vision.”
What a lovely example of a numinous dream – and synchronicity. Numinous means “having a deeply spiritual or mystical effect.” Such dreams, if we pay attention to them, can have a profound healing effect on us, and on our psyche. Once this woman wrote down this profound dream, before telling her husband about it, he spoke of the importance of its central symbol. This is sychronicity, the meaningful coincidence. Now many people believe God works in our lives through meaningful coincidences but they are often only looking for confirmation of a decision already made, a direction already taken. What would it be like to watch for synchronicity without prejudice?