I believe in Purgatory. I also believe I have sometimes dreamed of Purgatory. So perhaps, on rare special occasions, our souls are permitted to commune with deceased loved ones there.
Great fairy tales can be spiritual allegories. Imagine Cinderella strolling into the palace to meet the Prince before her fairy godmother helped her become as beautiful as possible. In this spirit, I personally look forward to the purification of Purgatory. Our souls might be instantly purified after death as if by a magic wand because everything is possible with God, but in the story Cinderella’s beautification requires some creative transformative work. Only then is she fully prepared to enter the King’s Castle and dance with the Prince.
“The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.”Catechism of the Catholic Church par. 1031
Even before I read what the Church teaches, I believed in a transitional state after death, in part because of my dreams with deceased loved ones. The doctrine of Purgatory is well supported by Scripture and not, as some have argued, a relatively recent invention of the Catholic church.
“Some of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament… refer to the Christian practice of praying for the dead…The Bible speaks plainly of a third condition, commonly called the limbo of the Fathers…If the limbo of the Fathers was purgatory, then this one verse directly teaches the existence of purgatory. If the limbo of the Fathers was a different temporary state, then the Bible at least says such a state can exist. It proves there can be more than just heaven and hell.”catholic.com/tract/purgatory
The night before she died, I dreamed of my maternal grandmother (who was Christened Rosa) standing in a colorful garden, and as she smiled at me, the sparkling antique lizard pin she liked to wear suddenly transformed into a colorful butterfly that flew away.
My very first lucid dream occurred when I was thirty-three years old, three days after my maternal grandmother passed away:
I found myself sitting across from her in a place resembling a small private airport waiting room. Looking over at me, she said in Spanish, “I’m dead, aren’t I?” to which I replied, “Yes, you are.” The next thing I remember is walking with her through a dark space. Helping support her bent form, I encouraged her to straighten her back, assuring her that she didn’t need to stoop anymore because she was no longer confined to her physical body. I distinctly remember looking down at our clasped hands and thinking: When I wake up, I will know this was real and not just a dream. This is really happening.
Just before waking up, I found myself standing in a well lit interior resembling a post office just as a tall and slender figure strode cheerfully into the space declaring, “I’m here to pick up the package!” This person had an attractive fine-featured face, gently waving shoulder-length blonde hair, and was wearing a white uniform. Watching this intensely energetic and androgynous courier proceed to the counter, collect what he had come for, and stride out again, I felt the “package” was my grandmother’s soul and that the courier was an Angel of God.
In the summer of 2006, approximately six years before I began lucid dreaming regularly and intelligently, I had this vivid dream:
My father (I call him Papi) is sitting at a small round table on an upper balcony of an outdoor restaurant attached to a hotel. Although the sun is shining brightly, he looks sad and depressed. Walking over to him, I remind Papi that we’re supposed to visit the pyramids together. He tells me he doesn’t think he can make it. I’m very upset, and insist we have to go. I remind him that he promised me we would.
A few days later, I received an email from Papi informing me that he had been diagnosed with Leukemia. In the months that followed, we grew closer than we had ever been. The pyramids of ancient Egypt (a civilization I have been studying since I was a child) are monumental expressions of a powerful belief in immortality and so, metaphorically speaking, my father and I did indeed visit them as together we confronted death. Seven months after his diagnosis, he passed away. The evening after his funeral, I was standing in the bathroom of a hotel on my way home, and as I brushed my hair, I heard my father's voice saying joyfully, “Maria, my love! You were right, Maria! You were right!” His voice didn't register in my physical eardrums, yet it was clear as a bell ringing directly in my mind. And that night, I went to bed determined to dream with him. . .
I find myself standing in a small town staring at the entrance to a theater, and at once I become lucid. I concentrate on the open door through which people are streaming out onto the street, absolutely determined my father will be one of them... and there he is! Immediately, we're embracing each other, but I notice that he looks a bit groggy and confused. He warns me, in the way he always did when he was worried about me, "You have to be careful here, Maria." My eyes fixed on his face, I perceive his features mysteriously morphing. . . Abruptly, I'm hugging a man with a similar build and complexion to my father's but who isn’t truly my father anymore. Then he collapses at my feet as if shot in the heart by the man I now see standing nearby. The stranger's intently aware eyes stare straight into mine, and although he is an attractive man, his cold sharp smile scares me so much, I instantly understand I have to get away from there as fast as possible! Launching myself into the sky, as I fly away from the scene, I begin waking up.
At the time, I thought of this man as one of my Guides protecting me from the dangers of a “place” on the "Other Side" I was not prepared for, but to which the force of my grief and love propelled me, hence my father’s warning. I now recognize him as my Guardian Angel, whose appearance "disabled" whoever had taken my father's place even as he deliberately frightened me away from there into the relative safety of waking reality boundaries.
Not long after Papi's death, I had another dream with him:
I find myself walking toward a long white structure on an ideally luminous day. The single-story building is surrounded by a white stone walkway punctuated with matching stone benches overlooking lush grass and flowering trees. I follow the path until I come upon Papi sitting on one of them. I ask him if I can sit with him, and he promptly moves over as he apologizes, "Sorry, but here we tend to sit in the center just because we can." I reach for his hand and cling to it. In the peaceful silence, I become acutely aware of being there with him. I look around us, and the lucid sense of being fully present in the moment intensifies as I say, "You know, we’re really sitting here now, but we could also already be sitting together on the Other Side with nothing to fear, not ever..." To which Papi replies, "I feel we could be, because of the sun."
Immediately after waking from this dream, I walked up to the mountain top with my dog, where a deep mist enabled me to look directly at the rising sun. There it was, in all it’s orange-gold splendor—the solar disc as clearly visible to my naked eye as the full moon. The vision felt like a blessing, like a gift from my father telling me we truly had been together in my dream. Of course, I understand now that my father wasn't referring merely to the solar disc but to the Son of God. Because of Jesus and His gift of the Holy Spirit, my father's soul and mine could, for a few priceless moments, be together in a dream. Asking my father about his life on the Other Side It’s a lovely day and I’m walking up our long curving black driveway, which is surrounded by trees in full summer leaf. Everything feels absolutely real and more vividly sensual than normal; even the slightly rough texture of the black asphalt beneath my bare feet tempts me to lie down on it to experience it’s unique sensation more intimately. I dismiss the urge, and for a few moments the world goes dark, but not completely. There is still luminous sky to the right of our tallest tulip tree, so that its familiar outline defines the edge of the darkness. Relaxed, I continue walking, simply waiting for my vision to completely return, which it does just as I round the final curve in the driveway. When the house comes into view, I see a man walking toward me. Behind him, a small group of people is gathered at the top of the driveway where it merges with the brick courtyard. My heart literally seems to expand in my chest when I realize the visitor is Papi! He strides across the grass toward me, smiling his uniquely wonderful smile. Above normal clothes, he is wearing an unusual flesh-colored fur cape, long and affluent-looking yet light enough to billow around him. Hurrying to meet him, and gazing joyfully at his face and into his eyes, I cry, “Papi! I didn’t expect you!” but he lets me know (without actually telling me so) that he only dropped by to say hello but that he can’t stay; already he’s turning toward the big car around which the others are gathering. I suffer the sinking sensation I am all too familiar with. Once again it is obvious that I desire to spend more time with him than he does with me, which makes me very sad. “You can’t just stop by for five minutes, Papi!” I protest. “You have to stay! Please, Papi!” I will not let him leave so soon… Abruptly, we are all inside a small rectangular room I feel is part of my house, although not in waking reality. It appears to be some sort of antechamber where guests can congregate, as they are doing now, some sitting, others standing and talking in the even light. There are no lamps, no furnishings at all, but a dark-haired man with his back to me (my brother?) is loudly and passionately playing a piano. Papi is standing a few feet away from me, smiling and saying something to someone. He looks happy and healthy, which makes me glad but also confuses me. Can it be that his leukemia is in remission? He’s been sick for years, and yet he’s still alive and looks perfectly healthy… A transition I can’t remember to sitting in a large dark room. Diagonally across from me, Papi is seated in the center of another couch. Keeping my focus on him, I somehow manage to pull myself up into a standing position so I can walk over to him. “It’s okay,” I tell him, staring intently down into his eyes. “I’m lucid now. I wasn’t lucid before. I understand that you’re dead.” Smiling, he replies, “Of course I’m dead.” I sit down beside him on the couch to his left, and as I ask him many questions, our positions relative to each other occasionally shift slightly. I wish I could remember everything we talked about word-per-word, but I know for a fact that at the beginning of our long conversation, I clearly picked up from him that life after death is not what he had expected it to be; it is much like physical life only infinitely more dynamic, for he is constantly and profoundly engaged in its unfolding. At one point, while we’re both standing, he tells me about a female acquaintance who covets a particular golden mausoleum for herself. I realize he’s making a joke about dead people tomb hunting the way living people house hunt. I exclaim, “You don’t really live in mausoleums here!” and he smiles at me the way I remember him doing whenever he was pulling my leg. Well into our conversation, I ask him, “Is there an infrastructure here?” He looks away, and the wonder in his voice is shadowed by fear as he replies, “Maria, it’s as if the center of the city is alive…” This makes wonderful sense to me. “It must be the heart,” I tell him, as in the Sacred Heart. The vision that flashes in my mind is of an open city square filled with a misty dark-blue light manifesting between the buildings and joining earth and sky as it thrusts out slightly like a woman’s breast. It is unfathomably alive and yet only one intimate connection—like a tiny bay in an endless ocean—to an absolute and Supreme Being, all-knowing, all-nurturing, all-giving and unending Life. It is nearly impossible for me to describe what I felt in this vision, but I instantly grasp that “where” Papi is now constantly manifests his innermost thoughts and feelings—his soul. Excited, I tell him, “I have a theory, Papi, that we’re all like cells in the single body of humanity, so here, individual souls might be like cells bringing this world to life.” I seem to comprehend that where he is, the activity of “day-to-day” life centers on experiencing and “working” with your soul, which is effectively turned inside-out. When we are once more sitting, and embracing each other now, I say, “I’ve asked you a lot of questions, Papi, and I’ve been dreaming for a long time. It’s going to be hard for me to remember everything you said. Let’s go over the points we covered. First, the infrastructure here is alive…” I phase out of the dream. I got the feeling that Papi and everyone else in that “place” was metaphorically suckling at the same Divine “breast” which cared for them while mysteriously helping them grow. When I shared my dream with my mother, she pointed out how at first I had to insist my father stay and spend time with me, and how it was my determination that obliged him to actually sit down and talk to me in a lucid dream. I know Papi loved me, but he always cut our phone conversations short when there was the real danger they might become more personal. This time, I didn’t let him hang up! I believe I was permitted to commune with my father in Purgatory. The Sacred Heart I had a vision of in the dream, when he described the center of the city as being alive, connects where he is with God but it is not heaven, which is full and unimaginably glorious union with God. “No happiness can be found worthy compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise. And day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed. Sin’s rust is the hindrance, and the fire burns the rust away so that more and more the soul opens itself up to the divine inflowing.” Fire of Love: Understanding Purgatory, Saint Catherine of Genoa I had not yet read this book when I had this dream, but I believe I glimpsed the truth of this “divine inflowing” my father informed me was at the heart of everything. During his final weeks in the hospital, I was in the room with him when a Catholic priest arrived to see him. Papi asked me to stay, but when the priest, standing at the head of the bed, opened his Bible and began praying, I mumbled some excuse and fled the room. I went and sat outside in front of the ocean watching the seagulls, my back to the hospital around which vultures constantly circled. I’m sure it’s no accident I had this incredible dream with my father after I fully embraced the Catholic faith into which I was Baptized and Confirmed. When he retired, my father was Director of USAID in Central America, which might explain the word I found myself spontaneously using in the dream—infrastructure—for much of his work consisted in overseeing the development of more modern infrastructures in poor rural communities.
Excerpt from Lucid Dream of October 21, 2014—Treatment
I’m sitting on the edge of a couch, gazing down at my deceased father where he reclines against it. At this point, I ask him a question I can’t recall now, but I vividly remember his response. “God is there…” And as he says this, I suddenly perceive slender shafts of golden light shining down from above and behind him as though cradling him. Resting his left hand over where his physical heart would have been he adds, "You feel pain in your essence..." as I observe a soft white light that seems concentrated in his chest area. And there is a note of uncomfortable awe in his voice as he tells me, “Forceful people come to you…” And a perfect understanding fills me as I look at his face, and the light.
“See, too, certain rays and shafts of light that go out from that divine love towards the soul… Two works are wrought by these rays: the first is purification and the second is destruction. Look at gold: the more you melt it, the better it becomes; you could melt it until you had destroyed in it every imperfection. Thus does fire work on material things. The soul cannot be destroyed insofar as it is in God, but insofar as it is in itself it can be destroyed; the more it is purified, the more the self is destroyed within it, until at last it is pure in God.”Saint Catherine of Genoa
Lucid Dream of June 5, 2015—Rosa in Purgatory
Walking purposefully, I suddenly come upon my maternal grandmother standing in some large common room. I almost walk past her, but then pause, becoming gently lucid as I understand that I'm seeing my dead grandmother. She looks very much like herself, and is wearing something akin to a hospital gown made of a thin pale fleshly material marred by stains of varying sizes and degrees.
I ask, “Abuela?” even though I know it's her. I can't remember our exact words to each other, but I begin by asking her how she's doing, and she tells me that she's fine, even though she is undergoing some very intense treatment. I reply, “Yes, I already knew that from another dream” as I remember glimpsing the process, which consisted of something flowing into and out of her. And as she speaks to me now, I receive another image of what her soul is experiencing. A great force is flowing into her like an invisible river's powerful torrent, but it is not water, or even the amorphous so-called “energy” of material science—it is a Living Power/Vitality/Pure Life actively engaged in purifying her. The crude analogy of a soul enema comes to mind, because it is definitely uncomfortable and yet totally necessary. I suffer the impression this "area" of Purgatory is akin to a hospital wing, and she seems content there, if not exactly happy, because she is making progress, getting better slowly but surely. . . This lucid interlude with Abuela continues as I observe her "morphing" into what looks like another woman, but it may be a more youthful version of her. As she demonstrates to me something of what she experiences in her “soul treatments” I perceive a greenish-gold “energy” building up inside her that forms a subtly glowing aura around her before abruptly “climaxing” in intensity and “snapping” into a golden egg-like frame around her—I literally see a gold-edged aura embracing her, as well as the other women in the group standing around her. They all appear to be undergoing the same "treatment." They stand there filled with a Splendor so bright it can barely be contained, their forms vibrating as though fit to burst with its radiance. . . And then they all begin dancing in a stop-motion-film kind of way, their arms and legs jerking up and down as their heads turn stiffly from side to side, almost like robots except there is nothing mechanical about their wholehearted exuberance. It's more like a ritual dance in which their gestures script a language expressing what their souls are experiencing. To me it looks as though the intensity of their joy is so great, they simply have to dance and dance even if their motions are, for the time being, painfully retrained. Yet watching them, I know all that matters is they are filled with this golden Light-Life which is such a pure and absolute joy, it's wonderful to be around them. As I begin ascending above this scene, I wake up.
Lucid Dream of January 18, 2021 - A Divine Shore
Lay awake a long time before I began falling asleep consciously
Although I was lying on my side in bed I slowly, gently become aware that I'm now resting on my back feeling completely and deliciously relaxed. Somehow I know I'm outside where the light is a pure bright white yet also ideally soft. A wind which is more than a breeze yet considerately gentle is playing with my long skirt, which occasionally wafts upward like a sail before gently breaking against my bent right knee in a silky-soft wave of fabric. I know I'm on a beach, and that my little dog, Arthur, is curled up asleep at my feet. But just to make sure, I shift my bare left foot slightly and confirm my impression with the feel of his silky soft hair. How utterly relaxed and content I am is wonderful; I feel I could lay here like this indefinitely and be perfectly happy.
I rouse myself slightly only so I can look up at the sky, where almost directly above me I perceive a large opening akin to a cloud-portal inside which (larger than life and facing downward) is Abuelo's (my maternal grandfather's) face, and the only strange thing is that he has no eyes. I know this means something, and his familiar loved presence only adds to the glorious reality of the scene. I don't need to sit up as, turning my head to the left, I see that this beach is full of people and yet it doesn't feel in the least bit crowded. I hear no voices, there is no sound at all, yet I don't notice its absence because all of us are somehow wonderfully one with the Light. The atmosphere is utterly bright and white and yet there's no need to squint against it. There's no blinding sun blazing down on the scene; this sublime shore seems to actually be inside the Light. There are also no shadows; the only darkness is akin to the fine strokes of an artist's black pencil forming the outlines of living people - reclining or standing on the beach as well as in the water near the shore - who all appear as happy as I am to be here.
The scene is vibrant and dynamic, yet as I look up the only motion I'm aware of takes the form of a tiny white moth or butterfly fluttering energetically beneath something akin to an archway of paler light, its tiny form as bright as the atmosphere and even brighter. The scene is radiant with life and yet at the same time perfectly silent and profoundly restful.
Utterly content, I return to simply lying there on my back, my only concern (which really isn't one at all) being the way the wind keeps playing with my skirt, each time seeming about to lift it high enough to expose my intimate parts to a man resting on his side between me and the water and who, facing in my direction, never takes his eyes off me. Yet I know it doesn't matter what happens with my skirt because here all is well... all is exceeding well...
I'm disappointed when the scene begins slipping away and I find my awareness drifting along narrow city streets facing blank walls, everything looking empty and lifeless as I land back in my physical body in bed.
Dream Notes: I immediately thought about how Abuelo's face had no eyes, and understood that it was because he had lent me his eyes (his vision) so I could see, catch a glorious glimpse of a Divine shore that does not exist on Earth but in the Son and the Light of Life Eternal.
Yesterday, when I walked Arthur to the ocean, the sunlight was so bright on the water I could barely look at it, and I said to my Lord in my mind and heart that I could not wait to see Him and look straight at Him (for He is the Light Who is Life) with my eyes wide open and not go blind, as described by many people who have died and returned to share their experience of a blinding light of Love they could look straight at. Countless people who relate their Near Death Experience (not really an accurate term because all these people were clinically dead, in many cases for hours) all speak of the most brilliant and beautiful and mysteriously loving light they could look straight at.
Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”John 8:12
I've done my best to describe the absolute relaxation, peace and tranquility I experienced on that Divine shore. I look forward to feeling as I did resting there while the wind of the Holy Spirit played with my skirt (teasing me with my modest concern?) with my beloved little dog who I call my Guardian Angel's glove. And perhaps that man reclining on his side facing me, and who never took his eyes off me, was my Guardian Angel because later that same night, I had a marvelous lucid dream featuring him and some of his fellow Angels! The Mysterious Hotel