I called my friend Jack Christianson this morning about 7:30. He was getting ready to play a round of golf. I had already spoken with his wife earlier and she had given me his cell phone number. I think he was eating breakfast with "work related" companions before hitting the links. We exchanged pleasantries and then I told him why I had called.
I have known Jack personally for about ten years. He and I were colleagues at the Institute at UVSC for the last four years of my career with CES. For two of those years he was the Director of the Institute and was technically my boss. I never once felt that he considered me an underling or an inferior; in fact, it was quite the reverse. He always seemed glad that I would call him friend. In 2004 I retired; a year or so later he took advantage of some rather interesting opportunities which now allow him to play golf as a work-related activity. He seems to have prospered.
The reason that I felt impressed to call him was that I had a dream about him this morning, a rather fanciful dream as dreams go, but one that taught me something; actually two somethings.
The earliest scene of the dream that I can remember was that Jack and I had met incidentally in the middle of town somewhere. He was the President of the United States, with the black cars, the secret service agents, and all of the rest. He was his own affable self and invited me to go with him for a while. He was not playing golf, but there was some sort of sporting activity involved, if I remember my dream correctly. In any event, we spent a couple of hours together and then he had to attend to other commitments and our paths separated.
A short time later, as I was walking along the street, I happened to meet Nancy Polosi whom I knew for some reason. We began talking about Jack and his administration, but she seemed just a little smug about him. Her air was such that I assumed that Jack must still be a Republican. Something was said or inferred in our conversation that I thought it was really important for me to see Jack again. I knew where he was staying, a hotel in the middle of town, and I went there as quickly as I could.
I went into the main lobby and asked for him, but he had not yet arrived. About that same moment there was a hustle and bustle off to my right and Jack and his men came into the building through a small door. Jack was in body armor and most of his face was covered by a ski mask, but I could see his eyes and hear his voice. His hands were tied in from of him. He shouted out to me "Run! Get out of here!" Just at that second the entire hotel shut down. Large metal doors covered the entrances and windows of the building and all of the lights went out.
I sat there in the dark for a while trying to figure out what was going on. After a few minutes a voice close to me said, "Do you know Jack?" I said that I did. The voice said "Is he your friend?" I answered in the affirmative. The voice then said, "You are never going to see your friend again!" I was stunned in my dream and, then, something happened inside of me.
I asked "Is Jack alone?"
The answer was "Yes".
I continued, "Is he going to die?"
Then I said, "Can I see him now?"
"If you go to him now, you will die as well. Do you still want to see him?" I said that I did. That is when I woke up.
When I came to myself I had two deep impressions upon my mind. The first was, that for the first time in my life I thought that I really understood the sentiments of John Taylor in June of 1844 as his friend Joseph made his way to Carthage, Illinois, for the last time. John could not bear the thought of being anywhere else other than with his friend when Joseph lost his life. I had felt the same way in my dream. I could not bear the thought that my friend Jack would die alone if I did not go to him, even if it meant my own life hung in the balance.
The second insight that I had this morning was that I suddenly realized that I had never felt that way about anyone during the sixty-six years of my life, that I was willing to die so that a friend would not have to depart this world alone. What an odd and sobering revelation. It was somewhat bitter-sweet. One the one hand I was glad that I could have those feelings, that I was capable of them, even if it was only in a dream. On the other hand I wondered why I had not felt that way before about any of my friends, the good men that I had known over the years.
Jack Christianson and I do not socialize much. I have only seen him three or four times since I retired, so it seems odd that he would become the subject of my dream. Yet, I think I understand why. Jack and I shared a great deal independently. We had grown up in different parts of the world, served in the Church Educational System in differing ways, and yet our manner of thinking, our approach to resolving important issues were quite similar. It was as if we had been cut from the same bolt of cloth. We instantly enjoyed one another's company because of that which we had in common.
The lesson that I gained from all of this is that I do not believe that Jack Christianson is the only person on the earth for whom I would be willing to sacrifice my life. There are undoubtedly many others. I hope that I do not have to have a dream for each of them in order to realize their worth.