It was the year 1999 and Katie was nine years old growing up in Southern California. She had started developing anxiety around the fear of death. The anxiety started to grow quickly and it became debilitating. “I remember how my dad would invite me to go with him for evening Mass. I didn’t want to go because I thought, what if we got in a car accident and we all died? But then I would think, maybe I should go because I don’t want Dad to get in an accident by himself." The anxiety grew to a point where Katie was withdrawing from her activities. She had trouble sleeping if all her family members weren’t home at night. One night, Katie went to sleep and had a vivid dream that she will never forget. “I was dreaming I was in my home and it was just me and mom. We were playing and she was following me all around our house. At one point, we were even riding on Sea-Doos in our backyard. I remember feeling so joyful and at peace just playing with my mom."
"At one point, I took my eye off of my mom for a minute and I couldn’t find her. I started wandering all over the house and through the backyard looking for her. I eventually checked in the garage. It was dark so I opened the garage door a little to get some light. That was when I noticed this large crowd of people in our driveway. They were all pushing, trying to get to the front entryway of our home. I came out of the garage and tried to look in the direction of our front door but my view was blocked. I started squeezing through the crowd. When I got to the front, that was when I saw Him. Jesus. He sat on our front porch teaching the crowd of people. I went up to Him but didn’t say anything. He just looked at me and His eyes told me He knew exactly what I was going through. At that moment, He reached for the door, opened it a crack and pulled out my mom,” recounted Katie. "I felt this deep peace and God’s love for me. He was telling me that I didn’t need to be anxious. He was with me and I didn’t need to be afraid.” Suddenly, Katie's dream was interrupted and she was woken by a large 7.1 earthquake. It was the first earthquake she had ever experienced. She sat up and everything was shaking, even her bunk bed was swaying. She did what she was taught and headed for the doorway. As she walked across her room, the shaking stopped. She found her parents in the living room. Everyone was okay and Katie remembers telling her parents about her dream. “Within a matter of days of my dream, I realized that the anxiety that accompanied so many everyday experiences, and that I had tried to free myself from but couldn't, was gone. No more agonizing over short trips in the car for fear of car accidents and no more worrying about whether my parents would come home safe. I could return to spontaneity, unafraid of the many dangers that can sap our joy,” said Katie. “I went back to the carefree self that I had been before and I was grateful."
"I think as time has passed I've come to appreciate the profoundness of the gift. As an adult, I know how easily I could have taken that anxiety into adolescence and adulthood. I'm so grateful that I was freed of it at a young age.” As Katie has reflected over this experience, one part of her dream that always bothered her was that Jesus was sitting down on a stool on her front porch. She thought He would have been standing while teaching the crowd. That was normally how she saw teachers. However, as Katie moved through her undergraduate and graduate theology courses, she learned that Jesus would sit when He taught. It was a sign of authority. “If it was up to me and my imagination, He would have been standing,” said Katie. “When I think back on my dream, I recognize a real encounter with Jesus, one in which He chose to visit me when I was in a dark place." Katie says she can still vividly recall the enthusiasm of the crowd as they sought to see Jesus and hear His teaching. At times, it has caused her to ask herself, "Am I that enthusiastic for Our Lord?" "I can remember His loving gaze and how we didn't have to exchange any words. It is a constant reminder that He really does know all of my needs - even better than I do," said Katie. "The experience of the earthquake afterward confirmed for me that the devil wants nothing more than for us to be chained and one of his favorite tools for enslaving us is fear. Our God is not a God of fear. He is a God of peace and joy and carefree spontaneity. He has all the love for us that you could imagine a good father having for his children. When I think back on God's healing me in my dream and the devil's anger at my being set free, I remember that God never just frees us 'from' something but he also frees us 'for' something. I think he freed me so that I can fulfill the purpose for which he created me and, in gratitude, I ought to respond to that call," said Katie.
*Katie is a dynamic Catholic speaker especially as it relates to Scripture. To dive more into the Sunday Mass readings, check out her podcast, Sunday Dive, on her website. Reflection Questions Looking back on your life, have there been times you have experienced physical, spiritual or emotional healing? Katie describes how God not only frees us 'from' something but also 'for' something. What has God freed you ‘for’? How have you seen God's hand in the healing? In the suffering? How do you remain faithful and hopeful during times of physical, spiritual or emotional pain? "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me." -Ps. 23:4. How does this Psalm speak to you?