DaRT: Pictures, Play, and Prophecies

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

“Hey Julie, you won’t believe this picture!” As we hop onto the train Abby plops down next to me and, with a wide grin, flashes a photo on her smartphone. I peek with curiosity, then stare in amazement.

Daisies. A beautiful spray of white daisies, their snowy petals flowing out from brilliant sunlike cores, executed in bold paint strokes. And looking exactly like the daisy that drifted into my mind when, two evenings before, our Firestarters class spoke prophecies over Bonnye. A daisy I risked speaking up about . . . only to receive a rather puzzled, though kind, response from Bonnye.

“Last night I felt led to draw Bonnye a prophetic picture,” Abby explains after describing the class in prophetic art she and Cheryl had taken a couple weeks ago. “I had no idea what God was leading me to draw. Just started making scribbles. . . . Then I heard God telling me to paint them. This surprised me, since I usually do comic-strip sketches. But I started splashing paint on my scribbles, not paying much attention to what I was doing. When I finally stopped and looked down and saw those daisies, I was amazed as you are!”

The group marvels still further as Abby shows them a second photo of her completed painting . . . a swirl of colorful flowers that reflect the prophetic visions of everyone in the Firestarters class who spoke words over Bonnye.

I never get prophetic pictures. That’s what I always assumed and told people . . . at least up until the past several weeks, when God has repeatedly proved me wrong. But this evening is the first time my assumption will be tested on a DaRT ride to downtown Dallas.

As the train chugs out its station, Brandy surveys the other four of us. “Okay, guys, do any of you have a sense of where tonight’s location is to be?”

“The cathedral off of Pearl Street.” Henry speaks up without hesitation. “I’ve had a very clear sense of that location ever since last Tuesday.”

Natalie nods. “That only makes sense, since we’ve gotten pictures about that cathedral several times already . . . and we still haven’t yet checked it out.”

“Let’s close our eyes and see what pictures come to mind right now,” Brandy suggests.

On earlier trips, I’d receive nothing. But this evening . . .

It pops at once before my inner eyes. A circular window, sparkling with intricate multicolored sections of stained glass. Followed by a cross. And, drifting in the background, the melody and lyrics of “Salve Regina,” a hymn honoring Mary I learned years ago from a Catholic friend. Hail, Queen of mercy and of grace . . .

Moments later I share my picture with the others, though for some reason I hold back from mentioning the song.

Later on, Abby too will share that she also received a confirmation at that moment. “Today was totally about obedience,” she’ll text to Brandy. “When we were listening for direction on the train, I heard distinctly, ‘Arts District.’

“I didn’t want to voice it due to my fear,” she’ll confess, explaining it’s because of her co-workers with the theater in that area. But she’ll add, speaking of God, “He took us there and tested my willingness to listen and follow.”

The New English Cathedral—nestled in the Arts District several blocks west of Pearl Street—is confirmed as our location.

“I also received a vision of play,” Natalie shares. “I saw a group of us letting loose, just spinning and laughing in that natural, uninhibited way kids have before they get taught and corrected by adults. I think God is telling us to have fun tonight being His kids.”

As we disembark at Pearl Street and head toward the cathedral, I’m wondering over the accuracy of my own vision. Though I’ve visited this church a couple times before with Catholic friends, my memory of its architectural details proves virtually non-existent. But when we draw nearer, I see it right away. Above the building’s massive front doors, the same round window—its glistening shards of stained glass reflecting burnt-orange sunset—I’d pictured earlier in my mind.

And shooting up from the cathedral’s roof, a cross. Well, it’s carved from stone and curved into an ornate medieval shape, unlike the plain wooden cross in my mental picture. But still my immediate sight of both these landmarks strikes me as more than coincidence.

Yet the cathedral seems deserted . . . almost.

Brandy bounds up to a blond man in that area, strolling casually toward the corner of our block. “I’m from Nashville,” Ray shares in a cheerful tone after she introduces herself and the rest of us to him. “We moved here only six weeks ago. . . . I’m the new manager of a Dallas radio station in the Uptown area.” When Brandy questions him about specific prayer needs, his eyes narrow with seeming suspicion. “Why do you ask? Are you guys Christians or something?” But on hearing her affirmative answer, he relaxes, smiles, and surprises me with his response. “I’m a Christian too.”

The group blesses Ray’s radio station, that through it he can “be a light to the people in the Uptown area.”

“That’s exactly what I want to be,” Ray assures us. “But you know, Uptown folks are hard to reach. There’s a group of Christians who stand out in that area every day and pass out tracts, and—though I know these folks have the best intentions—the next day I see those tracts scattered all across the sidewalk. Uptown people will trust you only if you get to know them, develop real relationships with them. They need to know that you care about them personally.”

“Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, man.” Abby steps forward with dancing eyes. “That’s just what I’ve found out about my friends in the theater and in the gay community. They’ll listen if they know I really care about them, that even if I don’t agree with their lifestyle I still accept them and love on them as individuals.”

After exchanging cheery goodbyes with Ray—who we’ve found out manages the Christian station KCBI, where Henry will later on send a note thanking Ray for letting us pray for him—we draw nearer to the cathedral.

And next pray for . . .

Well, nobody I can see.

The only two humans present are carved from majestic snowy marble. In a lush garden grotto, surrounded by flickering votive candles, a small figure kneels and bows— forehead pressed against his lap—before an image of Mary that towers far above him.

“Idolatry!” Shouting out the word, Brandy darts over to both statues with Natalie pounding at her heels. The two DaRT co-leaders begin circling and touching the marble figurines, lips moving in silent prayer.

I cringe at the word, hang back from joining their prayers. It’s not idolatry, I protest mentally. My oldest friends often visit this cathedral for evening Mass. And they are Spirit-filled believers, true followers of Jesus.

Yet studying statues and candles, I again hear the strains of “Salve Regina,” the Mary-honoring hymn that wound about my earlier pictures on the train, seep into my mind. It’s a haunting melody, one of my favorite Catholic songs. Yet isn’t hearing it now—before this strangely exalted image of Jesus’ mother—more than mere coincidence?

Certainly my own Catholic friends don’t worship Mary. The Catholic church doesn’t formally teach that . . . any more than Protestants are taught to worship the Bible, or Spirit-filled believers some spiritual gift. Yet throughout all denominations of the church, any believer can—and sometimes does—fall into the trap of some kind of idolatry.

I don’t consider this at the moment. Only later on, as we again board our train, will I reflect back with sadness over my momentary resistance to joining in with Brandy’s and Natalie’s prayers. To realize they were right to engage in spiritual battle over that small grotto. And to learn, even later, that Natalie was praying for Jesus’ truth to be revealed to whoever came to seek Him in that grotto . . . whether they knew they were seeking Him or not. “That He would blow them away with His presence and even blow out the candles to prove Himself,” she added with a smile. “Wouldn’t that be an amazing sight?”

We find no more living people with whom to pray. But some of us do find people with whom to chat—Henry a family of old friends headed off for a picnic lunch at a nearby park, Abby and Brandy a coffee-shop employee and a knot of construction workers whose building plans they find intriguing.

And true to Natalie’s vision on the train, we do find time to play.

In front of a new theater building a few blocks down from the cathedral, huge blocks of blue Styrofoam form the letters B and G. A sidewalk plaque installed in a gap between these letters invites passersby to stand there and become the letter I . . . so spelling out the word BIG.

The explanatory inscription: Big things are happening here.

The inscription refers to the theater under construction behind this landmark. But when Brandy slips into place between the two adult human-sized letters, grinning while Natalie and Abby snap her photo, we trust the message has an even bigger meaning.

Big things are happening on the DaRT ministry.

And in God’s Kingdom.

For the moment, though, God seems to be calling us to play.

To giggle as we take turns posing between, beside, behind, and before both giant spongy blue letters.

To delight, on our stroll back to the train stop, in the beauty of a cotton-candy sunset wafting down over the purpling horizon.

And in the huge balloon we see soaring overhead, carrying a living human passenger in its hanging basket.

And later, on the train ride home, in math jokes. Such as, “There are 10 kinds of people in the world—those who understand binary and those who don’t.” Or, “There are three kinds of people in the world—those who can count and those who can’t.”

But back at Pearl Station, before we board the train, it’s again time for prayer . . . as well as for prophecies and pictures.

Brandy nudges me. “Are you receiving any prophetic pictures for that teenage boy?” She indicates a dark-haired youth, absorbed in texting as he perches on a nearby bench.

I close my eyes. Nothing.

“Whoops, there’s our train.” A streak of disappointment tinges Brandy’s voice as we hurry to hop aboard. But inside, the moment we are seated—

“Hey, there he is again. The boy got on the train too! Let’s try to hear from God about him one more time.”

When I close my eyes this time, I do see something.

A cylinder-shaped object. With a whirling brush on its end.

Followed by a fan with spinning blades.

“I saw a goat cropping grass,” Brandy shares, “determined to go after every mouthful till he got it all eaten. He was very tenacious.” And after I share my picture and we listen once again she adds, “I see the brush clearing away debris, making sure to reach every last scrap. Again, being tenacious. And I see the fan as powered by the Holy Spirit, lending the brush strength in its cleaning.” She grins, nods toward the boy. “Shall we go sit by him and share our visions?”

My heart skips a beat as I agree.

Brandy does all the introducing, questioning, and sharing. I still choose to sit and listen . . . though I’m thrilled to know pictures sent to me are also being used. Through the clamor of the chugging train, I catch only bits and pieces of the conversation. But what I do hear floods me with excitement. With sparkling eyes and a smile of surprise, young Jason admits, “Yeah, I’d call myself very tenacious.”

“He claimed to be an atheist,” Brandy tells me after their encounter. “He said, ‘I can’t believe anything is real that I don’t see, hear, or feel.’ So I asked him, ‘What about the fact I told you something about yourself I couldn’t possibly know, having never met you before?’

“He said that gave him something to think about. And he welcomed my offer to pray for him, letting me bless him as he enters his junior year of high school.”

Pictures, play, and prophecies. Though tonight only two living human Treasures received prayer, I could see how God spoke to us, confirming all His plans for us this evening. He has shown me still more clearly how His voice, not my own, plants real visions in my mind. Yet while freeing me to celebrate these prophecies and pictures with playfulness and laughter, He reminds me that He—not the wonders He shares—is the ultimate Cause for celebration.



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