Saturday, March 15, 2014

God's Gift of Dreams

Reflection on Scripture appointed for today in the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer.  This is one of four reflections I've written for a devotional booklet published for this season of Lent by The Pilgrimage at Saint James', of Saint James' Episcopal Church, Marietta, GA.

Genesis 41.7 And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. So in the morning his spirit was troubled.

My family had stopped the bus to stretch our legs.  Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, all climbed back on board, but Grandmother stretched out under a shady tree.  "I'm going to rest here," she said, turning towards green pastures that spanned the horizon.  "You all go on without me."  A ringing telephone startled me out of my dream, and it was Dad calling to tell me that Grandmother had just passed away.

Was the dream a message from God?  Or, was the dream just my mind's way of accepting that Grandmother's latest hospitalization would likely be her last? 

I don't see a practical difference: either way, dreams are God's gift.  The late priest and psychologist John Sanford wrote how dreams heal.  As my dream of grandmother did, dreams can bring comfort; or dreams can discomfort us with important observations about ourselves that we prefer not to acknowledge. Test the truth of this by asking fellow parishioners at coffee hour if they've ever dreamed of going to work naked, or of returning to school for a final exam in a long-forgotten subject. It doesn't take a Joseph or psychologist to see that these dreams are metaphors for feeling unprepared.

In Education for Ministry (EfM), we use metaphors to get a handle on difficult thoughts and feelings, inventing our own dreamscapes.  The dream reveals something if we just ask, "What's wrong in the world of this dream?  What could redeem it?"  The metaphor helps us to see real life in a fresh way. Then we look to scripture for stories analogous to our dream.

Brain-scans prove that we all dream; to recall our dreams often takes just the intention to remember.  A dream journal at bedside helps.

During this season of self-examination, let's pay attention to what God tells us in the night.

Psalms  55; 138,139.1-17(18-23)  Gen. 41.1-13   1 Cor. 4.1-7         Mark 2.23-3.6

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