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In Walt Disney’s original production of “Snow White” there is a beautiful song that tells us “a dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.”
I once had a plaque that reminded me: “Today’s dreams are tomorrow’s realities.”
The Man of La Mancha sang, “Dream the impossible dream!” Martin Luther King announced hope to overflowing crowds of enslaved blacks in his four words, “I have a dream!” As a child, I loved to play the piano piece “Beautiful Dreamer.”
All of us could cite many instances of dreams—and the realities they bear—because the truth is our dream world exposes the “real us” we often hide with the masks of everyday living. Dreams occur when we let go of our practicality and free our imagination from the chains of all the “coulds”...”shoulds”...and “ought tos” we impose upon ourselves and others. Dreams break open the boundaries of time and space, of probability and possibility. Dreams allow God to speak to us in the unrestricted ways that we make impossible in our wide-awake world.
When we pay attention to our dreams, Sheldon B. Kopp tells us we “discover that we are often wiser when we dream than when we are awake...The dreamer is not distracted by the conventional wisdom of other people’s perspectives and expectations. We sometimes see most clearly when our eyes are closed.” [If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!]
Sometimes we tend to think of dreams in terms of psychology, psychiatry and Sigmund Freud. However, scripture is filled with episodes of dreams, dreamers, visions. No less that 80 times do we read about dreams. The real truth is learned from them.
Joseph, the son of Jacob, and Joseph, the husband of Mary, experienced the truths contained in dreams. Both were sent on journeys that caused them pain, anxiety and deepened faith. Both were able to encourage others to be transformed because they believed in the God who speaks to us in dreams. In their faith, deepened in dreams, they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, too, had a dream. It was called impossible, improbable and totally impractical. He dreamed of a kingdom where God would reign supreme, a kingdom which would not need to be awaited but would live now, in the hearts of men and women. Jesus dreamed of freedom from all kinds of slavery. He dreamed of a life that, though it would have darkness, would be lived without fear. He dreamed of a people who would be attentive to and attuned to the sound of the shepherd’s voice. He dreamed that God’s people would allow God to lead them in the path of divinity. He dreamed that they might know the strength of God’s outstretched hand and find joy in the light of God’s presence—always and forever. Jesus dreamed of giving beyond all measure. He dreamed of dying so that all might live in his dream.
Jesus dreamed—and lived his dream now that we might all be able to share in his vision and his real presence among us. He dreamed and promised that he would continue to share that dream in every way we needed to have it shared so that we would be dreamers, too.
He knows us. He knows our needs and desires. Jesus believes in us even when we fail to believe in ourselves. He promises to stay with us, no matter what we say or do and no matter what we fail to say or do. Nothing will chase him away. No matter what we think of him, no matter how disgusted we become with ourselves, Jesus stays. His staying power continues to invite us to follow him.
He continues to dream in us, with us, and through us. His dream has broken through the barriers of time and space. It stretches into eternity. To impress that promise upon us, the evangelist John writes, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father is greater than all...and there is no snatching out of his hand. The Father and I are one.”
Jesus, the Christ, dreams. He invites us to dream with him and become ever wiser in the ways of the Lord. He invites us to live in our darkness with hope. He speaks to us and urges us to hold fast to the God’s gracious presence. He asks that we look to see what God is revealing to us—and in us—each day of our lives. He prays that we will allow ourselves to be generous. He hopes that we will see beyond the limitations of this moment, this day, this wish. He calls us to see tomorrow in all of our todays.
Jesus, the Christ, does not dream of a “pie-in-the-sky” kind of heaven which makes us endure earth until it is no more. He dreams of God’s kingdom at hand, now, in our midst. He sees, and asks that we see, huge crowds of humans, uncountable numbers of people from every nation, race, creed—people speaking every language imaginable—coming together as the people of God. He sees they have survived all the trials and suffering that resulted from their faithful commitment to God. They have survived, not because of who they are but because of who God is. He sees they will never again know hunger or thirst, death or disease because God is wiping away every tear from their eyes, every ounce of anger from their hearts.
Dream that impossible dream. Let it be a wish your heart makes when you are fast asleep. Then, wake up. Awaken to the reality that the dream is alive when we are alive. We are beautiful dreamers who are not distracted by the conventional wisdom of other people’s perspectives and expectations, but see most clearly with our eyes closed to illusions and wide open to the truth and beauty of our Dreamer God.
Stand in the midst of all who scream “be reasonable” and shout for all the world to hear, “I have a dream!”
Fran Salone-Pelletier has a master’s degree in theology and is the author of “Awakening to God: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives” [a trilogy of Scriptural meditations], lead chaplain at Brunswick Community Hospital, religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer and grandmother of four. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.