“Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. — Langston Hughes
I wake to a morning sky parfait, though I am unaware of it.
Instead, wrapped in my own private world, I’m focused on my unloaded dreams — where is that new dream journal? Before I can find the missing journal, I look out the back door to instead find a red-orange horizon resting under dark blue canvas resting under a striped double ribbon of true orange against true blue. The ribbon fades and swirls until it’s topped with Dreamsicle Orange. I devour this rare and lovely morning treat. Soon, the rising sun will melt its beauty.
Dreams melt away just as quickly. If I don’t record my dreams on paper in those first waking-up minutes, they slip back to wherever dreams live, buried deep under the more comfining thoughts of everyday life. So most days, even before I get out of bed, I grab my journal to record my freshly minted dreams. Weighting the strange disjointed images with words keeps dreams alive, so that I can ponder the images and messages under daylight.
What do our dreams tell us? Why am I investing part of Lenten morning devotion towards dream work? Oh, I have my reasons — three good ones, in fact.
The first is that my spiritual director invited me to take a look at my dreams for answers I’ve been seeking.
Then there’s this quote I ran across in a book I’m reading — Clyde H. Reid’s Dreams — Discovering Your Inner Teacher — that’s part of my spiritual direction coursework:
“Our dreams can show us who we are. In fact, they can sometimes show us ourselves unmercifully. If we really want to know ourselves in the deepest ways, we need to record and study our dreams carefully.”
Reading Reid’s words reminded me of a final reason, an invitation I heard from Pulitzer prize-winning author, Marilynne Robinson, a couple of years back, when she was here in Oklahoma to speak at one of our local universities. “Descend into self to write– discover your primary self — the beautiful, the true; it’s preparation for writing words worth saying.”
Though Reid’s book assures that dreams are not terribly hard to interpret — as long as we remember and record them in a sufficient level of detail — the hard part is remembering them. Every night I go to sleep asking God to help me remember. About half of the time I do . And oh, as I spill out dreams on paper, have I noticed some familiar faces — Ms. Perfect and Ms. Workaholic and Ms. Low Self-esteem — while comically wrestling with concerns that consume my waking hours.
My dreams are like an old Hollywood movie that jerks along with missing frames and little plot. Sitting in a darkened theater, I watch my dreams play out. I do not direct the scenes in which I am both actor and audience. Instead, my dream spins off the reel unfiltered, a poor sort of improvisational comedy. One scene leads to another — personal worlds collide — past, present and future merge and swirl as the dead and alive keep each other company.
Dreams are a brave new world of unedited truth. But under the dreams and under the truth, I believe, is a God that lies at the horizon between humus earth and the heavens, a God whose red hot love waits to burn up all the lies, known and unknown, that have become part of who I believe I am — but am not. Somewhere in my dreams, waits a God with the keys of true blue to set me free… … so that I can soar with childish abandon and joy that comes from keeping company with Dreamsicles.