What Dreams May Come

It's about 3:30AM Sunday morning right now. The only reason I'm here in front of the computer and not asleep is because I woke from a very realistic and powerful dream. Wanting to savor and share the experience, I got out of bed, made a ham/pepperoni & cheese sandwich, fired up the notebook, and decided to write it all down.

Mmmm, I do love pepperoni.

For the first time in my life, I had a dream that I was up at the alter. It wasn't a flashback to when I was an alter-server, however it occurred in the same church where I attended years ago. The lights were out, the pews were filled, and from the back I started walking and talking. I realized I was walking towards the alter and giving an homily.

I remember talking about how this was my home parish and how this is where my faith formation really began. This is where my first priest (the first one that I really connected with) talked about living your faith outside of the church, as well as helping others in the community. I explained how this place was where God first saw fit to call me towards a religious life.

Most dreams about public speaking are essential nightmares. I've heard people talk about a dream where they found themselves at a podium as the keynote speaker for some topic they know nothing about. In school, I've heard of the dream where you're called to give a speech/book report. Neither of those sound like a fun experience.

Yet in my dream, I was calm and spoke with ease. The ideas flowed from my mouth(subconscious) without a gap. I remembered how my priest used to speak with candor during his homilies, and I carried on as he did. I was completely amazed by it.

As I continued to walk forward, I saw a person sitting in a pew wearing a mitre. Instantly I knew what that meant: somebody important was here! As I passed the pew, I saw a man who resembled Bishop Walter Hurley (bishop of the Grand Rapids Diocese) sitting with his shoulders slumped and his hand on his crosier. He looked either humbled or discontent, I couldn't tell. I was trying to pay attention to what I was talking about, after realizing that someone higher up was watching me. I'll get back to this part later.

(Most Rev. Hurley with newly 7 newly ordained Dominican priests.)

By the time I made it to the pulpit, I was talking about including prayer in our daily lives. I remember saying how prayer was "...more than just 10 Hail Mary's and an Our Father." I was talking about how prayer is actually taking time to sit and communicate with God or just be in His presence. I remember talking about how we could better enrich our lives and those around us if we spent more time in prayer each day. (Note: I have nothing against praying the Rosary, however repetitive prayers are hard for me to connect to God. I prefer the more spontaneous.)

I looked at the crowd of people sitting in the pews, and realized that it was a congregation I'd never seen before. There were no older parishioners or well-dressed church goers. The were all the same, but the most visual faces I remember were those in the front row: minorities that looked like bums or drug addicts. These people looked like they belonged out on the street, not inside a church. Yet as I looked, I realized they were all enraptured with what I was talking about. There was no one looking down at their missal or checking their watch. I could see I was connecting with them; they looked like they might applaud when I was finished.

That is when the dream falls apart and I wake up. I remember one of the parishioners asking me to "hold up a sec" while she ran to the bathroom, and then the dream fades as I wake up. In those waking moments, I remember a sense of sadness that it was only just a dream.

The dream holds thousands of interpretations: I am comfortable with the idea of talking spirituality with other people, it reflects my desire to help those less fortunate, or that St. James (the church in my dreams) is actually where I first felt called towards the priesthood; something I need to the last chapter of my autobiography.

As for the bishop, perhaps that was my subconscious longing for the diocesan priesthood saying: "Hey, don't forget about me!" Everything started with the idea of a parish priest, yet my journey has taken me on several detours from that original premise. While I feel I'm on the right path now, maybe that cowered guy dressed in full garb is my guilt at not staying in the diocese, or my subconscious reminding me of the email I got from the diocesan vocations director, telling me of the next Gifted and Called meeting he's having.

It's all very interesting and confusing. I think I'll turn off the notebook and try to get back to bed.

One last thing: I remember walking halfway down the isle, seeing the bishop, then turning back to hit the lightswitch. The church was illuminated and I continued with the homily. Perhaps that has something to do with it as well.

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1 Response to What Dreams May Come

January 20, 2008 at 5:36 PM

I've had really intense dreams which have had elements and lessons that happened in real life. Sometimes dreams really mean something because God does speak to us through them when He chooses. Most of the time, dreams are just fluff.

One of the things an SD I had in the past said to do was to take my dream, write it down in a certain way, remembering as much detail as possible...and ask Jesus what it meant (during Adoration). That's where I really learned to dialogue with the Lord. The priest who was my SD at the time was a very holy priest, charismatic, but very orthodox, not given to New Age ideas, and offered no interpretations. He basically used the dream I'd had to help me develop my relationship with Christ and learn to "listen" with my heart and soul, not with my ears. Send me an email if you'd like more detail on the way the "dream interpreation" came about...it might be something you'd want to do with such a powerful dream.

Anyway, just a comment on the rosary; I had a hard time praying the rosary, also because of the repetition. But there is so much value in this weapon that finally I began saying it every day, while driving to work. I still do this, most days, and so having that specific time helps. And while my meditations on the mysteries aren't always great, or even focused, I'm finding that I can do a number of things while praying the rosary because it has become more habitual. I've heard that JP2 CONSTANTLY prayed the rosary, even as he carried on conversations and did other things, because it was as second nature as breathing...and yet it was true prayer. His mind was always on Our Lady and Jesus Christ.

But you're right; that's not the only form of prayer, and all too often people get hung up on saying prayer by rote, just getting through the words, but never really engaging with God. It is so important to have that time of silent dialogue, and just sitting with the Lord, letting Him love us. Often love has no words; it is simply being together in silence and desiring union.

I've found that the icon of the Trinity has greatly aided my prayer, even in liturgy, because I can call the image to mind in order to understand that union we are seeking with God, to become part of the Divine processions.