What are you dreaming of at the moment? A white Christmas? A 2021 holiday in the sun? Many of us have been having more vivid nocturnal dreams in lockdown, but maybe not so many hopes and dreams for our lives. Those dreams, big and small, add colour and texture to life. Small dreams like where to go out this weekend, or what to eat or wear when I do. Big dreams can be plans for the coming year, be it a holiday of a lifetime or projects for work. Dreams are essential to our lives, they motivate us and bring joy. They make some of the more mundane but important tasks of life more bearable.
I remember hearing once that a homeless person spends so much time and energy surviving each day that they have little time or energy for dreams. I can imagine that the struggle to find food and money and shelter, the harsh elements and the dangers of the street must leave little room for love and relationships or fulfilling pursuits. While I am not going to be stupid enough to compare the experiences of this year with those of a homeless person, there is a certain parallel I have noticed.
It has been a mixed year, the lockdowns have brought benefits and challenges, while I have enjoyed a little more peace I have also struggled with isolation. This was particularly the case towards the end of lockdown one. I decided then that whatever happened I was going to survive this crisis whatever it took. I entered survival mode and realise that I am still in it! While surviving is essential, it is not necessarily living. I have lost sight of the dreams that energise my life, simply because I am determined to get through another day that is pretty similar to the day just gone. Have you found that?
The whole drama of social interaction, of looking our best, buying new clothes, getting our hair done, our nails etc all revolve around socialising. Much of our so called ‘non-essential’ life involves the joy of being human, of dreaming about small things. The groups we belong to, be they art or photography, sewing or singing, wine tasting or stamp collecting all involve things which excite us which drive our passions and make us who we are. I wonder if the fatigue and tiredness that many are feeling is due to the absence of these activities which give us small things to dream about?
Dreams can be inspired too. God can place dreams in our hearts, I find that is a way he speaks to me. I always take note when a new dream, plan or project arises in my heart for the parish. Is it from God? If so, what is he saying? Dreams can bring hope, hope of fulfilment, they give us something to strive towards. At the moment as we are living day by day, week by week and it is hard to dream. In the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 we hear how there is a time for everything, maybe this is a time for surviving and the time of dreams will come again.
While dreams can bring hope, we are certainly not without hope at the moment but it is a different hope. The hope of a fulfilled dream or desire is one thing, the hope of freedom and salvation is another. Often we can get wrapped up in the fulfilment of our own dreams and they can sometimes get in the way of Gods dreams and plans for us. It seems that now we are called to wait on him to be our hope, to be our strength. It seems that we are in a period of enforced purification. By having our own desires and fulfilment curbed we are made to wait on God, not to give us dreams but to be our loving Father, to be our rock, our joy. It is a time in which we are invited to draw close to Him. Each of us will be richer for it, if we can just be! Although we can dream a little this Christmas, let us not forget the call of this time, to be with God and discover the power of his presence in our lives!