Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dream Houses

When does God sleep? It is a wonderful childlike question with an equally simple answer: He doesn’t. Today my morning advent reading declared, “and he waits anxiously for us to wake up.” I believe in his excitement, playfulness and care that often God does not wait for us to wake from slumber, but instead whispers to us through our dreams.

Last night was a major dream night for me. I think most nights are, in fact, filled with dreams, but this morning I chose to lay still for a while and tend my dreams—to listen and ponder what they had to say. This particular dream world was filled with houses of all shapes, sizes and impressions. While the dreams did not seem remotely spiritual in the moment, I cannot get away from the holy images that fill my mind as I write in the light of day.

The first house was made of white brick. It had been stripped down to the bare bones, but was still standing after what looked like an internal bomb or blast of fire had exploded. The walls were charred with soot, but the house stood firmly on its solid foundation. It was truly a house built on rock.

Next came the house with many rooms. A feast was being prepared but the food I offered was not well received. I had the sense that what I brought was not my best. It seemed to be an afterthought as if I were just trying to get by with a minimal offering. Now, in the waking hours, I am reminded of the joy I experience when I do bring my best and don’t worry about how others will receive my gifts. I am warmed with the sense of my complexity as a woman with many rooms in my house. Some days I can fill the largest banquet hall and other days my best may more closely resemble a simple broom closet. There are always many rooms waiting to be explored.

Another house seemed very comfortable and it was a place I longed to linger. In the yard was a magnificent fruit tree bearing huge berries. This is an image that has become closely identified with me in my dreams, collage work and poetry. ‘I am the luscious berry, bursting with flavor.’ This is an image that delights me.

Still one more house spoke of large ugly beams and cold concrete floors that were not visually welcoming. There seemed to be an urgency to cover up what was not aesthetically pleasing. I am aware, however, that the beams and concrete are foundational to the strength of the structure. If they are taken away, the house will collapse into a heap.

In the final house, there was a choice to be made. I could enter the yard through the gate or I could go into the garage. There was a man leading the way who gave off the essence of good and evil simultaneously. The first time I pondered this dream I thought he was Jesus, but now it feels like he represents the holy and evil that reside in me.

Using the gate at first glance appeared to be a poor choice because it would cause me to be soaked by a sprinkler. The path through the garage was safe and dry but it was a dead end. There was no way out, so I would remain trapped and shut away from the world. A second look at the narrow gate revealed the sprinkler water to be holy and representative of baptism. Often I wake up from dreams before I feel like I am at the end. The delightful result of this dream is that I did not awaken before I made the choice to get wet and experience the water’s cleansing.

God is an amazing God of creativity and infinite possibility. He speaks to me in my dreaming hours and gives me the choice of whether or not I listen to him in the waking time. He offers many houses in which to live. The rooms are always there for me, but sometimes it takes a secret passageway to enter (like something discovered through a dream.) I am not always aware of the door that sits right before me. It reminds me of another Lucy stumbling through the wardrobe that led to Narnia—a magical other world. I am so glad that God does not sleep; that he is mindful of me all hours of the day and night. I hope I will choose to remain mindful of him.

“He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep.” Psalm 121:3

photos by bill hughlett

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