I awakened this morning after a raucous night of dreams. None of them are worth the telling here, but they did keep tossing and turning on a very rolling sea of sleep, keeping slumber from refreshing me. The Beve never remembers his dreams, but I have a catalog of them in my head from as far back as elementary school years. Really, I only remember one from that long ago, but it was a doozy!--about a giant tree eating our brand new pound puppy, Prince, who was the first of the black and white dogs who have populated my life. Anyway, I woke up in a fright after that dream. I remember that, and rushing to find him where he slept near the kitchen in our house in Michigan. That was a long time, and about a million dreams, ago.
Once in high school, I dreamed that I married the boy across the street. The wedding was right in our own house, where I had to walk up the stairs for the ceremony and the house across the street where my would-be groom lived was decorated with pink and blue balloons in their tree in their front yard. I woke up from that dream and thought it utterly ridiculous--that I would ever cast my eyes, even asleep, in the direction of that tall, pidgeon-toed classmate. I remember that dream especially well because ten years later I was tempted to ask the Beve's mom to tie balloons in their tree on our May wedding day (but I restrained myself), and thought my dream rather stunningly prophetic, at least in terms of groom.
When my children were little, my dreams were flooded with worries, from fire in our house (because they slept on the second floor, and I was on the first...) to the actual end of the world where I was responsible for seeing them to the safety of eternity while Beve was out fighting on the front lines in the army of God. Seriously, I had dreams like this, swhich probably just show that I took my spiritual role as their mother very seriously.
After my dad died, I had many dreams about him but one particularly powerful. In fact, to tell the truth, I've never been quite convinced that it was just a dream. One morning I dreamed that my family was driving on a road in a large car--likely a Suburban, like the ones we always owned--my mother at the wheel. On a gravel road, in a fairly desolate landscape stood a tree--a eucalyptus tree, to be precise-- like a sentinel overlooking the rough hills. Beneath it sat my dad. It wasn't a dreamlike dad, but my very real dad, dressed in his familiar sneakers, red and white striped polo shirt and faded blue corduroy pants. And when he saw our vehicle, he walked up to it, and stuck his hand through the open window where I sat, and he grasped my hand, the glint of his familiar watch shining in the sun, his strong wide fingers gripping mine firmly. He said, "I'm fine, and you'll be fine too. But you have to go now." Then he pulled his hand from mine and backed away. My fingers stretched out toward him as Mom, who hadn't once looked at us, drove away. I woke from that dream, already crying, and Beve, who was dressing for work, came over to my side of the bed and asked me what was wrong. "I saw my dad," I said. That's really how it felt--that I'd seen him and he'd said those words.
A couple years after that, I dreamed about a farm family in the Palouse--none of whom I knew. When I awakened from that dream, I knew I had to write their story, to discover what happened to them after those moments that I watched in my dream. It was the genesis for my October Afternoon, which I'm still revising.
A powerful moment, and a powerful way to get an idea. Ever since, when I'm really struggling with a scene, I let it go, go to sleep, and often when I awaken, I've worked out the difficulty and can write the scene well. It isn't that I've ever dreamed of them again, but somehow, my subconscious--and God!--are working while I sleep.
Dreams. I know there are people who place great importance on them. And others who think that every dream is simply the result of something one ate the night before, or whatever else is going on, with no meaning whatsoever. But I've had too many dreams that have counted in my life, and I've learned that sometimes God speaks when I'm sleeping. After all, He tells us He will. Scripture is full of dreams--both awake and asleep. Joseph in the Old Testament was a revealer of such dreams to the men he was in prison with. And another Joseph dreamed himself of becoming Jesus' earthly father, and of how to care for Him.
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people,
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams.
Your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days..." Joel 2:28
I expect the Spirit to work in any way He wishes--in my awake life and in my sleeping one. It isn't that I think every dream means something. A giant tree never ate my dog, after all. And sometimes, they really just are indigestion. But that dream about my dad? I believe God let him speak to me, tell me something I really needed to hear. To comfort, but also push me on my way toward healing from the deep cut of losing him. So I believe in dreams. There's a certain quality, at least for me, when He is present, and has something to say. After all, who am I to limit the way He reveals Himself--to me or anyone else?