Tuesday, December 30, 2014

When Dreams of Angels Are Muddled

I've had angels on the brain--it is Christmas, after all.  Week after week, we have heard texts of angels appearing:  first to Mary, then to Elizabeth and Zachariah, then to Joseph, then to the shepherds.  These are not angels which can be domesticated.

One of my favorite photos that I took at the Mepkin Abbey gift shop is this basket of angels.  Was I looking for angels that I can control?

Last night, I had the kind of dream that makes me wonder if God is speaking to me.  I dreamed that I was in a car with some church officials.  One of them asked, "Have you made any decisions yet?"  "About what?" I stammered. 

"You were thinking about seminary."

Oh yeah, that.  I almost forgot.  The rest of the dream had me wandering around a church camp that looked like the luggage of the campers had exploded:  clothes lined every path.  I walked into a chapel where a men's choir was playing a piece written by my husband, a piece for strings, including a dulcimer.  Everywhere I saw evidence that people I've known spiritually were close, even if I wasn't sure exactly where they were:  for example, I saw food tagged in a refrigerator with names of people I've known from the Create in Me retreat and earlier college days.

Ordinarily, I'd wake up from such a dream and say, 'What interesting ways my subconscious keeps itself amused when I'm asleep!"  But having spent part of yesterday writing about angels and the ways that it must be tough for angels to get the attention of 21st century moderns (see this blog post), I'm perhaps more alert for the messages of angels than usual.

When I think about the angel messages of Christmas, I think about the clarity of the message.  Or is that just how it has been told to us through the ages?

Did Joseph wake up and find himself teasing out the meaning of the strange dreams for days afterwards?  Did some of the shepherds stay behind because even though they'd see angel choirs singing, they didn't necessarily agree that it meant that a journey was in order?

My thoughts turn to the angels themselves.  I also think of all the literature where angels do not look at all like the humans expect them to look, and thus, the message is compromised.  Or, as in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," is there even a message?

And then I wonder if these angel stories set us up for disappointment.  We imagine that it was easy for Joseph and Mary and the magi and all those people who get such direct instructions.  We yearn for such a message for ourselves.

But history shows us that even when humans get such messages, it's rare that we follow.  We spend a lot of time watching for messages, even when we have plenty of directives all around us.  We spend much less time figuring out how to respond to God, when God calls.

No comments: