Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dreams and Visions

Rachel Barenblat has an intriguing post on Jewish thoughts about what happens while we sleep:  "The Talmud teaches that sleep is 1/60th of death. When we go to sleep, our tradition teaches, we place our souls in God's keeping -- and when we rise and sing the modah ani, we thank God for restoring them to us and for the gift of another day. Sleep means letting go of whatever we've been carrying all day, and letting go of control. When we sleep we have to trust that our hearts will go on beating and that the world will keep on turning."

I've been haunted by my dreams.  One night I dreamed I was pregnant.  It was June, and I was due in July, but I wasn't very big.  I was thinking of all the things I should be doing to get ready to leave work:  getting the Fall schedule ready, hiring adjuncts, straightening my office.  I was walking to my car across a campus that isn't mine, and I had to pick my way carefully across a construction site.  The school campus was just a wreck.

The night before that dream, I dreamed I was trying to walk safely away from a highway.  I could see the lovely neighborhood with cafes and bookstores where I needed to be, but I was kept from getting there by overpasses and chain link fences and whizzing traffic.

If I was a character in a book dreaming such things, you'd lob criticism at the writer for being so obvious.  I woke up thinking that my subconscious was not being very original.

Am I longing to be pregnant?  No--but I do wish to be incubating something new.  Do I know how to get there?  No.  I have glimmerings, but I can't quite figure out the way from here to there.

And yet, my dreams were hopeful.  In my pregnancy dream, I had just come back from a well-baby pregnancy check up with good news that my yet-to-be-born baby was fine.  In the highway dream, I was able to hop over guard rails to avoid traffic.

Like I said, my dreaming brain may not be very original.  But maybe my dreaming brain worried that if it sent me subtle dreams, I'd miss the meaning.  Maybe my brain decided to be blaringly obvious.

I'm grateful to my dreaming brain.

And the theologian part of me thinks of the God who speaks to humans in dreams and visions.  If my recent dreams have been communications from God, I'm grateful.  They're not quite as obvious as some of the dreams in the holy texts:  no voice saying, "Get up and leave now before the evil dictator arrives."  I'm grateful for that too.

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