Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dream Journal as Prayer Book

During my retreat week away, I kept bumping up against the idea of tracking my dreams.  At first I resisted:  "One more thing to add to my morning?  I don't have enough time for the morning activities I treasure, and you want me to add more?"

But as the week went on, and as I came across this suggestion on an almost daily basis, I decided to listen.  What would happen if I kept a dream journal?  Would I discern God speaking to me?  Would I discern the yearnings of a self I've driven underground?

The Create in Me retreat this year had the theme "Dreams and Visions," and the Bible study focused on Jacob.  Our Bible study leader, the Bishop of the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Synod, reminded us that the Bible is full of stories of God speaking to people through dreams, and yet our modern generation has rejected the idea that God might speak to us through dreams.

He talked about his own experiences keeping a dream journal and how powerful the experience was.  I got tangled up in logistics:  should I write by hand?*  Over a meal, I asked the bishop how he would do it.  He said that he had written by hand, but now he would use the computer. Then he laughed ruefully and said, “Actually I’d probably use my phone.”

And then he said the nugget that got me thinking:  he said that he'd do the dream journal first thing in the morning, as part of his prayer time.

I'm not sure I'm using the approach he would use.  I'm still using Phyllis Tickle's version of the liturgy of the hours, The Divine Hours.  And then I write down my dreams.

Is God speaking to me?  Well, it's been less than 2 weeks, so I don't know.  I tend to discount some dreams, like the one I had last night, where I walked into the kitchen, and I said, “I thought we washed these dishes.” The dirty dishes in my dream were exactly the ones we washed just before bed in real life.

I tend to see that kind of dream as my brain being too tired to come up with anything better than imitating "real life."  But what might God be trying to tell me?  Something about repetition?  Something about thinking I have a situation cleaned up, but I don't?

And in terms of using my dream journal as part of my prayer life--what should I do now?  Pray for discernment, yes.  And perhaps to use my dreams as prompts for what God wants me to focus upon and then to talk about when I pray.

Will there be more?  Stay tuned!

*I've decided to write out my dreams on the computer.

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