Context: In dreams, I very rarely say or do anything overtly Christian, which seems both surprising and sad.
Yesterday morning I woke from a complicated, stressful dream, longing to pray. However, even before I could begin, this blog started to arrive. I tried hard to ignore it, which was impossible. It quickly became so loud and insistent that I had to give in, and write it down, like this:
I want to be a Christian In my dreams,
To turn to you, and pray, Lord,
In my dreams;
To ask for your forgiveness
In my dreams,
Love others, Lord, and serve you – In my dreams.
I want to be a Christian In my dreams,
So I can praise and thank you
In my dreams;
To revel in your presence
In my dreams,
And welcome all that happens – In my dreams.
I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
Then I will see your face, Lord,
In my dreams.
I’ll worship without ceasing
In my dreams,
And live in heaven on earth, Lord – In my dreams.
Well, since my most recent failure I’ve thought hard about rosary-making, watched some more YouTube videos, talked with my friend in the UK, and had a Zoom consultation with a lovely consecrated Sister who knows her rosaries. Then I threw the (metaphorical) rule-book into the (metaphorical) bin, and put together my own way of doing it, with the following result:
It seems very strong, and I’m tempted to ask my husband to test its joints, but don’t yet feel quite tough enough to deal with the disappointment if it immediately comes apart like the last one. Maybe I’ll ask him tomorrow….
NB: In the end, I plucked up my courage, he tested it, and it’s still in one piece so far!
Just before settling down to sleep that night I attached my night-cross to my wrist, as always. Then I asked God to be with me in my dreams (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-cHj). I started doing this recently because of a spate of nightmares, probably due to a new medication I was taking. Finally, I switched off the light and went to sleep.
I dreamed I was in a small, wooden boat, being rowed down a flooded street. Initially, the water was calm.
Then water began to pulse into the street, each wave higher and rougher than the one before, until the water became a rolling, boiling chaos.
Again and again, tons of water towered above me as the boat was tossed around. Soon waves began to break over me, swamping the boat. I was terrified, and started to scream repeatedly.
A dream within a dream
Then, within the dream, I slowly woke, still screaming, gasping for air. I was in bed in my old, ugly, uncomfortableroom at my mother’s house. I was young, but not a child – perhaps a late teenager, or in my early twenties. There was nowhere I would less rather be.
Slowly, slowly, my screams diminished, and I stopped gasping for breath. Eventually my mother appeared in her dressing-gown. I had clearly woken her up, which was never a good thing. I remember feeling that she was very the last person I wanted to see, as she had nothing but scorn for those who were afraid, including me. She was incapable of offering me any comfort, understanding, or sympathy. Indeed, I feared her more than anyone else I had ever known. Finding myself in her house, undressed and in bed, with her in my room, was worse than being in the boat. I felt so vulnerable.
Then I began to wake, gradually realising it had all been a dream. However, I couldn’t stop re-living the terrifying sight of the waves towering above me, or the sensation of them falling on to me, filling the boat. It was just like having flashbacks from my childhood, which happened to me so often, and for so many years, that I had no idea they weren’t normal.
Slowly, slowly, I surfaced more fully, until I reached a point where I was able to whisper, “Thank you, Jesus”, whilst holding my night-cross firmly in my hand, where it had remained all night.
Instantly, I stopped re-living the terrifying sights and sensations of my dream. My inner storm had been stilled by those three, precious words.
Then I reached for my iPad to write this blog, feeling awed by what had happened. I was no longer disturbed or afraid, though my body felt as if it were vibrating for a while afterwards. The whole experience left me with a lot to reflect on.
I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NIV).
You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me (Jonah 2:3; NIV).
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NIV).
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed (Psalm 107:29; NIV).
He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him (Luke 17:16; NIV).
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).
Reading: Mark 4:35-41; RSV
When evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.
And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”
And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”
And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
Context: At present, I’m having a lot of challenging and alarming dreams. Yesterday morning, as I surfaced from a particularly long, disturbing one, I started to pray, and immediately received today’s poem. Later in the day I printed it out, and put a copy beside my pillow. The plan is to say it every night just before settling down to sleep, straight after the beautiful Song of Simeon (see below).
Update: I did this last night, and had no horrible dreams at all, for which I thank God!
God speaks in dreams, those visions of the night when deep sleep covers the land and all are slumbering in their beds. At these times God speaks in our ears and terrifies us with admonitions, to turn us away from wickedness and to keep us humble (Job 33:15-17; TIB).
Stay with me in my dreams,
To help and comfort me, I pray,
Then, be with me when I wake, To guide and strengthen me each day.
May I hearten others, too, With help and comfort, when I can,
And walk the extra mile with them,
And share their load, like you, God’s Lamb.
If one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles (Matthew 5:41; GNT).
As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36; NLT).
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; NLT).
Reading: the Song of Simeon
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luke 2:29-32; KJV).
Context: I woke after a long, vivid dream about being on a bike-ride, and getting completely lost in the dark. As I surfaced, I began to say the Lord’s Prayer, but didn’t get very far…
You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29; NLT).
Suddenly, for the first time ever, I was looking directly into my soul. It was softly illuminated by God’s light, just as an oil lamp creates a pool of light in darkness. Previously, I’ve only seen my soul’s dark surface from the outside.
My soul seemed completely empty, but I couldn’t be sure of this because of the darkness beyond the pool of light. If it had any boundaries, they too were lost in the deep, surrounding shadows. This sight lasted no more than a few seconds, then it was over.
Afterwards, I wondered if this experience had really happened, or if I had imagined it. However, when I was saying grace before breakfast, I saw that not only is God light, but that all light is the light of God.
The city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light (Revelation 21:23; NLT).
Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV).
Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:21; NLT).
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).
This, then, is the message we heard from Jesus and declare to you: God is light, and in God there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5; TIB).
I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places so that you may know that I am the Lord (Isaiah 45:3; CSB).
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12; NLT).
Context: A few nights ago I had a vivid, strange and disturbing dream:
I saw a group of very young children who had just been separated from those whose task it was to take care of them. The children weren’t old enough to walk, so they were having to crawl along a rough, narrow, dirty street, moving away from their carers, and towards an unknown destination.
All of them were wailing. It was a heartbreaking sound. In his distress, perhaps blinded by tears, one little boy blundered head-first into a stone wall. He slumped to the ground, and I was shocked to hear him cry out, “They don’t love us any more”, in utter despair, hopelessness and desolation. After that he stopped moving. It was clear that he had given up the will to survive.
My heart went out to him. I jumped up and ran to him, putting my arms round his small body to comfort him. At that moment, I woke up with my arms clasped around my pillow. Instantly, even before I could begin to pray, several realisations struck me hard:
What I realised
Everything I experienced during my childhood laid the foundations of my mental health during adult life.
This includes how I was treated by those who brought me up, as well as by those I was exposed to at school, in churches, clubs, hospitals and all other settings.
Thus, for good or ill, I have been influenced and affected by all the relationships and events I experienced during my formative years.
From my dream, and from the realisations which followed immediately afterwards, I understood even more clearly than before that the damage done to me in childhood caused the wounds and scars I have carried into adulthood.
These wounds shaped the person I have become, including all I feel, think, say and do. They affect how I behave, relate to others, cope with suffering, treat the world, understand God, and even whether or not I want to live. They also affected how I brought up my son, and how I reacted to having a miscarriage.
My dream showed me the mechanism by which so much of my psychological distress and mental illness has been caused. Only God can fully heal the inner damage I sustained, and the consequences with which I have had to live.
I am the LORD who heals you (Exodus 15:26; NLT).
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
(Psalm 147:3; NLT).
1. God is not the dream of angels,
Nor a vision,
Nor a creed.
2. God is not just wishful thinking,
Nor a longing,
Nor a need.
3. God is neither male nor female,
Storm, nor earthquake,
Fire, nor flood.
4. God is Father, Son, and Spirit,
One forever —
God is Love.
1. This is […] the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God [and] sees a vision of the Almighty (Numbers 24:3-4; NLT).
2. I yearn for the Lord, more than watchmen do for the morning (Psalm 130:6; NET).
3. He is not a human being (1 Samuel 15:29; NIV).
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NKJV).
The Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire (1 Kings 19:11-12; NLT).
I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing (Genesis 6:17; NLT).
4. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; NIV).
The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4; NASB).