Asleep and Dreaming

There are all kinds of studies about REM sleep, psychological implications of dream interpretation, and dream archetypes as doorways into the collective unconscious (thank you, Jung!). Dream analysis can be illuminating and fun, and sometimes a way to understand a dreamer whose waking pain prevents direct, conscious conversation. Favorite characters open their hearts and minds through dreams, and adventures sometimes depend on what is seen, felt, and learned in them (Dream on Harry Potter, Meg Murray, Percy Jackson, Daenerys Targaryen). God comes to dreamers, sleeping and awake (Paul, Hildegard, Peter, Mary, Magi, MLK, Francis and Clare). When we dismiss and discount the power of dreams, we close our eyes to the mystery that is our internal life and the glory that is the life of creation.

My dreams affect my waking life, and my waking actions affect my dreams. I have awoken with a new perspective to events in my life; taking cold medicine or antibiotics darkens the colors in my dreamscape, and certain pain meds bring on psychedelic shapes and 1960’s music (unexpected result of wisdom teeth removal). How can I deny the power of my dreams?

As a rule, I’m not one to spend time interpreting my dreams. But their fluidity, their permeable and mutable nature mean that I can alter sleeping reality with a simple change of mind or perspective. If nothing else, dreams are the playroom where I practice transforming the world through my thoughts and actions. It may not work so quickly or strangely, but I’m kidding myself if I think my thoughts and actions have no effect in this waking world I call home.

What do you dream? What dreams of yours change this waking world we share?

Sleep in Earthly Peace

I’m not prone to insomnia, but every so often it pays a visit. Usually I know why – a loved one in trouble, an upcoming event, anxiety over a difficult problem or project, conflict with someone I love. The times I’ve been awake for reasons unknown are in the single digits – a blessing I don’t give thanks for nearly enough. In those sleepless hours, I have mulled over things done and left undone, rehearsed imaginary dialogues and explanations, and strained to see what the intentions of others might have in store for the world in general and me in specific. I can’t say any of it helped. My eyelids didn’t close. Losing sleep only made whatever caused it worse.

No one person can predict or control what happens in this uncertain world. The good, bad, and indifferent among us all have the means to create a better world or destroy a beloved part of it. I can’t control the actions of others, yet I will live with the consequences. So will everyone else. It’s not exactly a reassuring truth, is it? How can I fall asleep every night in such a reality?

There are two truths that help me. The first, my grandmother taught me: get up, do your best every day, and don’t worry about what is beyond that.  In Biblical terms: don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34) The second: whatever happens, God won’t lose track of me or anyone else.  

With such truths in hand, its time for bed…

I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. Psalm 4:8

Back to Basics: Sleeping

Sleeping is the foundation of my waking life. Without it, everything gets shaky. I’m short with my children and husband. I eat more than I should to keep my body going, and usually the wrong things. It takes so much energy to plough through the day that I lose my ability and desire to look ahead, to imagine and work toward a better reality, to consider new ideas. Sleepwalking through my daily routine, I don’t notice other people, I don’t see the beauty of the world around me, and I forget the blessings of this holy life.

According to recent studies, many of us are chronically sleep deprived. The fast pace of life, work, and the easy availability of everything around the clock lengthen the day.  The glowing, blinking light of tv’s, computers, phones, and games make it hard for the mind to rest even after they are turned off. Good sleep doesn’t just happen anymore: it’s something we have to value and plan for. Sadly, getting enough sleep isn’t very high on our cultural must-do list.

So why are so many of us living a sleep deprived life? It can’t be because we feel better or happier. Could it be because we prefer a half-aware life with a few extra hours each day to a wide-awake one that includes restful nights of dreaming?

What is so important that it keeps me up at night? What is so critical that it robs you of sleep? It’s something I’ll explore this week. I hope you will, too.

 

Back to Basics

The holidays are officially over. I haven’t taken down the Christmas tree or the outside lights, but I’ve stopped turning them on. I miss the sparkling on the shrubs, especially now that they are covered in snow, glowing softly through their chilly, powdery blankets. But it’s time to take up the usual activities, putting away Christmas and New Year celebrations for the next eleven months. I am ready. But what to write about now?

With all the political nastiness, all the uncertainty, all the fear and anger, it would be easy to add my own frustrations to the cacophony. But what earthly good would it bring? There’s a difference between standing up and speaking out for what I believe in and releasing a torrent of negativity. Righteous anger and action are not the same as self-righteous rhetoric and fearful reaction. At this year’s beginning, I am going to do my best to remember and honor the difference. So for me, it’s back to basic questions: what is necessary, life-giving, world blessing? What is beautiful? How do I give back to this holy world?

Years ago, I read a few books in a series that explored fundamental actions/elements of life. Some were amazing, others pedantic, but I did like the topics. As I begin 2017, I’ll take a look at them. I hope you do, too -and I hope you let me know what you think. Dialogue is so much more interesting than monologue…peace and blessings.

New Beginning?

What does it mean, this marking of the end of one year and the beginning of another? Is it just an arbitrary date on the calendar, chosen for convenience or as a holdover from centuries past? It’s cold and dark when I get up; it’s cold and dark long before I go to sleep. There isn’t a lot about the beginning of January that lends itself to thoughts of new beginnings and new life.

Yet. Yet. Yet. The sun is moving from its shortest appearance to its longest. Incremental gains in light every day. I may not notice the change until February, but it is there. These little changes will accumulate like the Fall leaves in my back yard.

Perhaps the new year begins in a dark time because it tells me a truth: what gives light and life grows more often than it crashes full grown out of the blue.

Blessings and Peace to you this New Year, this New Day.