Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dream On

Joseph and Samuel of the Old Testament, St. Joseph, and other heroes of our faith received crucial, divine messages through dreams.

So far nothing of that magnitude for this dreamer.

However, everyday dreams can have an enormous positive or negative impact on my emotional life.

In a recent dream of mine, my husband and I (along with all of you dear college friends) had just reached the end of junior year at Princeton and were saying goodbye for the summer. Of course none of us were married yet, but we were getting on toward that stage, and our Lord was confirming my vocation to my husband in my own heart. But my husband, respecting proper boundaries of courtship, never assumed we would get married or spoke of it as a certainty before we were engaged. The memorable part of the dream was my extreme anguish at having to say goodbye to him for the three long summer months--such a familiar feeling when I was back in that goodbye moment--and also profound longing for the certainty that one day we would be married and sharing life together. Goodbye wouldn't ache nearly so much if I could just know that one day he would be my husband.

And then I woke up. Thank you, Lord! There he is sleeping next to me, more handsome than ever. Here's our small apartment where we share our one life. There are our three children sleeping in the living room. Two of them look mostly like me, one favors him. My dream came true times a thousand. For a few minutes right then, the emotional anguish of goodbye that was still so fresh in my mind gave way to incredible gratitude for my ordinary life. It went way beyond contentment; it was exhilaration. And it lasted for two days. And I can even return to it in my imagination right now when I need a gratitude boost.

Then there are the dreams that can upset my emotional balance for a day or two. Dreams where feelings resurface from the times when I was younger and gave my heart away imprudently. Dreams that foster my fear of loss or fear of failure. Mischievous dreams that whisper suggestions toward vanity and pride. Then I wake up agitated, in a confused haze, starting my day coping with emotions that would have been better if left unacknowledged.

Because of the dreams that may come and the emotions those dreams foster, sleep is a time of great emotional vulnerability. And, for better or worse, the thriving of our family depends heavily on my emotional well-being. And we're the best off when I'm not only reasonably content but positively grateful and joyful. Now... how can I assure more of those sweet dreams about my husband and children and other blissful realities?

Well, first and foremost, by humming the right songs as I drift off to sleep? Because no discussion about romance and dreams would be complete without quoting the refrain of country/soft rock ballad "Chances Are", sung by the great troubadour Bob Seger (yes Red, the sappiness factor is skyrocketing : ))

Chances are I'll see you somewhere in my dreams tonight.
You'll be smiling like the night we met.
Chances are I'll hold you, and I'll offer all I have.
You're the only one I can't forget.
Baby, you're the best I've ever met.

On we go...

Do you all pray specifically for good, pure and holy dreams in your night prayers? Does the Church have short prayers for dreams that you could share here? Or do you read something particular before bedtime to end the day on a lovely note? Particular patrons of dreams? I want to do a much better job entrusting my dreams to our Lord and other holy men and women in heaven, and of preparing my heart and mind for peaceful sleep. Sweet dreams, all!


Anonymous said...

JM, thank you for this reflection. I, too, am a big believer in how dreams can impact life positively or negatively. I have had some remarkable spiritual experiences confirmed by dreams, and I believe God can actively communicate with us in our dreams.

I did some research not too long ago and came up empty with special prayers or patron saints (although St. Joseph isn't a bad option in any case). I just simply ask the Holy Spirit for peaceful, beautiful dreams for myself and my husband, and to take away any anxiety I might have (or that my husband has) as I go to bed. I usually do this at the end of my nighttime prayers as I hit the pillow. I believe it to make a big difference!


Anonymous said...

Would you mind if I jumped in here and asked if you and the other builders would someday post on your experience(s) in courting? You mentioned it very briefly in your post and I'm intrigued. I'm wondering how to do this with my children. My 14 year old daughter is already being asked out on "dates" (we don't allow it) and her peers have been "dating" since the age of 12. While I started dating at 16, I can see now how pointless it was and how it only can set one up for unnecessary heartache and trouble.

Your perspective, guidelines and experience would be appreciated.


Right Said Red said...


It was a little too sappy for me, haha, but I think you make some GREAT points regarding dreams. I dream very vividly when pregnant, and it is usually NOT good. I dream about my children dying (because of Therese), and losing other loved ones. I pray every night for my guardian angel and my Mother Mary to protect my mind and allow me to rest peacefully. When I am not pregnant, my dreams pretty much reflect what is going on in my life. If I am having smooth days with time for prayer and rest, I don't seem to dream at all. When life gets busy, rushed, and stressful, I tend to have very negative dreams (mostly scary). I very rarely have romantic dreams--what does that say about me?

One funny thing about dreams, I can never run well in my dreams (which is funny because I think of myself as a runner), but I can always fly.

JMB said...

I also have a recurring nightmare where I can't run, or have to run and don't have any shoes on, and I'm running on gravel or some hard substance. Anyway, I forget most of my dreams except for the ones that come often. I don't know how you can control your dreams.

JY said...

Thank you for this post! Sometimes it seems like other women have "it all together" and it's reassuring to know we all have our struggles and doubts and weaknesses no matter how we may appear to strangers.

I particularly loved your admitting to feeling strong emotional anguish at being separated from your boyfriend and just wanting that certainty of being with him forever, not wanting to even consider the possibility you would break up. And too many couples speak of intentions of getting married too soon, then break up later and have the heartbreak of feeling like they were ALMOST engaged. People have to take courtship very seriously and be careful with their words! You are really lucky for having found your husband! :)

Tess said...

Juris Mater, as always, Awesome post!! I met Sophia and Matt last summer and was thrilled to hear of their engagement. What a delightful surprise to find more news of it on my favorite blog!

I'd also like to second the motion for all of the Cathedral Builders to share their dating/courtship stories. :)

Erin said...

I might be late to this post, but hope you see it anyway. I have always been afflicted by very strong and vivid dreams, which are often nightmares. I pray to St. Michael the Archangel to protect me from evil dreams, and I have never had a nightmare when I remember to pray to him at night. I have also been known to pray to St. John Bosco, as he was gifted with prophecy through his dreams (I think). My dreams are so vivid and realistic I often wonder if the events will play out at some point in the future.

I also chuckled at this post b/c that Bob Segar song was played on repeat on my itunes when Cody and I first met at NDLS. I always smile when it comes on the ipod now thinking of those days of courtship.