Is there anything more mysterious than our dreams? So many mornings I wake up and think, "What was that?" or "That was weird!" The images, characters, scenes, and dialogue that so often take place in my dreams are utterly beyond my comprehension. Things, people, circumstances that are familiar in themselves get thrown together in ways that are completely unfamiliar. It's like while the body sleeps the brain plays. Aging does not seem to lessen this playfulness--actually, I think it probably accelerates it because the brain has so much more material to work with.
There are dreams and then there are dreams. The dreams that Sister Joan is writing about are the kind that are aspirational. They reside in our imagination and they call to us. They are crucial to our capacity to hope. These dreams draw upon the past--which keeps them from simply being fantasy. But they are not bound to or by the past. They may begin there but they don't end there. They play with the past in redemptive ways...they can awaken us to the possibility that what has been does not finally have to determine what will be.
Sister Joan writes, "The very act of reviewing one's own values, then and now, stands as a marker for us all. It reminds us that it is possible to learn as we go through life. It is even more important to be open to doing it and willing to report it. Life grows us. Life shapes us. Life converts us. Life opens us as we age to think differently about ourselves."
This way of thinking cuts against the grain of assumptions that we ossify with age--that we are diestined to become, simply, the sum total of the choices we have made. Any dreaming that we (or things) could truly be other is simply wishful thinking. We stop dreaming. Or perhaps more accurately, we stop attending to dreams. Resignation sets in. A kind of rigor mortis of the soul. "Aspire" comes from two Latin words: "To breathe."
As I was contemplating dreams as a breathing of the soul, I was reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul, "For godly grief produced a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death." (II Corinthians 7:10) We are never too old (or young for that matter) to awaken to the possibility that things can become new.
Soul-play. Perhaps that's what dreams are a sign of. The soul at play. The breath of life. How's your aspiration these days?