In preparation for a preschool chapel session on courage, I’m re-reading the full story of Daniel. It’s funny that the stories we knew best as little kids are often the ones we look at the least as adults. Maybe because we think we already know those stories. But man, the Bible is so rarely PG! There is just a spectacular amount of intrigue, courtly mind games, fire-walking, and alliance-shifting in this story. And if anyone is looking for a good motivator for kids to eat their veggies, that’s in there too.
Amidst the royal temper tantrums and the threats of limb-from-limb tearing, we have yet another instance of that which happens all the time in the Bible – people dreaming dreams.
As a frequent somnambulist, I am fascinated by what exactly happens when we switch off for the night. I often find myself waking up mid-sentence, or in a different room than the one in which I went to sleep, or absolutely convinced that there is something important and urgent I am in a rush to take care of, only to realize after a few moments of confusion (and occasional arguing with roommates) that the world is just as it was when I went to sleep.
While I have a dream life spotted with some pretty terrifying nightmares, I generally see dreams as a gift. Sometimes nonsense, but sometimes a chance to connect with those we have lost, with those we miss, with places and times we have forgotten or never got to know. We dream about what might be, and what couldn’t be except there, in that mix of imagination, memory, hope, faith, and possibility. I can’t think that we would all spend this much of our lives engaged in this crazy alternative life of dreams if it were nothing more than keeping us from getting too bored when we sleep. I think it’s worth paying attention to how much we all dream, and how much we all (from Nebuchadnezzar to now) crave understanding of our dreams.
While we may lack Daniel’s interpretive super powers, we have all been gifted with vision, with dreams, and with the capacity to be open to what God might be up to in this bit of mystery in each head.