So how might we crack the code of vital directives?
Dreams, whether usual or holy, speak to us in symbolic
language—just like scripture. A tree might represent a
person; a dove may represent Spirit; a lamp could signify
understanding, and so on. When we wake up in the
morning, it’s best to jot down a note about any significant
dream—not to check our cell phones until after we’ve
written a sentence or two about it in a journal or on a
scrap of paper.
That practice can help us remember a fleeting but
significant symbol, story, or even a color scheme in
our dream. Later, the salient bits may return to us.
Talking with trusted, qualified others—our pastor, rabbi,
spiritual director, or worthy spiritual companions—can
sometimes reveal a dream’s special message.
We learn about complex issues by hearing ourselves
utter our truths, as well as hearing others’ ideas. Yet it
seems best to avoid chatting casually about our dreams
online, at the gym, or with virtual strangers. We don’t
cultivate our spiritual senses by trivializing sacred issues.
Let’s not overestimate what so-called experts and
quick-fix methods can reveal about our core self. Let’s
also never underestimate the value of reflective methods
such as meditation, journaling, or in-depth dialogue
with selected, worthy others for unfolding our truths
and maturing into who we really are.
Some of my keenest insights surface while I prune
roses, wash dishes, or take long, solitary walks. On
the other hand, some of my least helpful ideas come
when I’m rushed, pressuring, or scaring myself to
find quick answers.
INVITING HOLY DREAMS
A holy dream is not a pizza—we can’t just order it.
So then, how can we invite holy dreams? One way is
to study “best cases.” We see in fertile, understanding
dreamers that their hearts are full of, and fixed on,
something absorbing—a vocation or calling, a needed
solution, a pet project or enterprise. God’s word could
be the focus. That’s what we find in saints and the
saintly. Engagement is key. Loving engagement is best.
If we study the artistic, inventive, or spiritually gifted
and creative mind, we find a tendency toward prolific
Here are some practices you may find useful for
encouraging a holy dream:
Identify your heart’s treasure—the one idea,
solution, or pursuit that interests you most and
makes you feel most alive. As your answers
evolve, keep notes in a journal. Think about
refining your answers just prior to sleep.
Find time to ponder whatever you identify. You
can keep the issue to yourself; just be honest
about it in your own heart. (Hint: Stay solution-oriented, not problem-oriented.) A friend uses
time in the shower each morning to brainstorm
ways to grow her business. She tells me she even
writes ideas on the shower wall (and washes
them off later).
Discuss in a group of trusted others the idea
in Luke 12: 34 (“For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also”). How does “the
heart’s treasure” demonstrate itself? Study other
biblical passages about the issues of the heart.
How might that relate to inviting a holy dream?
Learn about others who have your same
interests. CDs, books, and interviews in print
and online offer rich, real-life examples of those
whose interests may match yours.
Consider engaging with the ideas of your area
of greatest interest right before sleep. The closer
you get to that hypnagogic state, the more likely
your meditations will be fruitful.
Finally, think about practicing some sort of
contemplative art, such as prayer, ceramics, or
gardening. Such activities can lead to beyond-time instances when insights flood the mind.
In the silence of self-forgetfulness, our core self
“asks” for the heart’s treasure. In this state of
mind, we are the purest worshipers.
Dancers, composers, musicians, writers, and poets
often say that at certain moments, they become so
at one with their art and work that it’s like praying.
In fact, at such times, they become prayer. When
attention is focused from the heart and from the
right use of God’s gifts, we give holy dreams their