June 30, 2009


I've always been a good dreamer, and I usually remember at least something of my dreams. Though there is a ton of nonsense in this area, I do believe that reflection on dreams can be a useful tool for the spiritual life. For years I've been taking notes on them. Though an individual dream might remind me of something that needs attention, it's the general themes and recurring motifs in my dreams that I find most enlightening:

The most common theme or narrative of my dreams is a search or a quest. I'm looking for something or somebody. Within the movement of seeking it's often the paths that are the most vivid memory: roads, tunnels, ladders, forest trails, etc.

My dreams are more commonly outdoors than inside. Rocks are a common element: rocky landscapes, rocks that I have to carry, etc. Indeed I'm often carrying something in a bag or--for some reason--in a bucket.

I'm usually on my own in a dream. When I do interact with other people, they are usually people from the past rather than the present. The same goes for the places; they are most often places I used to live. (Since I have received my mail at eighteen different addresses in so many years since I went away to college, there are plenty of choices.) Encounters with others usually take the form of brief and jarring conversations, the kind that change things and the course of the dream.

I rarely eat in a dream. Nevertheless, if there is food in the dream, it is almost always Chinese food.

Sometimes I dream in black and white. Sometimes I'm reading the dream like a story in a book, instead of actually seeing it.


pennyante said...

I don't remember much of what I dream or that I have even dreamed. However I have had some significant dreams in my life. I'll share one of them here:

When I was engaged to be married, the date of the marriage was approaching. I began having doubts. One night I had an intricate dream of walking on a country road and seeing a farm house across the field. I went into the house and walked through all the rooms which were filled with a variety of people. Soon afterwards I awoke.

All my doubts about marriage were gone. My marriage was a very happy one and if my husband were still alive, we would have been married 52 years this year.

I don't have any idea what the significance of the house of many rooms was, but it really didn't seem to matter as it cleared up my doubts. :)

Matthew Ignatius said...

I'm well-known for bizarre dreams. For example, in 1997 I had a dream that my school was the Titanic (this was fourth grade). When Kate Winslet and I finally managed to escape the ship, she randomly disappeared and I found myself walking as if the school were not the Titanic (although I was still dressed in a tuxedo) and I went to walk home over a bridge in town that runs over the train tracks that run through downtown. Before I crossed it, a large tidal wave came and destroyed the bridge and in a kind of cheesy epic-ness found in the worst of action movies, I fell to my knees and cried "NOOO!!!" Then woke up.

Those shorts of dreams I find absurd and don't think much about them, except that they would make a good conversation piece at parties. Other dreams, however, I pay a little more attention to. For example, I had one dream that I was at a Capuchin friary in Africa. Where I have no idea. The friary with tan-colored on the outside and sort of blended in with the parched surroundings. From it's side there flowed a little stream and gathered in a pool of water just below the friary. I remember seeing a man who was thirsty standing and gazing at the water, maybe afraid to approach. I walked over to him and brought him to the water and let him drink. For some reason, this aggravated a local warlord, who then attacked the friary. For some reason, the friary could not be accessed from the outside unless you were a friar but they managed to break in. I ran upstairs to warn the brothers and found myself drenched in water.

There were some absurdities in the dream (Halle Berry was there for some reason and the friary had an ancient elevator similar to those lurching beasts at the convent next to Good Shepherd in Manhattan) and I ignore those for the most part, but some of it seemed rather Biblical in its symbolism (the water flowing from the side of the friary made me think of the passage where the water flows from the side of the temple in Jerusalem and gives life to everything downstream) and I can't escape the symbolism of baptism in my being drenched in water. I've been trying to figure it out, but I don't remember all of it, so it's a little difficult.

Brother Charles said...

Be sure to bring up your dreams of Kate Winslet and Halle Berry with your soon-to-be postulant directors.

No worries, though. I once had a dream that I was being interviewed by Rolling Stone about what it was like to date Emma Bunton.

for narnia said...

very interesting post, Fr. C! thanks for sharing. i don't remember most of my dreams. but, the times i do remember dreams, it is mostly of things that occur (or often comes true) after i dream about it. i don't know what these kind of dreams are supposed to mean. i have never written down any dreams, but maybe i should? PEACE! ~tara t~